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The Gulf of ChiriquÃ is a part of Panama that encompasses Coiba National Park and Golfo de ChiriquÃ National Park. There are dozens of islands in this Gulf. Along with the islands of Coiba National Park there is also Islas Secas, Los Ladrones, Parilla, Isla Boca Brava, Isla Palenque and Montuoso.
Montuoso is the farthest island from Panama in this gulf. During certain seasons, you can even spot Galapagos seals on Montuoso. The Gulf of ChiriquÃ also includes one of the most famous big game fishing areas, Hannibal Bank.
- Boca Chica - Boca Chica is located 18 miles south of the IntraAmerican highway, via the community of Horconcitos, in the San Lorenzo District. It is a small village known as a popular jumping-off point for sportfishing in the Gulf of ChiriquÃ.
- Boca Brava and Isla Palenque - Boca Brava is about one-half mile from Boca Chica. You can get to Boca Brava by water taxi. It is covered in untouched rain forests and home to multiple families of howler monkeys, as is the neighboring island, Isla Palenque.
- Islas Secas - The Islas Secas is a group of sixteen islands.
- Los Ladrones - Los Ladrones is a small group of four islands. The four islands are the only islands that appear above the surface. There are many islands that come up almost to the surface, some of them dangerous for boats. 300-foot-deep (91 m) channels also cut through the area, bringing in large fish and mammals.
Coiba National Park has gained World Heritage Site status. Many of the same species found in Coiba National Park can also be found in other areas of this gulf. Whales can be seen in the Gulf of ChiriquÃ throughout the year and are seen in large number from May to November. This is a season of migration for the Humpback Whale from the icy waters of the arctic to the warm waters of the Gulf of ChiriquÃ. Many give birth in the protected waters of Coiba National Park but can be seen by all nearby islands.
Panama’s Tommy Guardia National Geographical Institute is charting the first interactive map for whale-watching in Latin American to aid in collecting research and contributing to the protection and preservation of the endangered mammal.
“When the Green Association of Panama in 2003 began the ‘Save the whales’ campaign, people thought that the mammals were only in cold countries, and now it’s a rare person who doesn’t know that Panama has whales,” Despaigne said.
The Humpback whales are one of over 20 species of marine mammals that can be observed in the area. The Tropical bottlenose whale, Fin and Pilot Whales along with large pods of Bottle Nosed, Common and Spinner Dolphins are common. Examples of Toothed Whales such as the Orca and Sperm Whale are also seasonable visitors.