Saturday, June 18, 2011

Whale Watching's Secret is Out - It's Panama!
Over 30 species of whale and dolphin make the 1,500 tropical islands that rim Panama home during this country's uniquely lengthy whale watching season that runs from July to October and again from December through February. It is one of the only places in the world where whales by the thousands migrate from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres to breed and bear their calf. Because of this phenomena whale watchers are afforded extraordinary expeditions featuring massive sightings of these acrobatic creatures.

As a result of the many humpback whales that migrate to these nutrient-rich tropical waters, whale watching enthusiasts can expect a whale-load of activity at every turn off of the idyllic Pearl Islands, which was home to two seasons of the hit television reality show Survivor. In addition to the thrill of watching these acrobatic performers as they dive, breach (jump out of the water), spyhop (poke their nose out of the water and look around), and lobtail (stick their tail out of the water, swing it around and slap it on the water), viewers are always thrilled by their spouting and singing. Humpback whales, so named for the motion they take as they arch their back out of the water in preparation for a dive, are categorized as the noisiest and most imaginative singers of the specie. Their long, eerie squeaks, grunts and other complex sounds which, suspected to be part of their mating ritual, are mostly sung in warm water.

For the truly adventurous who want to get closer to the real action and experience an "up close" encounter of the beauty of these oceanic creatures, there are extensive tours that allow participants to swim among the whales and the numerous dolphins that inhabit these waters. For those who choose to remain dry for the day, these cetaceans can also be observed, along with manta rays, sea turtles and colorful tropical reef fish, from a glass bottom boat. Other choices for a fun whale watching excursion include a fast yacht or a comfy catamaran sailboat.

Since very few people are even aware of whale watching in Panama, observers can enjoy their time on the water in relative peace as they are not herded onto big boats and there is not a lot of competition chasing the whales in order to get a closer look. This makes for a relaxing experience whether in the water or observing from a boat.

As the land bridge between South and Central America, Panama is a biodiversity hotspot that provides the adventure traveler with countless options for enjoying flora and fauna, oceanic and terrestrial wildlife, native culture and pirate history. The lengthy whale watching season in this vibrant country brings with it a treasure chest of delights for outdoor enthusiasts who come to experience the whales and find other amazing wonders in this exciting and diverse culture.
Be sure to follow my next article entitled, "What to Expect from Your First Whale Watching Expedition."
Ellie Wharton is an experienced traveler and outdoor enthusiast who has lived in various cities in the US, Jamaica, Mexico, Belize and is currently residing in Panama where she has a developed a love for whales and dolphins. To find out how to schedule a whale watching tour visit
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