Bigi Pan, Waterfowl Paradise
Bigi Pan (Great Lake), a Special Management Area, is the largest lagoon in the north-western part of the Suriname Estuarine zone, where hundreds of thousands of (migratory) birds, including the striking Red Ibises and Pink Flamingos, find their food in the fish-rich water,
Price p.p starting at € 185.- (2 days, 1 night)
or € 220.- /p (3 days, 2 nights)
Galibi is the general name given to the two Carib villages located on the coastal area at the border
with French Guyana; Langaman kondre and Christiaan kondre. Galibi takes approximately 4.5 hours
to reach. There is first a bus drive of about 3.5 hours to Albina, located at the banks of the
Marowijne River. From there follows a one-hour boat trip to Galibi. The Galibi Nature Reserve protects the turtle nesting beaches, which are situated at the corner formed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Marowijne River, right at the border with French Guiana. Sea turtles nest at various sandy beaches along the ever-changing coast of Suriname and the
wider Guiana's. The main sandy beaches at Galibi seem to be more stable than elsewhere, which benefits effective marine turtle protection. Galibi has a particularly large population of nesting sea turtles, and is one
of the few sites in the Western Hemisphere where the Olive Ridley turtle has been recorded to lay eggs.
The reserve also protects a small strip of hinterland which is of very recent origin - at best a few thousand years - and has a varied swamp, sand ridge, lagoon, and mangrove vegetation. The lagoons and mudflats host a variety of resident and migratory birds, such as various herons and also the scarlet ibis.
Galibi’s main asset remains its wild coast, which is a productive feeding ground for animals and man alike. It is a safe place for breeding sea turtles, and provides opportunities for research on these spectacular endangered marine reptiles.
Galibi Sea Turtle Breeding Beach:
The Galibi area has some useful facilities for researchers who are interested in sea turtles, migratory
birds, or coastal ecosystems. At Galibi, the STINASU offers permanent facilities available along the
Surinamese coast. The main facilities are at the Babunsanti beach: the large Warana tourist lodge,
the Babunsanti research lodge, and some buildings for staff and workers. Rooms in the Warana
lodge are also available to visiting researchers.
Apart from the Babunsanti lodge, another lodge has been built specifically for research purposes at
the Samsambo beach, a few kilometers to the North of Babunsanti. These two beaches are research
sites of the Dutch Biotopic Foundation, which studies the reproductive biology and migratory
behavior of the marine turtles.
The US Oceanic Society is also doing some turtle research at Babunsanti. The research sites are demarcated. The Stichting Natuurbehoud Suriname (STINASU) will first negotiate an agreement with the visiting researchers), in which conditional access to a specific area (e.g. the Babunsanti area) is granted, and an access fee is set per day for the researchers who are present in the area. The signed agreement will then serve as a valid research permit. The access fee will usually cover lodging, and can also cover other services for which daily rates are applicable . Services not explicitly covered by the access fee will be charged separately.
Suriname has internationally important beaches for three marine turtle species:The Leatherback ( Dermochelys coriacea);
The Green turtle (Chelonia mydas);
The Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) en
The Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricate).
The most important nesting sites are generally found in two areas: the beaches along the estuary of the Marowijne river, in and near the Galibi Nature Reserve and the ocean facing beaches between the Marowijne and Suriname river.
The nesting beaches in Suriname are not stable. Erosion at the East side and accretion at the West side causes the beaches to move in a western direction. This cycle repeats itself about every 35 years.
The nesting beaches are extensive and can only be reached by boat. Lack of proper material and equipment force personnel to live primitively and patrolling must be done by foot. All this is affecting efficiency of operations.Furthermore, because of the continual shifting of the nesting beaches, control stations either have to be broken down and removed periodically, or new camps have to be built.
Being aware of the status of marine turtles as being endangered, and knowing our responsibility towards the conservation of nature in general, Suriname declared two main nesting areas a nature reserve: the Wia Wia Reserve (declared in 1966) and the Galibi Nature Reserve (declared in 1969).
Besides, already in 1954, Suriname passed the Game Law, which declared all species of sea turtle nesting in Suriname a fully protected species. Unfortunately, because of the moving character of the beaches, the nesting beaches in the Wia Wia Nature Reserve have moved completely outside the nature reserve.
In 1964, Suriname started with an intensive research and active conservation program for sea turtles, which aimed at a complete protection of the nesting specimens on the beaches.
Activities within this research and conservation program also included daily counting of the number of nests for each species, relocating of endangered nests, the so called "doomed" nests, beach patrol and education/information services about sea turtles to the public. These activities are still going on.