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

Jun 032016
 

World Ocean’s Day is June 8th, and this year’s theme is “Healthy oceans, healthy planet”.  It’s been a while since we’ve discussed plastic pollution here on the blog, so in the spirit of World Ocean’s Day 2016, we wanted to reinstate a serial post called Breakup with Plastic, Makeup with the Ocean.

In these short periodic posts, we will provide a tip as to how you can reduce, reuse or recycle your plastic wares.

flyer-top-NoDate

Tip 4 – Eliminate the use of beauty and personal care products containing plastic microbeads.

First, what are microbeads?  Microbeads are tiny plastic balls that are used in some cosmetic exfoliators, body washes, facial washes, scrubs, toothpastes and other products.

Why are microbeads bad?  Microbeads are a major source of plastic pollution in our oceans, lakes and other bodies of water.  Due to their minute size, they are not filtered out of the wastewater at sewage treatment plants. Also, they act as toxin absorbers, causing harm when they are inevitably ingested by marine life.  Eventually these tiny spheres move up the food chain, and we all know what that means for human who consume fish.

How can I determine that my products are microbead free?  By 2017, it will be illegal to manufacture and sell a cosmetic product containing microbeads in the United States.  Until then, or if you live in an area that has not banned microbeads, become a label-reading sleuth.  Look for the ingredients polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene, nylon or polymethlyl methacrylate, especially when purchasing products which claim to exfoliate or deep clean the skin.

Plastic pollution of our oceans may be a HUGE issue, but small changes CAN and DO help.  Please remember that your actions add up.

 

More about World Ocean’s Day 2016

This year World Ocean’s Day is organizing a Better Bag Challenge.  By taking the challenge, you promise not to take any disposable plastic bags for a whole year.  You can share your commitment on social media using the hashtag #BetterBagChallenge.

challenge-box

Jan 272016
 

Last Saturday, January 23rd, Dive Friends Bonaire held its first quarterly cleanup dive of 2016 at Karel’s Pier in downtown Kralendijk.  In total, 2714 items of marine debris were collected by a record-high 135 volunteer divers.

Their next cleanup dive will be held on April 9th.  If you’re on Bonaire during that time, come join the fun.

In between his debris collecting duties, Steve was able to capture a few shots from the dive.

Spotted Eagle Ray

Spotted Eagle Ray

A diver with his debris bag

Steve’s cleanup dive buddy with debris bag

Steve was lucky to spot this seahorse during the dive

Steve was lucky to spot this seahorse during the dive

A diver collecting debris

A diver collecting debris

A French Angelfish inspects the activity

A French Angelfish inspects the activity

A curious position for a Sharptail Eel

A curious position for a Sharptail Eel

A Hogfish with divers behind

A Hogfish with divers in the background

And here is a video by Dive Friends Bonaire.