Oct 102017
 

The 2017 Hurricane Season has managed to leave a large scar on the Caribbean, as many of its beautiful islands have been ravaged by two major hurricanes – Irma and Maria.  It saddens us deeply to know that so many people have lost their homes and their livelihoods.

Many of our friends have asked how they can help.  To that end, and with her permission, I am sharing a post created by the talented (and super sweet) Chrissann Nickel, founder of the website Women Who Live on Rocks.

**********

Every new photo I see out of the islands that have been ravaged by Hurricane Irma & Hurricane Maria sickens me. Imagining how truly terrified everyone must have been during the storm and the dire situation the survivors are in now makes my soul ache. I wish I could take that pain away from our fellow islanders. I wish I could rescue them from the hell they are living in now. I am at a loss for words. And hurricane season continues to wreak havoc. My heart breaks for all those who experienced Irma and are still there, in need of rescue and basic life services.

I happened to already be away on vacation when the storms hit and have watched this horror from afar. I, like so many others, have lost my home, most of my possessions, and the island life that I loved so much. It is a surreal feeling – knowing that when I closed up my home to leave for vacation, I was walking away from everything I know and cherish. But I am one of the lucky ones. I did not experience that storm and I am safe in the US now.

The islands you love need your help desperately.

If you are a tourist who has ever visited these islands, please help. If you are someone who has ever dreamed of living in “paradise,” please help. If you used to live on an island, please help. If you are a fellow islander, please help.

*photo via Shaun Schroeter on Facebook

People have lost their businesses, their livelihoods, their homes, and all of their worldly possessions. They are in need of food, shelter, and evacuation. The situation is immediate and dire. The widespread destruction throughout the Caribbean is unprecedented.

I have tried to compile a list of ways you can help NOW for each of the islands effected. If you have additional organizations that you think need to be shared, please add them in the comments space of this post below or in the comments of the link of this post shared on our Facebook page.

Here is what I have so far, by region:

GENERAL CARIBBEAN

Caribbean Tourism Organization

Global Giving

Sailors Helping

OXFAM

CDEMA

Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Save the Children

Direct Relief

Samaritan’s Purse

Caribbean Rotary Clubs

Help Resort Staff Throughout the Caribbean

Donate via Apple Store (How To)

Irma Aftermath

ShelterBox

All Hands Volunteers

Sandals Foundation

ARK / BWA Aide

ANGUILLA

Anguilla Go Fund Me

Help Anguilla Rebuild Now

Anguilla Help

Help Rebuild Seaside Stables Anguilla

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA

Halo Foundation – Barbuda Relief Effort

Barbuda Go Fund Me

Barbuda Recovery

Barbuda Hurricane Animals

Antigua & Barbuda Red Cross

CUBA

Help Cuban Animals

DOMINICA

Dominica Go Fund Me

UrtheRootz Mission: Rebuild Dominica

PUERTO RICO

Vieques Love

Vieques Citizens

Puerto Rico Real Time Recovery Fund

NVOAD Volunteers

Save the Children – Puerto Rico

Acacia Puerto Rico

United for Puerto Rico

Friends of Puerto Rico

ST BARTH

St. Barth Disaster Relief Fund

St. Barth Go Fund Me

Gustavia Relief Fund

ST MARTIN / ST MAARTEN

St Maarten Go Fund Me

Rebuild SXM

Dutch Sister Islands Fund

French St. Martin

Goisco

SXM Paws – Animal Relief Fund

St. Maarten Hurricane Relief

THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

BVI Relief Fund

Virgin Unite Community Support Appeal

Jost Van Dyke Go Fund Me

BVI Government via Pledgeling

Three Sheets Sailing – Accepting Mailed Donations

BVI Go Fund Me

BVI Immediate Relief – You Caring

Virgin Gorda Community – You Caring

Amazon BVI Pets Wish List

JVD Strong

BVI Strong Apparel

Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society

BVI Volunteers

THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS

Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands

St. John Community Foundation

Virgin Islands Relief

Irma Relief for our Sister Islands

Love for Love City by Kenny Chesney

St. John Rescue

Art for Love City

Gifft Hill School

Tim Duncan VI Relief

USVI “Adopt a Family”

United Way USVI

My Brother’s Workshop

USVI Amazon Wish List

ReVIve the VI

St. John Go Fund Me

Patient Assist VI

USVI Recovery

Animal Evacuation

TURKS & CAICOS

Turks & Caicos Go Fund Me

Turks & Caicos You Caring

Turks & Caicos Just Giving

Friends of Beaches – Turks & Caicos

THE BAHAMAS

Bahamas Humane Society

Bahamas – You Caring

I know this is overwhelming. There are so many places that need help. But contributing literally ANYTHING that you can is what counts. And if you can keep contributing over time (add it to your monthly budget!), that would be even better. Pick one, pick several!

*photo via Brittany Meyers on Facebook

Please share this with everyone that has ever been touched by these beautiful islands – even if it’s just through a screensaver.

Additionally, keeping these islands and their people at the forefront of the media is essential. People quickly forget, but these islands will need help in the long haul. Any news coverage you are able to obtain to feature the islands in need would be incredibly helpful. Think local, think global.

Thank you for caring. The islands will come back to their glory one day. Now’s the time to point them in that direction.

Aug 142017
 

For almost two months we’ve been working on a secret project. We’ve spent hours watching, waiting and studying, all the while trying our best to respect this beautiful gift that Mother Nature bestowed upon us. We’ve been so eager to share bits and pieces of this with you, but we needed to see it through to completion. Now we can finallly reveal our secret from start to finish.

Special thanks to Bruce Zavon for contributing photos and a video.

Photos by Steve Schnoll, Meredith Schnoll and Bruce Zavon.

Jul 172017
 

On July 2nd, Echo held an open house at Kunuku Dos Pos in Rincon.  For those who aren’t familiar with this organization, Echo is a non-profit group with a mission to protect the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot (Amazona Barbadensis) on Bonaire and in the Caribbean.  We attended the open house to learn more about this wonderful organization and its mission here on the island.

One of Echo’s main projects is reforestation of the habitat of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot in Bonaire. By growing and planting indigenous trees at sites all around the island, Echo is helping to restore the unique habitats favored by this amazing bird.  In addition to the extensive reforestation effort, Echo also conducts research (such as nest monitoring and roost counts) and rehabilitates injured and illegally captured parrots.

This beautiful parrot lives at the Echo kunuku in a spacious enclosure. It was an illegal pet and can not be released into the wild. Echo cares for it, and others like it.

Echo also cares for a pair of Scarlet McCaws that were illegal pets and can not fend for themselves in the wild.

At Echo’s Kunuku Dos Pos, they also have an indigenous tree nursery, at which members of the public can purchase indigenous trees (which are favored by the Amazon Parrots) to plant on their own property.

The entrance to Echo’s kunuku in Rincon

Echo conducts public tours each Wednesday at 4:30.  Please visit if you are interested in learning more about its important work.

Email – Info@echobonaire.org

Call –  701 1188

A wild Yellow-shouldered Parrot in Rincon, Bonaire

Jun 252017
 

When most people think of “birds” and “Bonaire”, they picture the island’s unofficial mascot – the Caribbean Flamingo.  Bonaire’s flamingos are undoubtedly a thing of beauty and awe, but they are only part of the picture when it comes to Bonaire’s avian life.

A juvenile flamingo, rendered in Black and White

Over 210 species of birds call Bonaire home.  From shore birds to sea birds to land birds, Bonaire is an often-overlooked haven for birders and bird photographers.  It’s our goal to spot and photograph as many of these fliers as possible.

Luckily, we don’t have to leave the house to find beautiful subjects.  Our own yard is a rich source of inspiration.

A bananaquit rests in our garden in the bougainvillea

A Yellow-shouldered Amazon parrot enjoys a snack in our backyard

Bonaire’s shore birds and wading birds can be found throughout the island in the mangroves, salinas, and ocean shores.

Easily identified by its bright red beak, the American oystercatcher, true to its name, enjoys a diet of oysters, clams and mussels.

Steve caught this American oystercatcher as it prepared for take-off

Sharing the shore with the oystercatcher is the common Brown pelican.  Although it seems rather large, the Brown pelican is the smallest of the eight species of pelican.

Brown pelican eating a fish

Approximately thirteen species of Herons and Egrets are found among Bonaire’s shores.

Reddish egret

A Yellow-crowned night heron feasts on a crab

A Green heron rests on a mangrove root

And finally, we’re excited to announce that scientists have discovered a new Bonairean bird species with a wingspan of 60.3 m (197.83 ft)!  We finally managed to photograph it in its native environment.

KLM Airbus A330 bound for Amsterdam

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

What is your favorite bird on Bonaire?

Jun 122017
 

On June 3rd, Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire (CRFB) celebrated World Ocean’s Day with Coralpalooza 2017.  Coralpalooza is a chance for all certified divers to engage in reef restoration activities, after a shortened briefing.

During the briefing, divers learned the basics of the coral restoration process.  As shown on this slide, the coral grows much more quickly in the monitored environment of the nursery than in the wild.

These are young Elkhorn corals which have been transplanted onto the reef at Buddy Dive. They are affixed to the sea floor with marine epoxy. They will continue to grow and form a reef system.

So happy to be back to work with CRFB!

Steve at the end of the dive

Thanks to Francesca Virdis and her team, Coralpalooza was a huge success.  Over 80 divers participated in the cleaning of 70 coral trees (both elkhorn and staghorn coral).  We celebrated with a sunset party on the beach at Buddy Dive.

Steve and me celebrating a successful Coralpalooza and also my return to diving after a year of recovery from two major hip surgeries.

 

STINAPA has held multiple clean-up events since the oil from the April 23rd Trinidad oil spill  began its assault on Bonaire’s east coast.  As of June 8th, Selibon has reported the following figures related to the oil spill clean-up:

Total tar/oil debris collected –  25,040 Kg (55,204 pounds)

From Lagun – 18,060 Kg

From Willemstoren area – 1,300 Kg

From Sorobon – 3,900 Kg

From Washington Park – 1,780 Kg

 

Odds & Ends

-Salt Pier has re-opened for diving!

-A whale shark was spotted on Bonaire’s coast last Wednesday by divers with Dive Friends   Bonaire.  Here is a peek.  What a lucky group of divers!