The Pearl Island Archipelago
- The Pearl Island Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean about 30 miles off the coast of Panama is made up of a few hundred islands, mostly uninhabited and pristine with refreshing sea breezes and an abundance of bird and marine life.
- Panama is below the hurricane track so the Pearl Island Archipelago is safe from hurricanes year round.
- The Pacific side of Panama has twice the amount of sunny days as the Caribbean side of Panama
- The wildlife of the Pearl Islands includes wild pigs, iguanas, agoutis, parrots and many birds, including the famous “Blue Footed Booby”.
- The area is an important biosphere zone and migration route for many species of birds, animals and cetaceans, including dolphins and is a breeding ground for Humpback whales, which can be seen readily from Isla Del Rey’s shores.
- The archipelago is a highly sensitive and fragile ecosystem that requires, and is provided by decree, special protection as a Marine Corridor and whale sanctuary that stretches from Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands.
- It is restricted to eco-sensitive sustainable green tourist development. With this in mind, biospheres, landscape, ecosystem and species on the island of Isla Del Rey and the Punta Coco Peninsula are protected and preserved for everyone’s enjoyment.
The Panamanian government declared the Pearl Island Archipelago part of the protected Marine Corridor and whale sanctuary that stretches from Cosa Rica to the Galapagos Islands. Panama has 43 Protected Marine Areas and along with other governments made a commitment to significantly increase these protected areas and accordingly was a signatory on the International Biodiversity Convention. Panama ratified its position in defense of the preservation of whales at the 61st meeting of the International Whaling commission (IWC).
The Pearl Island Archipelago is a breeding ground for Humpback whales. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) of Panama and environmental authorities in Panama are committed to conserve the Humpback whale and their habitat in the Pearl Island Archipelago. There are over 30 species of cetaceans found in Panamanian waters, including the occasional Orca whales, Manta Rays, Sea Turtles, and even the very large and gentle Whale Shark.
The Pearl Island Archipelago features many nesting places for sea turtles, including five species which are threatened by extinction, such as those commonly called Baula, Green and Carey turtles.
Many yachts stop in the Pearl Islands enroute for Galapagos and the South Pacific and avail themselves of services on Contadora and find harbor in the many protected coves in the Pearl Island Archipelago.
FROM PANAMA TO ELIZABETH TAYLOR: THE STORY OF LA PEREGRINA PEARL
As far back as the days of the Conquistadors, divers had been digging up treasures from the depths of the “Archipiélago de las Perlas.” Black slaves had once fished the famed “La Peregrina” pearl — a magnificent, softly shimmering 50-carat jewel — from the waters of the archipelago. The shells also held the promise of fortune, offering wealth in the form of mother-of-pearl, a highly sought-after luxury material used in the fashion of the day.
Discovered in Panama in the 1500s by an African slave diving off Panama’s Pearl Islands, “La Peregrina” is one of the most famous pearls in the world.
Soon after its discovery, the white pear-shaped pearl was taken to Spain where it became part of the crown jewel collection. Around 1554, Phillip II of Spain gave the pearl to Queen Mary I of England as an engagement present. When Bloody Mary died in 1558, it was returned to Spain and worn by a succession of Spanish queens over the next 250 years.
In 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Spain and took the pearl with him back to France. Years later, Napoleon III, who was exiled in England and facing financial difficulties, sold” La Peregina” to the Marquis of Abercorn.
In 1969, Welsh actor Richard Burton spent $37,000 at a Sotheby’s auction to buy “La Peregrina” from the Duke of Abercrombie as a gift for his wife Elizabeth Taylor.
In December 2011 at Christie’s in New York, Taylor’s necklace with “La Peregrina” sold for a record price of more than $11 million.
Bloody Mary (left) and Elizabeth Taylor (right)