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Location Panama, Bocas del Toro
Central coordinates 82o 25.00' West  9o 24.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 16,414 ha
Altitude 0 - 20m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Sociedad Audubon de Panamá

Site description This area includes the extensive coastal wetlands extending from the Costa Rican border to Almirante Bay. On the inland side, the area is bordered by large banana plantations (c. 7,000 ha) especially around Changuinola and Guabito, and by areas devoted to cattle and subsistence agriculture. The surrounding area is inhabited primarily by afroantilleans, latinos and Ngöbe. Some Ngöbe live within the reserve. Access within the area is difficult except along water courses.

Key Biodiversity The globally-threatened Three-wattled Bellbird Procnias carunculata(common) and Bare-necked Umbrellabird Cephalopterus glabricollis (very rare) have been recorded, evidently on post-breeding migration from the highlands. However, Bellbirds have been recorded breeding on nearby Isla Colón and could also breed here. Five of 11 Panama species of EBA 019 (45%) occur, as do 15 of 42 (36%) of biome N05. Several endemic species of the Central American Caribbean Slope EBA also occur. It is one of only two sites in Panama for Nicaraguan Seed-Finch Oryzoborus nuttingi. No nesting colonies of colonial waterbirds are known. The status of rails and other aquatic birds in the area is poorly known. Large flocks of Turkey Vultures and Broad-winged and Swainson's Hawks occur in the area on passage migration, and the site almost certainly exceeds thresholds as a bottleneck site for these species. Although the region in general has been well studied ornithologically, the status of birds in the wetlands themselves is insufficiently known.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals known or probable for the area include Water Opossum, Central American Wooly Opossum, White-winged Vampire Bat, Thumbless Bat, Honduran White Bat, Crab-eating Racoon, Olingo, Neotropical River Otter, Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarundi, Puma, Jaguar and Baird's Tapir (Handley 1966, 1980, Valdespino and Santamaría 1997, Martínez pers. com.). The site has the densest population of West Indian Manatee in Panama (Mou and Chan 1990). Changuinola Beach, at the mouth of the Changuinola River, is a regionally important nesting area for Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles (Meylan et al. 1993). Other reptiles and amphibians include the frogs Dendrobates pumilio, Eleutherodactylus gollmeri* and E. noblei, the caecilian Gymnopis multiplicata, the lizards Diploglossus bilobatus* and Anolis insignis,* the snakes Urotheca pachyura* and Micrurus alleni, the turtle Kinosternon angustipons, and American Crocodile (Valdespino and Santamaría 1997 and literature).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Garden Emerald Chlorostilbon assimilis unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous-winged Woodpecker Piculus simplex unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-colored Woodpecker Celeus castaneus unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
White-collared Manakin Manacus candei unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Lovely Cotinga Cotinga amabilis unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Three-wattled Bellbird Procnias tricarunculatus unknown  2006  50-249 individuals  poor  A1  Vulnerable 
Snowy Cotinga Carpodectes nitidus unknown  2006  unknown  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Black-crowned Antpitta Pittasoma michleri unknown  2006  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Black-throated Wren Thryothorus atrogularis unknown  2006  unknown  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera winter  2006  250-999 individuals  poor  A1  Near Threatened 
Montezuma Oropendola Psarocolius montezuma unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Black-cowled Oriole Icterus prosthemelas unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Nicaraguan Seed-finch Oryzoborus nuttingi unknown  2006  unknown  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Crimson-collared Tanager Ramphocelus sanguinolentus unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Scarlet-rumped Tanager Ramphocelus passerinii unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Sulphur-rumped Tanager Heterospingus rubrifrons unknown  2006  unknown  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-crowned Euphonia Euphonia luteicapilla unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Olive-backed Euphonia Euphonia gouldi unknown  2006  unknown  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
San San - Pond Sak Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 16,414 is identical to site 16,414  
San San Pond Sak Wetland of International Importance 16,987 protected area contains site 16,414  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   major
Forest Mangrove  major
Coastline   major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
agriculture minor
hunting -
nature conservation and research major
tourism/recreation minor

Protection status San San Pond Sak was designated an Internationally Important Wetland under the Ramsar Convention in 1994. However, there are no park guards assigned to the area and hence little effective protection from illegal hunting and fishing, timber extraction, charcoal making, and clearing and burning for subsistence agriculture (although most of the area is unsuitable for farming). San San Pond Sak is contiguous with the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica (Franke 1993).

References Angehr, George R. 2003. Directorio de areas importantes para aves en Panama. Directory of important bird areas in Panama. Panama: Sociedad Audubon de Panama. Delgado, Francisco. 1985. Panama. In: Derek A. Scott & Montserrat Carbonell (compilers), A Directory of Neotropical Wetlands, pp. 420-438. IUCN, Cambridge, U.K. Franke, Joseph. 1993. Costa Rica’s National Parks and Preserves. Mountaineers, Seattle. Kennard, F. H. & J. L.Peters. 1928. A collection of birds from the Almirante Bay region in Panama. Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History 38: 443-465. Meylen, Anne, Peter Meylen, & Argelis Ruiz Guevara. 1993. Las tortugas marinas en las islas de Bocas del Toro. En/in: Stanley Heckadon-Moreno (ed.), Agenda Ecológica y Social para Bocas del Toro, pp 49-54. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama. Mou Luís, & David Chan. 1990. Estado actual y distri-bución de la población de manati (Trichechus mana-tus) en Panamá, con énfasis en la provincia de Bocas del Toro. IUCN, Costa Rica. Olson, Storrs L. 1993. Contributions to avian biogeography from the Archipelago and lowlands of Bocas del Toro, Panama. Auk 110:100-108. Peters, James L. 1931. Additional notes on the birds of the Almirante Bay region of Panama. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 71:310-345. Ridgely, Robert S., and John A. Gwynne. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Panama (Second Edition). Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. Valdespino, Iván A., and Dilia Santamaría (eds). 1997. Evaluación Ecológica Rápida del Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos y Áreas de Influencia, Isla Solarte, Swan Cay, Mimitimbi (Isla Colón) y el Humedal San San-Pond Sak, Provincia de Bocas del Toro. Tomo 1: Recursos Terrestres. ANCON, Panama. Wetmore, Alexander. 1965. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 1. Tinamidae (Tinamous) to Rhynchopidae (Skimmers). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Wetmore, Alexander. 1968. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 2. Columbidae (Pigeons) to Picidae (Woodpeckers). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Wetmore, Alexander. 1973. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 3. Passeriformes: Dendrocolaptidae (Woodcreepers) to Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Wetmore, Alexander, Roger F. Pasquier, and Storrs L. Olson. 1984. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 4. Passeriformes: Hirundinidae (Swallows) to Fringillidae (Finches). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: San San Pond Sak Wetlands. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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