by Kristina Hill
The first thing on our to-do list for our Panama Part II adventure was to head to Playa Bique on the Pacific Coast of Panama to find more Striostrea sp. and Saccostrea palmula oysters. In order to get to Bique, we had to travel down an unpaved, rocky clay road that wended through lush green vegetation with white cows grazing on hillsides. The beautiful scenery distracted me enough that I didn’t feel my head hit the roof of the truck with every single bump in the road, and distracted Katrina enough that she was able to keep her breakfast!
We arrived at Bique to find a small village with brightly colored houses and friendly people. There were also several dogs in the village anxious to welcome us–as we unpacked our gear, one decided to mark his territory right on the side of our bucket! (Is there an old saying about a dog urinating on a bucket bringing scientists good luck? If not, there should be.) Then we tromped down a sandy, mangrove-lined path to the rocky intertidal, where we were able to find the oysters we were looking for.
The Striostrea species we found were large and seemed to like the tidal pools found in the rock formations at low tide. They were large oysters (we were finding 80-100 mm ones), and it looked like people were “harvesting” the meat and leaving the shells behind—it was very difficult to pry the oysters from the rocks without shucking them open. The Saccostrea palmula oysters we found were much smaller (20-60 mm), so they probably aren’t consumed from this location.
We headed back to the lab, cleaned our bucket and set straight to processing the oysters for metazoan and protistan parasite analyses.
Here’s to hoping the rest of our collections go as well!