Aug 282015
 

Bonaire is home to 86 marked (and several more unmarked) dive sites- many reachable by shore.  And while we aim to explore almost all of them at some point, there are a few that we return to over and over again.  Among them is the site called Something Special.

Something Special is located at the north end of town (also called Playa P’abou) at Kaya Playa Lechi.  It’s an easy, shallow dive, and the current is generally light.  To enter the water here, one must walk down a short (but steep) bank of broken dead coral.  Once you step into the water, use caution to avoid boat traffic, including sailboats which are moored here.  Do not swim at the surface for any length of time.  Although we have seen others snorkeling here, we can’t recommend it.  There are many small fishing boats, dinghies and larger sailboats that motor here. Since there are plenty of safer snorkeling spots on the island, we don’t think it’s a risk worth taking.

The diverse array of small and often unusual species found here is what makes Something Special so special. Be sure to explore the sandy bottom as you swim out towards the mooring (which is at 13 feet).  Blennies, jawfish, bonefish and even reef squid are commonly found in this area.  Once we reach the mooring buoy, we like to descend to between 30-50 feet (9-15 m) and swim north towards the marina.

Redlip Blenny (Ophioblennius macclurei)

Redlip Blenny (Ophioblennius macclurei), Something Special

Bonefish (Albula vulpes)

Bonefish (Albula vulpes), Something Special

It’s not uncommon to spot frogfish at Something Special if you know where to look, or if you have luck on your side.

Longlure Frogfish (Antennarius multiocellatus), Something Special

Longlure Frogfish (Antennarius multiocellatus), Something Special

The Spotted Scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri) is also commonly found here.

Spotted Scorpionfish at Something Special

Spotted Scorpionfish at Something Special

In the reef creature arena, there are plenty of small worms, mollusks, crustaceans and others – making this site a macro-photographer’s playground.

Engel's Flabellina (Flabellina engeli), Something Special

Engel’s Flabellina (Flabellina engeli), Something Special

Blackline Fireworm (Chloela viridis), Something Special

Blackline Fireworm (Chloela viridis), Something Special

Spotted Cleaner Shrimp (Periclemenes yucatanicus)

Spotted Cleaner Shrimp (Periclemenes yucatanicus)

Below are some other shots from this richly-populated site.

Peacock Flounder eye (Bothus lunatus), Something Special

Peacock Flounder eye (Bothus lunatus)

Midnight Parrotfish (Scarus coelestinus)

Midnight Parrotfish (Scarus coelestinus)

Goldentail Moray (Gymnothorax miliaris)

Goldentail Moray (Gymnothorax miliaris)

What is the most unusual fish, creature or even behavior you’ve spotted at Something Special?  Or, if you haven’t yet dived here, what do you hope to see?

Aug 192015
 

A large part of Bonaire’s tourists arrive on the island with dive gear in tow, ready to jump in and explore the reefs. Some come for the surfing – windsurfing or kitesurfing that is.  And others arrive on a massive ship, take part in an activity or two, and leave by sunset the same day.  One thing they all have in common is an agenda – a mental list of the many things they want to do during their short stay in paradise.

What often strikes me is the frequency by which these land-based tourists inquire about volunteer opportunities on the island.  Some stay for only one or two weeks, yet they selflessly give a precious block of their vacation time to help one of the island’s many causes.

With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of organizations that welcome tourists who seek to donate their time.

 

Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire

The mission of Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire (CRF) is to develop affordable, effective strategies for protecting and restoring the shallow water population of staghorn and elkhorn corals along the coastlines of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire.  In order to accomplish this mission, volunteer scuba divers are always needed.  Prior to volunteering, divers must become a certified Padi Coral Restoration Diver.  The course is designed with tourists in mind, and it’s both educational and fun (I’ve taken the course, and I wholeheartedly recommend it).

Contacts-

Email – info@crfbonaire

Phone – (+599) 717-5080 ext. 528

Facebook

Coral Restoration Foundation nursery at Klein Bonaire

Coral Restoration Foundation nursery at Klein Bonaire

Cleaning the algae from a tree in the coral nursery

Cleaning the algae from a tree in the coral nursery

Divers in the coral nursery on Klein Bonaire

Divers in the coral nursery on Klein Bonaire

 

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) has been protecting Bonaire’s endangered sea turtles since 1991. Their mission is to “connect people to sea turtle conservation in ways that inspire caring for nature”.  Among the ways that tourists can help are to participate in fishing line cleanups and beach cleanups.  For more ways to volunteer, visit http://www.bonaireturtles.org/act

Contacts-

www.facebook.com/bonaireturtles

Local Hotline – 780-0433

Phone – (+599) 717-2225

 

Klein Bonaire Reforestation

In 2006, STINAPA initiated a reforestation project on Klein Bonaire, with the goal of restoring the island’s once-dense flora.  Volunteers are always needed to help care for the young plants and trees.

Contacts –

Email – ebeukenboom@hotmail.com

Facebook private message to Elsmarie Beukenboom

A young plant receives water on Klein Bonaire

A young plant receives water on Klein Bonaire

Volunteers hard at work at the Klein Bonaire base camp

Volunteers hard at work at the Klein Bonaire base camp

 

Quarterly Clean-up Dives Hosted by Dive Friends Bonaire

Dive Friends Bonaire hosts a clean-up dive on a quarterly basis.  Scuba divers can volunteer to remove trash and fishing line from a rotation of sites in downtown Kralendijk.  As a thank you to the volunteers, a barbecue is held that evening at the Dive Friends location at Hamlet Oasis.

The next 2015 clean-up dive will be held on October 17th.

Contacts-

Email – info@divefriendsbonaire.com

Facebook – Dive Friends Bonaire

 

Animal Shelter Bonaire

The animal shelter of Bonaire is where the island’s homeless cats and dogs find a loving refuge.  Animal-loving volunteers work tirelessly to see that the animals are well cared-for, vaccinated, spayed or neutered and provided with necessary health care.  The shelter is always looking for volunteers and donations of cash, food and supplies.

Contacts – 

Web form

Facebook – www.facebook.com/animalshelterbonaire

Phone- +0599-717-4989

The Shelter's new Cat Palace

The Shelter’s new Cat Palace

The cats enjoying play time

The cats enjoying their new palace

Have you volunteered during your trip to Bonaire?  Do you know of other Bonaire-based organizations that welcome tourist volunteers?

Aug 142015
 

Some recent shots from around the island.

Looking down at 1000 steps

Looking down at 1000 steps

Azure Water at 1000 Steps Dive Site

Azure Water at 1000 Steps Dive Site

The landscape leading to Boka Onima

The landscape leading to Boka Onima

Boka Onima

Boka Onima

East Coast windmills

East Coast windmills

The lighthouse

The lighthouse

Don't go in...

Don’t go in…

A cairn on the East Coast

A cairn on the East Coast

Kite Beach in the late afternoon

Kite Beach in the late afternoon

Aug 092015
 

I am a member of several underwater photography groups on Facebook.  My Facebook feed is filled with beautiful shots of coral reefs, reef life, petite macro subjects and occasionally whales and sharks.  I see so many shots on an average day that I tend to skim through them quickly in the interest of time.

Once in a while, a shot stands out.  I mean really stands out and makes me pause.  This is one such shot.

Hanging with Sofia, photo by Jonathan Sunnex

Hanging with Sofia, photo by Jonathan Sunnex

Jonathan Sunnex, aka Johnny Deep, is a Bahama-based world-champion freediver and photographer who captured this haunting image of his student, and fellow world-champion freediver, Sofia Gomez Uribe in the Dean’s Blue Hole at Long Island, Bahamas.

It wasn’t difficult to determine why I was so captivated and inspired by this photo.  As a scuba diver, my visits to the underwater world are made possible by large steel cylinders filled with a mixture of breathing gasses.  For Jonathan and Sofia, they need only their well-honed skills, their knowledge and training and a spirit of determination.  In the photo, Sofia hangs over a 663 ft deep (202 m) saltwater sinkhole after taking only one breath, and yet her composure is the picture of grace.

If you are interested in learning to free dive, you can find a list of Jonathan’s freediving courses here.

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?