Bocas del Toro Research Station

Coibita or Ranchería Island is located in the Gulf of Chiriqui, off Coiba Island, in the South Western portion of the Panamanian territory, close to the “Veraguas” province. The Island is part of the Coiba National Park, created by the Republic of Panama, in 2004.Coiba National Park was declared in 2005 a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, at the request of the Panamanian Environmental Authority (ANAM), which was based on scientific information provided by STRI.

Ownership of Coibita or Rancheria Island was granted in August, 2000 by the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Riverside, to the Smithsonian Institution, in accordance to the will of the deceased owner. In 2002, STRI’s Director was appointed by the Panamanian courts as Special Executor of the Island and as a result, STRI has been the sole legal caretaker of this property since that time. However, the ownership of the island is contested by third parties before Panamanian courts. It is our contention that once the legal proceedings have been completed, Panamanian judicial authorities will recognize that Rancheria Island belongs to the Smithsonian Institution. For past seven years, STRI has provided forest guards for the protection of the site and maintained a small, basic research facility on the island. This facility, however, is currently not available to researchers.