The bright red Oophaga pumilio (poison dart frog) remains motionless against the moss-covered trunk. Its wary eyes ever watching for potential threats. Little does it know, two girls have been watching its every move. They blend in to the lush tropical rainforest with their tan field shirts and streaks of moisture covering their brows. All of a sudden, one girl lunges, hand outstretched, waiting to finally get to her quarry. The hand closes on empty air and leaf matter. The frog leaps away with glee, once again outmaneuvering the future biologists.

During our time at SFS, we’ve been exposed to so many new experiences, animals and environments. One of our primary projects has been to sample the poison dart frogs on the various islands in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. Our frog catching abilities have increased significantly with weekly practice as we catch, measure and sex the frogs. It has been an incredible experience being able to observe the color diversity of the frogs on each island firsthand. Personally, catching these frogs has pushed us to venture out of our comfort zones and deeper into the forest.

Our perceptions of the rainforest have quickly changed, giving us newfound appreciation for all the life it contains. Coming face to face with a Golden Orb Weaver no longer sends our hearts racing, and the screech of a Cicada doesn’t give us the chills. Instead, we now see the importance of all the species, no matter how small, fanged or hairy. Every fern, epiphyte and leaf-cutter ant has its place in this diverse ecosystem.

Panamá has continued to amaze us with its torrential rainstorms, delicious plantains and friendly communities. Every day we experience new aspects of our home from the coral reefs to the busy streets of Bocas Town. We are thrilled to continue learning about our new home and all of our friends in and out of the forest.

→ Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies in Panama