It was the year 1502. A famous spanish explorer: Cristobal Colon, comes across a spectacular archipelago with nine islands of white sand and turquoise water on the north side of the Panamanian Isthmus. It was his fourth trip to the Americas. The main island he would name after himself: Isla Colon, due to its beauty and starfish cove he named Boca del Drago due to its resemblance to a dragon's mouth. The story of this island continues in 1890 as development on it began for the United Fruit Company and the banana plantations. Today Isla Colon is known for its bohemian vibe, nature, biodiversity and water sports.
On the wild side of Isla Colon there is a path through the tropical jungle. Take a walk through the tall palm trees by the sea and emerge at a beach which holds a secret. At first glance one might miss its secret, yet this is a place where constellations of stars are found beneath the surface of the sea. Bright tones of yellow, orange and red speckled on the sand peek through the surface of the sea. You get closer and realize the jewel tones are starfish.
Constellations in the Sand
The Species found at this beach is the Oreaster Reticulatus, also known as cushion starfish. A flat disc shaped body with five points emerging from its center. A hard shell on top protects it while the bottom has tiny suction tubes on its arms that move the food towards the middle where the mouth is. An omnivore, it will feed mainly on algae, sponges and small invertebrates. Their feeding filters the sand and water. Over 2000 starfish species can be found globally. Their bodies can regenerate an arm and sometimes they can be found having six or seven arms. Starfish can only breathe underwater therefore it is important to keep them in the sea where they belong.
The first instance of documentation of the species can be found in the Systema Naturæ Journal hosted online by the Biodiversity Library. The book was first published in 1735 as a 12 page work by Carl Linnaeus a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist and physician. Linneaus developed the modern system of naming organisms: Binomial Nomenclature, earning him the recognition as the 'father of modern taxonomy'. In the first edition he divided nature in three hierarchical classifications: Regnum Animale, animal kingdom; Regnum Vegetabile, plant kingdom; and Regnum Lapideum, Mineral Kingdom. Carl Linnaeus system build upon Gaspard and Johann Bauhin's classification system which had been developed 200 years before.
This Starfish was included in the 10th edition of the Journal Systema Naturæ published in 1758. By this point the journal was called 'Systema Naturæ, per regna tria naturæ. secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus differentiis, synonymis, locis' it included 4,400 species of animals and 7,700 species of plants which had been sent from all corners of the world to be published in the book. The tittle of the book translated from latin to english is "System of nature through the three kingdoms of nature according to classes, orders, genera and species, with characters, differences, synonyms, places."
Bocas del Toro
Sandy shores | Seagrass
50 cm | 20 inch