Jul 312015

I have a lot of fish portraits that I’ve been meaning to post.  Steve has been very busy photographing the small things (blennies, gobies and other small creatures).  And me, I’ve had to put my camera aside for a while due to hand surgery.  It’s tough – I can’t lie.  Since the surgery, I’ve been on a few dives with no camera, and it feels so strange.  I suddenly have all of this “free time” underwater.   And what do I do with my hands?  Fold them neatly I suppose.

So this…

Me with Camera

Turned into this…

Me with "Free Time", hands folded neatly

Me with “Free Time”, hands folded neatly

Now for the fish shots.

Barred Hamlet, Something Special

Barred Hamlet, Something Special

Sharpnose Pufferfish, Bari Reef

Juvenile Slender Filefish, Bari Reef

Longlure Frogfish, Yellow Submarine

Longlure Frogfish, Yellow Submarine

Juvenile French Angelfish, Yellow Submarine

Juvenile French Angelfish, Yellow Submarine

Shorthead Blenny, Something Special

Shorthead Blenny, Something Special

For other avid underwater photographers, have you had to put down your camera due to injury?  How did it feel? Did you still dive?

Jul 152015

Last week we attended the 12th annual Jellyfish Jam at Karel’s Beach Bar.  The evening’s host, and the founder of the Jellyfish Jam, was Bud Gillan.  Bud is a jellyfish scientist, educator and co-leader of CIEE Bonaire’s High School Abroad program.

Eight to ten days after a full moon, the box jellyfish species Alatina alata swarms close to shore for purposes of reproduction.  During the jellyfish jam, species are collected (with a permit) for research at CIEE.

Specimen bucket

Specimen bucket

Attendance was high this year, thanks in part to the contingent of high school students involved in CIEE’s High School Abroad Program.  For some of these students, this program marked their first time learning about marine biology, and you can see the wild-eyed enthusiasm in their faces.

The crowd at this year's Jellyfish Jam

The crowd at this year’s Jellyfish Jam

Bud Gillan, left, instructs a student in proper handling of Alatina alata

Bud Gillan, left, instructs a student in proper handling of Alatina alata

CIEE students admiring a specimen

CIEE students admiring a specimen

Students with specimen

Alatina alata in Bonaire

I couldn’t let the students have ALL of the fun, so I went in for a closer look.

Bud (left), me (right), Alatina (center)

Bud (left), me (right), Alatina (center)

Students also took part in the Jelly Jam by collecting the jellies from the water (aka, jellyfishing), using colanders.

Students "jellyfishing"

Students “jellyfishing”

Students jellyfishing

It was so much fun for us to interact with and learn from these students.  We met them a week prior when we gave a talk to them as part of their program.  They came from all around the United States, as well as from Bonaire, to learn about marine biology and coral reefs.  If their curiosity, intelligence and maturity is any indication of the traits of our future generation, we are in good hands.

Note:  The sting of Alatina alata is dangerous and causes extreme pain.  Do not seek out, touch or handle this species.  In these photos, we are touching only the bell of the jellyfish under direct supervision of an experienced scientist.  Do not do this on your own.

Jul 032015

Today we spotted several flamingos on our way to lunch at Sorobon.  We decided to stop and enjoy the view, while keeping a respectful distance to the shy-natured birds.

Flamingo at Sorobon

Bonaire is home to the biggest natural flamingo sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere, and the flamingos are legally protected on the island.  The flamingo found on Bonaire is the Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber).

Flamingo at Sorobon

Flamingo with Sorobon’s windsurfers

Approximately 7,000 flamingos come to Bonaire from Venezuela to breed, feed and care for their chicks.  Many of the birds return to Venezuela on a nightly basis.

Flamingo on Bonaire

You’ve probably noticed that these particular flamingos lack the vibrant coral color for which flamingos are known.  The color, in fact, is not present at birth.  It comes from the cartenoids in the brine shrimp and other larval species that the flamingo ingests.  Most likely the flamingos in the photo are young or nearly adult, and they are not yet mature enough to have developed the bright coral plumage.

For more about the Caribbean Flamingo-

Caribbean Flamingo Fact Sheet

Tourism Bonaire Fauna



Jun 242015

In late April/early May, an enormous baitball (composed of the fish masbango and others) appeared in front of the popular dive and snorkel spot Bachelor’s Beach.  Divers and underwater photographers were in awe over this incredible natural phenomenon.  Both locals and tourists alike flocked to the beach to witness this spectacle. But as the news spread on land, a very sad situation emerged.  Fishermen descended upon the beach with gigantic nets and laid them over the reef (which is in the Marine Park) in an attempt to harvest the mass of fish. What ensued was an intense debate, both in real time and on Facebook.  Much to the amazement of many, STINAPA declared this activity to be legal.

Bonaire resident Adnan Hassan has written a thought provoking piece about this situation, and I’d like to share it with you.  It has been published in this week’s Bonaire Reporter.  To read it, please click on this link and scroll down to page 10.

I applaud Mr. Hassan for his efforts in spreading the word about this situation.  It’s a great first step towards policy change, which is much needed in situations such as this.

Tell us what you think about this situation in the comments section.  We would love to hear your views on this topic.


Note to my readers, I’m sorry for the dearth of activity on the blog this month.  Issues related to my Rheumatoid Arthritis have curbed my ability to spend time writing and photographing for the past few weeks.  The good news is that things are looking up!