Galeta Station

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The Galeta Marine Laboratory facility is located on the Caribbean coast of Panama in the province of Colon within the Galeta Protected Area, near the city of Colon. It is the site of an intense study of the biological effects of a major oil spill, and is the location for STRI's marine environmental monitoring program.

To access the Galeta Station, it is necessary to travel along the France Field road. This road is in poor repair, due to heavy truck traffic to the Colon Free Zone, warehouses and ports, and is a security-sensitive area, where assaults have occurred. It is highly recommended that travel to and from Galeta takes place in the daytime, and that you do not stop on this road, especially at night. Furthermore, after leaving the France Field road, you must pass through an AMAM checkpoint, which closes at 7:00pm. Access through the checkpoint after this hour must be pre-arranged with the station manager.

Additional Security and Safety Information

  • Proximity to Colón city - The Galeta Marine Laboratory facility is 7 kms from Colón city which is the city with the highest crime rate in Panamá. Therefore, exercise appropriate precautions when visiting Colón city, especially at night.
  • Criminal Activities in the area - The station is surrounded by high crime areas both on the land and shore sides; therefore, stay alert to the following:
    • Vandalism - abandoned structures and shipwreck invite scavenging and some of those scavengers could represent a threat, if encountered.
    • Drug trafficking - fleeing drug traffickers might become a threat when escaping or avoiding law enforcement personnel. If you find any abandoned drug package, do not touch it and report it immediately to the security guard and the ecological police officer.
    • Assault/theft - there have been some assault incidents outside the Galeta protected area; be careful when traveling to and from the station. If involved, do not panic and cooperate with the assailant.
    • Crab poaching - crab harvesting is prohibited in the protected area. In May, crabs reproduce making them more visible; poachers could become a threat.
  • Swimming - Weather permitting, swimming is usually safe around the reef and the sea-grass. Though, be aware that there is dangerous marine life all around the station. Prior to swimming, check with the station personnel to ensure your swimming plans are adequate.
  • Drinking water - Station water comes from Colón which is known to experience shortages. The station has 3-2600 gal water tanks that should ensure enough water for station needs. However, exercise restraint and don't waste water. Tap water is safe to drink at the station.
  • Night Work - Any night work must be coordinated with the station administrator so that the security force is informed and a guide is assigned, if necessary.
  • Boating - If you need a boat, talk to the station manager to arrange with a local boat operator. Any boat operator must have a valid license from the Autoridad Marítima Nacional. When going out, make sure you take a personal floatation device (pfd) and a reliable communication device.
  • Dangerous Fauna: Consult with the station administrators about any dangerous fauna that could be encountered.
    • Crocodiles - there are crocodiles in the Galeta protected area; make sure you use your flashlight when going to and from the laboratory. Crocodiles have also been found sunbathing in the surrounding shore area and station facilities, including paved surfaces.
    • Dangerous marine creatures - Lion fish, sea urchin, fire worms, sting rays, fire coral, seasonal jelly fish, etc. are in the coral reef and the sea-grass bed around the station. Be careful when swimming and snorkeling around the station.
    • Snakes - Venomous and non-venomous snakes have been reported around the mangrove and the station facilities.
    • Scorpions - There have been reports of venomous scorpions around the station, make sure you check your shoes before putting them and mattresses before going to bed.
  • Weather Threats: strong wind storms, flooding, thunderstorms, lighting storms.
  • Communication Difficulties
    • Radio - only the 25W base works well. Portable 5W radios do not work past the visitor's center. (Consider digital radios)
    • Cell phones - Cellphone service is not available more than 7 km offshore.
  • Transportation Limitations - Visitors must be aware that there is only one vehicle at the Galeta Station. Therefore, visitors must utilize their own transportation.
    • If it can be coordinated with the station manager, a visitor can ride in or out of the station on regular work-related trips.
    • The ANAM access point closes at 7 p.m., any need to leave or enter the station past that time must be pre-arranged with the station manager.
    • At night, France Field road has many risk factors; homeless camps, big pot holes, lack of illumination and a history of assaults, rock throwing; therefore do not stop under any circumstances.
    • Subject to Flood Areas: Sabanitas - 4 Altos, 4 Altos, France Field Road and Galeta Road after the bridge. This areas must be avoided during heavy rains because you might get strandedin a dangerous area.
  • Emergency provisions/supplies - 3 - 5 day supplies for 3 - 5 persons.
  • Out in the field - Ecological Police Assistance - Ecological police officers might accompany researchers or patrol the research area when out in the field.
  • Physical security - Lock your doors and use the safe box inside your room. Personal belongings are your responsibility.
  • The station has one private security guards on duty 24 hrs/day, 365 days/year and in adtition, at least one member of the Panamanian Ecological Police is present at the station at all times. The station has electricity, a fire alarm system for the laboratory building, battery-operated smoke detectors in the dorms, potable water, emergency generator, first aid equipment, communication via Internet (just at the Laboratory building), and an IP telephone system.

Emergency Information

  • Radio "Garita 1" or call STRI Headquarters Security Guard Booth 212-8911/212-8211
  • Incident Commanders
  • STRI has a contract with a private ambulance service (Grupo Vive) that covers Galeta. In case you need an ambulance, call 212-8911 or 212-8211 for ambulance assistance. Be aware that during heavy truck traffic, the ambulance might take between 15-30 minutes to reach the station.
  • Ambulance Service and Medical Assistance Potential Delays
    • There is one regular first aid kit in the station, a diving first aid kit and an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED).
    • There are two private hospitals (Hospital 4 Altos and the Centro Médico Caribe) and one pubic hospital (Hospital Amador Guerrero) near Galeta. For the private hospital attention, you will need to show a valid credit card.
  • Meeting Places
    • Primary meeting place: Visitor's center at the entrance of site
    • Secondary meeting place (to be used if the primary meeting place is affected by the emergency): Outside the main building
  • Areas of Refuge
    • Bathroom in the main building.

Safety and Security Related links

Facilities Related links