Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas
- Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador)
- tel, info: 212 8000
- admission US$1
- 13:00-17:00 Tue-Fri, 10:00-17:00 Sat & Sun
Lonely Planet review for Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas
The Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas, a marine exhibitions center operated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), includes an informative marine museum with signs in English and Spanish, two small aquariums and a nature trail through a patch of dry forest containing sloths and iguanas.
There are many exhibits at the center, including a small six-sided building with sweeping views of the Bahía de Panamá that was built by Noriega for intimate gatherings. Today it houses a museum containing exhibits on the history of Panama's indigenous cultures.
At the museum you can also learn about the role that Panama's marine resources play in the country's economy, and the destructive and wasteful effects of harvesting fish and shrimp by net. All of the text is illustrated with high-quality photos.
Outside the museum is something to thrill ship enthusiasts: large, intelligent illustrations of vessels that allow visitors to glance out at the ocean and identify the types of ships waiting to transit the canal. There's a telescope that you can use free of charge to peer onto the boats and get an idea of what it's like to be a crew member on these tankers.
Two large aquariums, also part of the marine center, are 50m from the museum. One contains fish from the Pacific, the other fish from the Caribbean, allowing you to compare the two sets. You'll be struck by the difference - fish from the Caribbean are much more colorful, and much larger than fish from the Pacific. Staff on hand can explain to you the reasons for the differences.
Dry forests once lined Central America's Pacific coast. Relatively easy to clear and burn for agriculture, these forests have now all but disappeared. However, the forest that you can see from the center, which lines the shore just south of the Puente de las Américas, is a surviving patch of dry forest. There's even some dry forest near the aquariums - keep your eyes open for three-toed sloths as well as other wildlife.