Photographer Susan Seubert shoots the Panama Canal for National Geographic Expeditions

One hundred years ago yesterday marked the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal.  The building of the canal has a long and interesting history and represents one of the major engineering feats of modern man.  France started work on the project in 1881 but stopped work because of the high mortality rate from tropical disease.  The United States took over the project in 1904.  The canal took an entire decade to complete.  The canal cuts through the Isthmus of Panama and connects the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea via 48 miles of water and a series of locks.  Last December, I was on board the National Geographic Sea Bird as the National Geographic Photography Expert for the Costa Rica and Panama Expedition.  Our final adventure in Panama was to pass through the entire canal, including spending some time on Isla Barro Colorado at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.  Our route took us through the canal from the Pacific to the Caribbean.  It was a truly remarkable experience.  Here are some  pictures to illustrate our transit.  Enjoy!

Panama city as seen while Transiting the Panama Canal, Panama including views of Frank Gehry's colorful Bio Museum

Panama city as seen while Transiting the Panama Canal, Panama including views of Frank Gehry’s colorful Bio Museum

Entering the canal by passing under the Bridge of the Americas near Panama City

Entering the canal by passing under the Bridge of the Americas near Panama City

After being at sea and experiencing the world of tropical jungles, it was a jolt to suddenly be in the middle of an industrial area, which is itself surrounded by dense forest in some areas.

After being at sea and experiencing the world of tropical jungles, we were jolted  to suddenly be in the middle of an industrial area, which is itself surrounded by dense forest.

Panamanian officials joined us in order to ensure safe passage through the locks system.

Panamanian officials joined us in order to ensure safe passage through the locks system.

Barro Colorado Island, a site for the study of lowland moist tropical forests owned by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Panama Canal and is part of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument.

Barro Colorado Island, a site for the study of lowland moist tropical forests owned by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Panama Canal and is part of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument.

How big are the trees?  Very big. :-)

How big are the trees? Very big. 🙂

You definitely will feel like swimming because of the heat and humidity, but you'll be taking your chances with the wildlife.

You definitely will feel like swimming because of the heat and humidity, but you’ll be taking your chances with the wildlife.

A very cooperative Spotted Ant bird was sitting very still for a portrait.  I quickly learned that it was because I was standing on top of its prey, which were making themselves quite at home on my shoes, then pants, then, eeek!!!

A very cooperative Spotted Ant bird was sitting very still for a portrait. I quickly learned that it was because I was standing on top of its prey, which were making themselves quite at home on my shoes, then pants, then, eeek!!!

Our ship, the National Geographic Sea Bird, tethered to one of the trains that guide the ship through the canal.

Our ship, the National Geographic Sea Bird, tethered to one of the trains that guide the ship through the canal.

Most ships that transit the canal are huge, industrial type vessels.

Most ships that transit the canal are huge, industrial type vessels.

We arrive at the Caribbean Sea!  Such an amazing experience.

We arrive at the Caribbean Sea! Such an amazing experience.

 

 

 

 

 

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