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!

 

May 302017
 

On April 23, 2017, an oil spill occurred at Trinidad’s Petrotin oil refinery in the Gulf of Paria. As a result of a ruptured storage tank, approximately 20,000 gallons (or 300 barrels) of crude oil cascaded into Trinidad’s Guaracara River (according to Trinidad and Tobago’s Guardian Online).

During the past month, the wayward blobs of oil have traveled in a westerly trajectory in the southern Caribbean sea.  Thus far, Venezuela (and its Los Roques islands), Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba have all reported the presence of oil on their shores.

When I imagine our weekly walk at Sorobon, I don’t envision stepping on gummy toxic blobs of crude oil, but this is exactly what happened this weekend.  Laughing Gulls, Snowy Egrets, Flamingos and Royal Terns all perched nearby as if nothing was amiss – oblivious to the danger that surrounded them.

Oil Spill Effects seen at Sorobon

The oil, seen here at Sorobon, has morphed into tar

Sorobon is home to endangered sea turtles, endangered mangrove forests, flamingos, queen conch and many other avian and aquatic species. This delicate ecosystem is a showcase of nature’s finest work, and now it is suffering daily assaults as the oil continues to wash in with the tides. The extent of the damage is not yet known and can not yet be assessed.

Thankfully, Bonaire has dedicated contingent of conservation agencies and volunteers who have been working tirelessly to contain the damage.  Yesterday, Steve joined STINAPA and Dutch military forces at a cleanup at Lagoen.

Dutch Military Forces at work, photo by Steve Schnoll

Clean-up efforts underway at Lagoen, photo by Steve Schnoll

Photo by Steve Schnoll

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) has also been working around the clock to help coordinate clean-up efforts.  This morning it held a clean-up at the old shrimp farm near Sorobon.

Photo courtesy of STCB

Photo courtesy of STCB

Your Help is Needed.  STINAPA Bonaire is coordinating clean-up efforts for the coming days. Please send an email to volunteer@stinapa.org (make sure to include your name, phone number and address) if you would like to assist in these efforts on Bonaire’s east coast. Also, please follow the Facebook pages for Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire and STINAPA.

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If you find sea turtles, birds or other marine life affected by the oil, please call the STCB Hotline at (+599) 780 0433 or Stinapa at (+599) 717 8444.

Several friends and frequent Bonaire tourists have asked what they can do to help from afar. We will inquire and share what we find.

Online News Sources

Oil Spill Reaches Bonaire

Trinidad Oil Spill Pollutes Beaches in Venezuela

Oil Spill Reaches the ABC Islands

The Oil Spill is Spreading in the Gulf of Paria – includes an aerial photos of the spill site

 

 

Mar 142017
 

Steve and I recently traveled to Lake Tahoe for the wedding of a close family member.  It was my first visit to this magical mountain playground, but it won’t be my last.  While I grew up in the mountains as an avid skier, I lost my fondness for cold weather and any and all sports that go along with it.

I haven’t willingly been in the snow for several years, so I was unsure as to how I would handle the environment in Lake Tahoe in March.  Would I remain inside, huddled by a fire, making every attempt to avoid the out-of-doors except when absolutely necessary (i.e. when leaving the premises for the wedding or rehearsal dinner)?  Or, would I don my snow boots, brave the elements and venture down to the lake to take photos?  Thankfully, my obsession with love of photography took charge, and as it turns out, I had a great time in the fresh mountain air.

Panoramic lake view in Incline Village

Panoramic view of Lake Tahoe

We had two sunny winter days during our trip

We had two sunny winter days during our trip

The sky during a storm which dropped two feet of snow

The sky during a storm which dropped two feet of snow

Steve and me braving the storm

Steve and me braving the storm

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Incline Village, which is nestled amongst the evergreens on its own private beach (with pier).  I was very pleased with our lodging choice.  The resort has a beautiful spa, several outdoor hot tubs and a large heated outdoor pool that I used daily.  It also has several good restaurants, a Starbucks and a great gift shop.  And if you ever get a chance to dine at the Lone Eagle Grill – run, don’t walk.  Not only is the food amazing, but the view is one of the best you’ll find in the area.  And for the skiers out there, the resort has a ski valet and is close to Northstar and Mount Rose ski resorts (among others).

The beach at the Hyatt Regency Incline Village

The beach at the Hyatt Regency Incline Village

The resort's pier - no doubt amazing during summer

The resort’s picturesque pier

Close-up of the beach, which was comprised of pebbles in an array of neutral hues

Close-up of the beach, which was comprised of pebbles in an array of neutral hues

Large pinecone were found all along the shore

Large pinecones were found all along the shore

Devouring the Baked Tahoe at the Lone Eagle Grille. This marshmallow-meringue encrusted dessert is pure perfection!

Devouring the Baked Tahoe at the Lone Eagle Grille. This marshmallow-meringue encrusted dessert is pure perfection!

There were a few wildlife sightings during our brief time exploring the lake’s beaches.

A beautiful mallard on the shoreline of the lake

A beautiful mallard on the shoreline of the lake

Well, alright, not exactly wildlife... This is Piper, she travels around the country in an RV.

Well, alright, not exactly wildlife… This is Piper, she travels around the country in an RV.

The wedding that we attended was the perfect representation of the couple’s love for Lake Tahoe and the mountains.  It was held at a beautiful rustic-chic venue near the lake.  The couple attended to every detail themselves, including hand-crafting most of the decor (including the centerpieces).

The Groom hand made the wedding place card holders

The Groom hand made the wedding place card holders

The Groom's father hand-crafted a rustic wooden bench for guests to sign.

The Groom’s father hand-crafted a rustic wooden bench for guests to sign.

Champagne was served on the balcony overlooking the pine forest and snow-capped mountains

Champagne was served on the balcony overlooking the pine forest and snow-capped mountains

Steve and me during cocktail hour

Steve and me during cocktail hour

I can’t wait to return to this paradise, perhaps in the warmer months.  Have you been to Lake Tahoe?  Winter or summer?

Feb 122017
 

The heavier rains that graced the island in December and early January have eased up considerably.  The island has been sunny, breezy and, well, just about perfect.

This week we have hosted family from the US. It’s been a busy and fun week of exploring and playing tourist, as well as a great reminder of everything this island has to offer.

Bananaquit at Cadushy Distillery.

Bananaquit at Cadushy Distillery

Steve with my step father Frank at Boka Onima

Steve with my step father Frank at Boka Onima

Entrance to Germaine's studio at GN Art

Entrance to Germaine’s studio at GN Art

Garden at GN Art

Garden at GN Art

Bird sanctuary area at Gotomeer Lake

Bird sanctuary area at Gotomeer Lake

The shoreline in Playa at downtown Kralendijk

The shoreline in Playa at downtown Kralendijk

With my mom in Playa

With my mom in Playa

Sailing with Blue Bay Boat Rentals Bonaire

Sailing with Blue Bay Boat Rentals Bonaire

Rainbow over Kralendijk

Rainbow over Kralendijk

Tui Dreamliner landing at BON

Tui Dreamliner landing at sunset

Sailboat at sunset

Sailboat at sunset from Rum Runners at Captain Don’s Habitat

Here are some links to the highlights of the week-

Drinking a cactus at Cadushy Distillery in Rincon – It is worth a trip to Rincon to taste their handcrafted spirits and relax in their garden.

Sailing with Blue Bay Boat Rentals – we had a great trip with this operation.  I highly recommend them for a sunset sail, snorkel sail or a daily boat rental.  The owner and crew area very friendly and professional, and the boat was in great condition.

Art shopping with Germaine at GN Art – Germaine’s driftwood art is unique and beautiful, and she is a delight.

Jan 142017
 

The island is still receiving daily rains (and we are still not complaining).  Due to the road conditions in the North, STINAPA has closed Washington Park until January 18 (conditions will be re-evaluated at that point).

Divers from the organization Freedom at Depth are enjoying a stay on Bonaire.  Freedom at Depth is Canada’s premier scuba diving training organization for those with disabilities.  We’ve met several of the divers, and their motivation and determination is impressive.  If you see them diving at Divi, stop by and say hello.

Due to elevated sea temperatures, NOAA recently issued a Coral Bleaching alert for Bonaire.  In December, STINAPA conducted a survey in response to the alert to ascertain the extent of the damage, if any.  The survey revealed that the impact was minor and that the health of the coral has stabilized.  The current situation is one of “No Stress”, per NOAA’s classification scale.

Here are some photos from around the island this week.

Sun rays illuminate Bachelor's Beach at sunset

Sun rays illuminate Bachelor’s Beach at sunset

Have you seen the amazing graffiti at the abandoned Esmeralda resort in the south?

Have you seen the amazing graffiti at the abandoned Esmeralda resort in the south?  It’s worth a look.

A wavy sea at Bachelor's Beach.

A wavy sea at Bachelor’s Beach.

A wet garden=a happy garden

A wet garden = a happy garden.  This is a Jatropha flower.

Reflection of palm leaves in raindrops in our garden.

Reflection of palm leaves in raindrops in our garden.