The favorite scuba diving sites are in Admiral Bay. Healthy coral reefs with very similar formation are in CRISTOBAL LIGHT (3), off Cristobal Island, MANGROVE POINT (2) and BIG BAIGHT (1), off Colon Island, and THE GARDEN (6), off Solarte Cay. These reefs drop very slowly, begining at 10 feet (3 meters) reaching the bottom at 60 feet (20 meters).
At HOSPITAL POINT (8), Solarte Cay, the reef begins in shallow water and, close to the cliff, forms a small vertical wall that is the main attraction of this site. At CRISTOBAL LIGHT (3), one finds a platform at 15 feet (5 meters), with a lot of sponges and corals that are growing on the pilots that support the lights for the banana ships, including old ones resting on the bottom.
In the shallow reefs of SAN CRISTOBAL (4), OLD BUOY (10), RICARDO (11) and BALLENA (20) it is possible dive extensive and plain coral reefs in no more than 20 feet (6 meters) of water.
Outside Admiral Bay (Bahia de Almirante), the scuba diving depends on weather conditions. Places like OLD POINT, BETWEEN and CAVES (Zapatillas Cays) are very difficult to reach when the north wind is blowing. More protected areas are close to CORAL CAY and the very shallow (20 feet maximum) site of CORAL ISLANDS, close to Zapatillas Cays, where are five underwater coral formations that reach the surface.
Bocas's reefs are unique because of their invertebrates creatures. It's a place to find small reef inhabitants of the reefs: peppermint shrimps, arrow crabs, bristelworms, bristel starfishes (thousands!), and others, no so small but uncommon: lima shells and basket starfishes. And the diversity of sponges showing off their many colors, are subjects of the study from scientists from all over the world.
Underwater photographers and videographers will find, in shallow places, beautiful subjects, for macro and close up themes. In a sunny day, natural light is enough to get good images at less than 20 feet of water.
The more common coral species are lettuce, fire, brain, star, finger, leather, elkhorn, staghorn, gorgonians, black and sea fans.
Fish are not so abundant due to very heavy survival fishing, mainly by ngobe indians. More common fishes of the reefs are: gray angel, yellowtail snapper, white snapper, small groupers, spade, grunt, parrot, needel, damsel, green and spotted moray eels y nurse sharks. Others not so common are seahorses and toad fishes.
(Text and pictures: Angel González Díaz-Fundación Promar)