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      The Boquete Feria de Las Flores y del Café   01/12/2017

      The Boquete Feria de Las Flores y del Café begins Thursday, January 12th and runs until Sunday, January 22nd. For those who have not yet seen -- and experienced -- this magnificent fair, you are in for a treat, and some inconveniences. Most importantly, you must see all of the flowers and the tiendas at and around the Fair Grounds here in Boquete.  During these eleven days you also need to be extremely careful, especially while driving and in planning your activities. In recent years there have been well in excess of 100,000 visitors to Boquete. Last year that number was closer to 200,000, and some predictions for 2017's Fair are closer to 300,000 people coming to our area to see the Fair. Traffic congestion will be the norm. Getting seats in restaurants will be difficult at times. Parking spaces will essentially be nonexistent. Buying groceries may be difficult and time consuming. Busses will be parked on the side streets, making driving difficult. There will be lots (as in LOTS) of people walking, standing around the bridge and the Feria and the many tiendas (small shops and stands [kiosks]) while taking pictures, talking, viewing the scenery, etc. Please be extremely attentive while driving, and drive slowly. Some streets will be blocked and require passes to use them. Other streets will simply be blocked based on congestion. Please be careful of your personal items, such as purses and wallets. Having so many people in one area creates a prime target for pickpockets and other maliantes to do their thing. To repeat, most importantly, you must see all of the flowers and the tiendas at and around the Fair Grounds here in Boquete.  Three closing thoughts. First: enjoy. Second: be safe. Third: you might wish to post your pictures, comments, reviews, etc., here on CL (start a topic or reply to an existing topic in http://www.chiriqui.life/forum/118-boquete-feria-de-las-flores-y-del-café/).   To provide general feedback or ask for help regarding Chiriqui.Life, please leave a posting in Problems, Feedback and Suggestions or email support@chiriqui.life or private message to @Admin_01.
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Keith Woolford

Peacock Bass Invasion devastated Panama's native species

3 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Quite a few folks I've met here have gone down to Gamboa near Panama City to go fishing for Peacock Bass in Lake Gatun or Alajuela. They generally have a fun day emptying one cooler and filling a few more with fresh fish to bring home, as Peacock Bass are plentiful and hungry. It's something I've always wanted to do myself but just haven't got it together to do so yet.

Recently I ran across this excellent article published by the Smithsonian Tropical Institute which explains their proliferation here and the devastating effect that their introduction to Panama has had on native species.

Peacock bass invasion had devastating, long-term impact on Panama’s Fish

By Beth King

In 1969, 60 to 100 peacock bass imported from Buga, Colombia, were introduced into a pond in Panama for sport fishing. Several individuals escaped. By the early 1970s, they colonized Gatun Lake, the reservoir forming the main channel of the Panama Canal. Forty-five years later, native fish populations in the lake still have not recovered according to a new Smithsonian report.

Peacock bass, Cichla monoculus, originally from the Amazon River and its tributaries, are voracious predators. They are considered delicious game fish and have been intentionally stocked for recreational and commercial fishing around the world.

bass photo

In 1973, Thomas Zaret and Robert Paine, working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) field station on Barro Colorado Island, published a study in Science magazine showing that 60 percent of the native freshwater fish in Gatun Lake were extirpated after the accidental release. Their study was one of the first to demonstrate how devastating predator introductions can be and remains one of the most highly cited studies on this subject.

“Very few studies have examined the long-term outcome of an invasion by a predatory fish,” said Diana Sharpe, postdoctoral fellow in staff scientist Mark Torchin’s lab at STRI and at Canada’s McGill University. “This is the perfect place to test Zaret and Paine’s prediction that certain species would never return to the lake by repeating their study 45 years later.”

camera

“Bob Paine passed away earlier this year, in his 80s,” Sharpe said. “I had the opportunity to correspond with him just a few months before his death, and he was very excited that someone was finally doing a follow-up. He kindly Fed-Exed a huge stack of unpublished data related to their original work…all the way to Panama!”

Sharpe teamed up with two Panamanian scientists, Luis Fernando De León, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts and research associate at INDICASAT-AIP in Panama, and Rigoberto González of STRI to capture fish in gill nets and beach seines. They photographed, weighed, measured and released most of the fish. Several fish of each species were preserved for reference.

“Seining was very tricky because it involves wading through the shallows dragging a heavy net,” Sharpe said. “The crocodile population in Gatun Lake has increased sharply since the 1970s. We had to abort our seining on more than one occasion after spotting crocs basking in the shallows. At one point, we actually caught a small croc and had to cut the net to release it.”

boat

“Zaret and Paine recorded 12 native fish species in the Trinidad arm of Gatun Lake in 1972 before the peacock bass invasion reached that region of the lake,” Sharpe said. “We recaptured only three of those species after extensive seining. Our study shows that despite the appeal of peacock bass as a sport fish, the introduction of a novel apex predator can have dramatic and long-lasting impacts on native communities, even in diverse tropical communities, which are sometimes thought to be more resistant to invasion.”

Of the 1471 fish they netted in Gatun Lake, 25 were native freshwater species and 10 were freshwater-tolerant marine species, which must have migrated into the lakes through the canal locks. Several other exotic fish have also increased over time, including the Jaguar Cichlid, Parachromis managuesis, the Oscar, Astronotus ocellatus, and the Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, not present in the lake in 1972.

As an additional way to test for predator effects, they also compared the fish communities in two invaded lakes, Gatun and Alajuela, with fish communities in Lake Bayano, where there are no peacock bass. Gatun and Alajuela were also invaded by the jaguar cichlid, sometime between 2004 and 2013. The abundance of native fish was much greater in Lake Bayano than in the lakes containing peacock bass, corroborating the pattern observed in Gatun Lake through time.

This is not the first case of an introduced fish doing away with the natives. Nile perch, Lates niloticus, released into Lake Victoria in Africa caused the presumed extinction of 250 endemic cichlid fish in the 1980s.

“This study illustrates the value of historical and long-term data collected at the Smithsonian in Panama,” Torchin said.  “The comparison would not have been possible without Zaret and Paine’s work 45 years ago around Barro Colorado. We never know when we’re going to go back and use data from studies in the past, but in Panama we are lucky to have data on fish populations that goes back to Hildebrand and Meek’s studies as part of the Smithsonian’s Panama Biological Survey in 1910.”

http://insider.si.edu/2016/12/peacock-bass-invasion-devastating-long-term-effects-native-panamanian-fish/#.WFGoOAfBDPw.twitter

 

Edited by Keith Woolford
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Very interesting.  I have to wonder how messed up the Great Lakes are now.  Thanks Keith

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When I was growing up on the Great Lakes in Michigan, perch were plentiful and the basis for all fish fries. The perch are now almost gone in the Great Lakes and the few left are very, very expensive. Kind of like corvina is in Panama -- getting scarce and expensive.

I think the solution to the Peacock Bass and also the Lionfish problem is "Eat 'em; beat 'em".

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