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.

a
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

 

 

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.

Jan 052017
 

bachelors-pano-4-3-3

How much would you be willing to pay for a full year of access to:

  • The best shore diving in the Americas, as voted by the readers of Scuba Diving magazine for 24 consecutive years.
  • Over 350 recorded species of fish and 57 species of coral.
  • Prime windsurfing locations, home to five “Top 10” world champion windsurfers
  • Beautiful white and pink sand beaches, which are home to more than 100 nesting areas for 3 endangered species of sea turtles.
  • Swim in tranquil turquoise water that stays between 78 and 84 degrees F (25-29C) year-round.

Plus, access to nearly 14,000 acres (6,500 hectares) of national park, rich in biodiversity, and home to many endemic species including:

  • More than 200 of the island’s 210 known bird species, including large flocks of Caribbean flamingos and Yellow-shouldered amazon parrots.
  • Over 9 miles (15 km) of shoreline, with sandy beaches plus salt flats, mangroves, cactus scrub, caves, and dry forest
  • A network of nature trails that you can hike to the highest point on the island
  • Opportunities to kayak, mountain bike, picnic and more

How is this possible? With a one-year nature tag, which provides access to both the Bonaire National Marine Park and Washington-Slaagbai National Park. It is available from non-profit STINAPA, who manages and protects the parks, as well as from local dive shops and the Tourism Office in Kralendijk.

The price? Only $25 USD, for a whole year. $10 day passes are also available.

stinapa-tag

This is among the greatest bargain in the Caribbean and the world.

We just bought our tags for 2017, and look forward to new adventures in the parks. What are you waiting for?

Nov 272016
 

This summer we had the good fortune to watch a Hawksbill Sea Turtle nest hatch in Bonaire.  We have long been curious about this phenomenon, and luck was on our side that evening.

Hawksbill turtles, like most sea turtles, return to the same beach each year to lay eggs.  The female turtle digs deep into the sand to lay her eggs.  Hawksbill can lay up to 150 eggs in a single nest, after which the incubation lasts for a period of around two months.

Please note:  We happened upon this nest hatching late at night and had no camera gear other than iPhones. Please excuse the quality of the pics.

Hawksbill Turtle Eggs

Hawksbill Turtle Eggs

When the eggs are ready to hatch, the hatchlings dig out of the hole as a group, generally at night.  Once they emerge, they head towards the brightest location they find.  Ideally, this would be the ocean, but in populated areas they often head in the wrong direction.  Hatchlings that fail to find the ocean quickly often die, and only one in a thousand baby sea turtles survives until maturity.

Newly hatched hawksbill turtle. It is being held by an experienced biologist who is gently shielding its eyes from the light to ensure the proper species ID. Once a photo is taken, all light sources must be removed.

Newly hatched hawksbill turtle. It is being held by an experienced biologist who is gently shielding its eyes from the light to ensure the proper species ID. Once this ID photo was taken, all light sources were removed.

Excavating the nest

Excavating the nest

This is where sea turtle conservation groups like Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) come into play.  This amazing organization has a mission to ensure that Bonaire’s turtles have a secure future.  Turtle nest monitoring is one of many valuable functions that STCB performs. In Bonaire, there are an average of 75 turtles nests each year.

STCB monitors each known nest in Bonaire and oversees the emerging hatchlings to ensure that as many as possible make it to sea.  Part of this process entails excavating the next to check for survivors and count the eggs.

The nest excavation

The nest excavation

After the excavation is complete and the eggs are counted, the baby turtles are taken to a dark location on the island and carefully placed into the sea.  This gives them the best possible chance to survive their entry into the world.

STCB does incredible work to ensure the health of Bonaire’s sea turtle population.  Please consider supporting this organization so that it can continue to make a difference.

Donate to STCB

Volunteer with STCB

Purchase STCB merchandise on Bonaire