Jul 172017
 

On July 2nd, Echo held an open house at Kunuku Dos Pos in Rincon.  For those who aren’t familiar with this organization, Echo is a non-profit group with a mission to protect the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot (Amazona Barbadensis) on Bonaire and in the Caribbean.  We attended the open house to learn more about this wonderful organization and its mission here on the island.

One of Echo’s main projects is reforestation of the habitat of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot in Bonaire. By growing and planting indigenous trees at sites all around the island, Echo is helping to restore the unique habitats favored by this amazing bird.  In addition to the extensive reforestation effort, Echo also conducts research (such as nest monitoring and roost counts) and rehabilitates injured and illegally captured parrots.

This beautiful parrot lives at the Echo kunuku in a spacious enclosure. It was an illegal pet and can not be released into the wild. Echo cares for it, and others like it.

Echo also cares for a pair of Scarlet McCaws that were illegal pets and can not fend for themselves in the wild.

At Echo’s Kunuku Dos Pos, they also have an indigenous tree nursery, at which members of the public can purchase indigenous trees (which are favored by the Amazon Parrots) to plant on their own property.

The entrance to Echo’s kunuku in Rincon

Echo conducts public tours each Wednesday at 4:30.  Please visit if you are interested in learning more about its important work.

Email – Info@echobonaire.org

Call –  701 1188

A wild Yellow-shouldered Parrot in Rincon, Bonaire

Jun 252017
 

When most people think of “birds” and “Bonaire”, they picture the island’s unofficial mascot – the Caribbean Flamingo.  Bonaire’s flamingos are undoubtedly a thing of beauty and awe, but they are only part of the picture when it comes to Bonaire’s avian life.

A juvenile flamingo, rendered in Black and White

Over 210 species of birds call Bonaire home.  From shore birds to sea birds to land birds, Bonaire is an often-overlooked haven for birders and bird photographers.  It’s our goal to spot and photograph as many of these fliers as possible.

Luckily, we don’t have to leave the house to find beautiful subjects.  Our own yard is a rich source of inspiration.

A bananaquit rests in our garden in the bougainvillea

A Yellow-shouldered Amazon parrot enjoys a snack in our backyard

Bonaire’s shore birds and wading birds can be found throughout the island in the mangroves, salinas, and ocean shores.

Easily identified by its bright red beak, the American oystercatcher, true to its name, enjoys a diet of oysters, clams and mussels.

Steve caught this American oystercatcher as it prepared for take-off

Sharing the shore with the oystercatcher is the common Brown pelican.  Although it seems rather large, the Brown pelican is the smallest of the eight species of pelican.

Brown pelican eating a fish

Approximately thirteen species of Herons and Egrets are found among Bonaire’s shores.

Reddish egret

A Yellow-crowned night heron feasts on a crab

A Green heron rests on a mangrove root

And finally, we’re excited to announce that scientists have discovered a new Bonairean bird species with a wingspan of 60.3 m (197.83 ft)!  We finally managed to photograph it in its native environment.

KLM Airbus A330 bound for Amsterdam

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

What is your favorite bird on Bonaire?

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

 

 

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.