Marine Program
The Marine Program monitors a variety of physical and biological parameters on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Panama.
 
 This monitoring is designed to reveal local long-term changes in the environment as well as to provide background data to support the STRI field stations and other marine research.

The Marine Program monitors both physical and biological parameters that affect the growth and health of marine organisms.  The physical data include  hourly records of both meteorological and oceanographic parameters such as rainfall, solar radiation, and salinity. These are recorded primarily from our two field stations in Bocas del Toro and Galeta on the Caribbean coast of the Republic of Panama.  In addition, we monitor sea temperature at 12 sites on both coasts.   The biological monitoring records productivity and biomass and is designed to document decadal fluctuations in three important tropical habitats -- coral reefs, grassbeds, and mangroves.  A major part is based on a protocol developed by  CARICOMP, a Caribbean-wide monitoring program in which the ESP has been a participant since 1999.
The ESP has   substantially extended the Caricomp protocol in order to follow environmental changes  more intensively over a wider area.  These extensions are sub-projects run by the  Marine Program investigators.  The Panama Coral Reef Monitoring Network under the direction of Hector M. Guzman monitors the population structure of  coral reefs at permanent transects at 20 sites on both sides of the isthmus. The Marine Environmental Assessment Study (MAREAS) under the direction of Luis D'Croz has been recording water quality and plankton parameters at a permanent site at the Pacific end of the canal since 1985 and is overseeing the operation of two data loggers that continously record salinity, chlorophyll, and several other parameters at two Caribbean sites.  The Mangrove monitoring project under the direction of Ilka C. Feller monitors mangroves at three sites in addition to the CARICOMP site and extends each to include quadrats further back from the shore.

Meteorological, water quality and physical-oceanographic data

ESP physical monitoring data available for public can be found by clicking on Physical Monitoring on the menu at the top of the page. They include  hourly measures of wind speed and direction, solar radiation, quantum radiation, rainfall, air temperature,  humidity, barometric pressure, water temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and water level.

These types of data are collected at Galeta and Bocas del Toro, with the exception of turbidity collected only at Galeta. In addition, shallow (3-20 m) water temperatures are recorded at 10 remote stations on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts (Table II).  At the Naos Marine Lab, MAREAS weekly measurements are taken at 4 depths from 1m to 20m at a station near the mouth of the Panama Canal. They include chlorophyll, zooplankton, phytoplankton biomass, salinity,  and dissolved inorganic nutrients. See the MAREAS page to download this data.

Biological data

The Marine Program intensively monitors three of the most prominent coastal ecosystems in Bocas del Toro at sites located around and within a small bay immediately to the west of the main laboratory.  They are all within 200 to 500 meters of the sites where our hourly meteorological, oceanographic, and water quality data is collected. This allows us to use this data  to  explain and understand the annual and long-term changes we observe.  The core of  this biological monitoring is based on a protocol developed by the Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity (CARICOMP) program. These data are available only to participants in CARICOMP. Additional sites and monitoring methods, under the direction of Marine Program scientists, have been added to more fully characterize the dynamics of  the three ecosystems.