A small island of Panama's San Blas Archipelago
San Blas Islands, June 2013

Panama’s Sinking Islands

This is a small island in the San Blas archipelago, one of about 370 that make up this Caribbean group off the coast of Panama. The vast majority aren’t more than a few feet above sea level. According to scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, sea levels around the islands are rising at a rate of about three-quarters of an inch annually. At that pace, the islands will be underwater in the next 20 to 30 years. I hope to return before they disappear.

I’m finally getting around to processing and editing a few hundred photos that were taken in mid-June 2013. Just a month later news analyst and historian Juan Cole highlighted in his newsletter and website Informed Comment the plight that the indigenous Guna, or Kuna, community that live on the islands are facing.

The indigenous community of the Guna (Kuna) live on islands off Panama and along a narrow strip of its coast, in the province of Guna Yala (Kuna Yala). But global warming and sea level rise are threatening their lives on those islands, and those of Carti Sugdup (Gardi Sugdup) have decided that they have to move to the mainland.

They may be the first but they won’t be the last. Below is an onsight report from an academic team from McGill University studying the reasons behind the relocation.

We came to the Guna community of Gardi Sugdup because the village decided to abandon its island and move to the mainland. This will be a first migration to the mainland in more than 100 years. We will try to understand why that decision was made.

I’m aiming to post a few galleries of photos before the end of the week.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 314th straight, was snapped on 15-Jun-2013.

ISO 400

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