Urchin/Crab Panama Expedition 2018: Day 7

Culturing from Eucidaris tribuloides in my awesome new shirt

A week in Panama today!  Sometimes it feels like a month.  Today we split up… Laetitia and Alexandra went to Boca del Drago to look for crabs.  They searched and searched without success but did find the missing Eucidaris tribuloides!  So now we have all the Caribbean urchin species that we’re looking for.  Meanwhile Jarrod, Jamie, and I went to scout out new sampling sites check out an organic coffee/chocolate plantation on Isla Bastimentos nearby.  Fascinating water taxi ride, it was us and a bunch of surfers and the boat took the surfers out (though some scary high waves!) to the break between islands where they would surf.  So they all paid the driver and jumped out, meanwhile a couple others paddled over and hopped in and went with us to Isla Bastimentos.   Cool.  The organic/funky/hippie plantation was amazing, we learned about the natural microbial fermentation of cacao which is pretty awesome.

A big one

When Laetitia and Alexandra got back, they jumped in the water near the Bocas Station and found a bunch of the crabs they need.

Mangroves: more interesting below the surface
Fish under the dock

After lunch was a lot of lab work.  I made new media, dissected/plated the Eucidaris, and made glycerol stocks/did DNA extraction on all the isolates from the Pacific.  Meanwhile Laetitia began dissections/plating on all the crabs they collected today.  Once I was done with lab work I jumped in the ocean to check out the amazing things growing in and around the docks.   This area is covered with mangroves and they are really awesome.  They’re not that exciting above water but underneath the are completely covered in the most amazing diversity of critters… including the crabs.

After dinner a group of us from the station took a water taxi to Isla Carenero to a restaurant called the “Cosmic Crab”.  Among other cool things, the lady that runs this restaurant is trying to create more demand for lionfish which is an invasive species spreading in many countries to the detriment of local fish.   There’s an international campaign (and push by NOAA) to create consumer demand for this fish, ever since I heard about the campaign I’d wanted to do my part for conservation and try the fish!  Anyway, I can verify that they are worth eating from both a conservation and culinary perspective.

Eucidaris, aka “the pencil urchin”
The dinner crowd
Laetitita photographing her crabs
Only 7 more minutes through the jungle to the cacao plantation
Schooling under the dock


About David Coil

David Coil is a Project Scientist in the lab of Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis. David works at the intersection between research, education, and outreach in the areas of the microbiology of the built environment, microbial ecology, and bacterial genomics. Twitter

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