Sep 152014
 

One of the best things we can do to help control the Caribbean lionfish population is to eat it.  Don’t be afraid!  It’s a fantastic white flaky fish with a wonderful texture.

Bonaire is far ahead of many other Caribbean islands when it comes to eradicating lionfish and creating consumer demand for it as a food fish.  You’ll find it at several of the island’s restaurants, thanks to a team of dedicated lionfish hunters and skilled chefs.  Thankfully, demand is high, and it’s not uncommon for restaurants to be sold out of lionfish.

One of our favorite ways to eat lionfish is on the beach with Hagen.  Hagen is the owner of, and chef at, Cactus Blue on the Beach.  This funky food truck is one of Bonaire’s most popular eating establishments, and for good reason.

cactus blue Cactus Blue on the Beach

Cactus Blue food truck

cactus blue2 1024x819 Cactus Blue on the Beach

The always-friendly Hagen is undoubtedly doing his part to help Bonaire’s reefs.  He hunts his own lionfish then skillfully serves them up in the form of his ever-popular lionfish burgers.

lionfish burger 1024x819 Cactus Blue on the Beach

The word is out, and everyone wants this highly-coveted lunchtime favorite.  But be forewarned, Hagen often sells out of lionfish well before noon.  But you can still get one of his awesome wraps or kite burgers (he makes a fantastic veggie wrap) and consume it while staring at the turquoise sea and pondering your next dive.

view from cactus blue 1024x731 Cactus Blue on the Beach

View from Cactus Blue’s current location

Cactus Blue is currently located on E.E.G. Boulevard by the airport runway.

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Sep 112014
 

Lately I’ve been thinking about simple ways to reduce plastic consumption.  Last week’s tip was one of the simplest – bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store.

While walking through Whole Foods this week (with my reusable bags stuffed in my purse, of course), I stopped in the health and beauty aisle to buy more products that I don’t need take inventory of the types of packaging used in the array of personal care products.  Not surprisingly, almost every lotion, potion, serum, vitamin and cream was encased in plastic.  I was not going to make headway in this aisle… And just as I began to head for the checkout line, the scent of verbena and lavender lured me back in.  Soap!  That was it!  Many of the soaps available at Whole Foods are packaged in paper.  Which leads me to…

Tip 2- Purchase soap packaged in paper in lieu of body washes in plastic bottles.  

This shouldn’t be too difficult, should it?

Sep 062014
 

In my last post, I touched on the growing global problem of plastic pollution.  Our oceans have become a dumping ground for plastic products of all types.

I’ve realized that I could do much more to help combat this problem.  It’s time to start making more conscious choices as a consumer in a plastic-laden society.

I have decided to start a new campaign on Reeftraveler called “Breakup with Plastic, Makeup with the Ocean” to share ideas about how we can reduce our reliance on plastic as consumers. Each week I will post a tip or reminder about positive change we can make.

This week’s tip focuses on one of the easiest things we can do to reduce our personal plastic use.

Tip 1 – Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store.

Approximately 300 billion single use plastic bags are used in the United States each year.  That’s an average of 1200 bags per person per year.  Most of those bags go right into the trash after our trip to the store.  Several cities, countries and jurisdictions have instituted a ban on plastic bags.  Don’t wait for your city or state to enact a ban – change your habits now.

Sep 032014
 

Did you know that every piece of plastic that has ever been produced still exists today?  The more I ponder that statement, the heavier it weighs on me.

I’ve long known that plastic is bad for marine ecosystems.  That’s why I stopped purchasing water in plastic bottles years ago.  I bring my own bags to the grocery store.  I don’t let the clerk give me a bag when buying just a small item or two.  I dutifully snip the rings that hold a 6-pack together.  I recycle.  I even participate in underwater clean-ups.  And yet, after reading Captain Charles Moore’s book “Plastic Ocean”, I don’t think I’m doing nearly enough.

While on a sailing voyage from Hawaii to California in 1997, Captain Moore, after deviating from his normal route, noticed that he was sailing through water resembling a “plastic soup”.  This area in the North Pacific Ocean was subsequently dubbed the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch.

GPmap 2012 NOAAMDP 1024x651 Plastic Ocean

NOAA Map Showing the Pacific Garbage Patches, Captain Moore discovers the Eastern patch

Astounded, and deeply concerned by what he had witnessed, Captain Moore has since dedicated his life to studying, researching and ultimately fighting against plastic pollution via his foundation Algalita Marine Research Institute.

“Plastic Ocean” has just given me a much needed education about plastics, their history and their impact on our oceans.  The facts are sobering.  This is not a small problem.  This is a huge problem!  And as a society, we continue to ignore it.  Out of sight, out of mind…

Marine debris on Hawaiian coast Plastic Ocean

“Marine debris on Hawaiian coast” photo by NOAA

I urge you to read the book, and then decide for yourself if you are doing enough to help curb our plastic addiction.  And in the meantime, here’s a 10 minute short film called Synthetic Sea which profiles Captain Moore’s quest.

 

Links for further reading

Plastics are Forever Brochure

Plastic Debris from Rivers to Sea Brochure

Research Paper – Density of Plastic Particles Found in Zooplankton Trawls from Coastal Waters of California to the North Pacific Central Gyre

My Plastic Free Life

NOAA Marine Debris

 

Donate to Algalita Marine Research Institue to help stop plastic pollution.

 

Aug 242014
 

Elusive.  Aloof.  Peculiar.  These are just a few adjectives that come to mind when I think of one of the ocean’s great masters of camouflage – the frogfish.  Having a particular fondness for critter spotting, I’m perpetually scanning that barrel sponge, pile of rubble or coral head in hopes of spotting one of these “lie in wait” predators. It’s almost become a game – an underwater “Where’s Waldo?”.

We spotted this longlure frogfish (Antennarius multiocellatus) on a recent dive in Bonaire.  Perched on the side of a purple sponge, this bright white beauty seemingly made no attempt at camouflage.

white frogfish 819x1024 The Al*lure* of the Frogfish

White frogfish in Bonaire

Here are some interesting facts about this unique family of fishes.

-Of all the predators in the animal kingdom, frogfish have the fastest strike speed.  Sometimes called “gulp killing”, this fish can expand its mouth at speeds reported to be as fast as 6 milliseconds.

Frogfish open mouth S 1024x819 The Al*lure* of the Frogfish

Frogfish Feeding, photo by Steve Schnoll   f8, 1/60, Iso 400

-They are cannibals.

-Frogfish are one of few fishes that can “walk”.

-The frogfish is a master of camouflage and can mimic the color, texture and shape of its surroundings.

 

Are you a good frogfish spotter?  Have you ever found one that contrasts so starkly with its surroundings, such as the white fish in the photo above?  Show us your frogfish photos (you can add a link in the comments section).