Urchin/Crab Panama Expedition 2018: Day 10

David cashed in his chips, now girl power rules!

The howler monkeys slept in this morning and only woke us up at 6:30. David took off to do some touristy stuff at Gamboa and Panama City. He got picked up by Jarrod who kindly offered to bring him to the airport and discuss science on the way. David (the person) will definitely be missed. He is a great travel companion. Meanwhile, Alexandra and I were getting anxious about our last chance to find porcelain crabs on this side of the isthmus. We were packed and ready at 8am but we forgot about Panamanian time… The boat (the same one that we had taken the last three days) apparently needed an inspection and a stamp first! Finally, at 9:30 we took off with Deyvis – my favorite captain. He is not only an excellent boat driver, he also knows everything about the laboratories at the STRI station, and he has shown that he is very good at finding porcelain crabs. We would love to take him on our trip to David (the location) tomorrow!

Despite the heavy rain, the cold water and the halos between the rainwater and the saltwater columns, we found many crabs. Back in the lab we realized that these were all replicates of the species we had already collected. Never mind, replicates are always good to have. Now we have the same species from different locations/habitats. We are ending up with five porcelain crab species and four urchin species from the Caribbean waters around Bocas del Toro, including an undescribed species among the crabs! Alexandra told me that she is working on describing this new species genetically and morphologically. To sum up: So far we collected all the urchins we wanted from both sides of the isthmus: Diadema mexicanum vs. antillarum, Echinometra vanbrunti vs. lucunter & viridis, and Eucidaris thouarsii vs tribuloides  (always Pacific vs. Caribbean).

You can find a few videos about the urchins of our study that were collected in August 2017 at Galeta (Caribbean side) on my personal blog: here!

Pachycheles tuerkayi
Pachycheles susanae
Petrolisthes bolivarensis
Petrolisthes armatus

Today, we spent the afternoon doing dissections of the crabs, plating more crab tissues on different bacterial growth media, and packing for our road trip to David (location) tomorrow.

Cheliped bacteria from P. tuerkayi

I have several colonies from crab guts growing in a special chitin medium from Jarrod! Literally, during my last hours here in Bocas del Toro, I had to prepare new chitin plates in order to be able to grow these interesting bugs on our road trip.


We are going to queue early in the morning to get a spot on the ferry that leaves Isla Colon at 10am. Usually, these ferries are filled with gas trucks so we will have to fight for a space on the ferry. I am very curious to see the roads across the isthmus. Alexandra warned me how dangerous they are. I am more worried about finding crabs and keeping my bugs on the plate alive while Alexandra is taking care of us and worrying about real problems in life. She definitely has seen a lot. I am very glad that we have crossed ways and are going to find these crabs together the next couple of days.

I do not think that there is internet over there. I will keep you posted whenever I am online again.

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