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.

Nov 162015
 

“If current rates of temperature rise continue, the ocean will become too warm for coral reefs by 2050.”  source, Living Blue Planet Report 2015, WWF

A Healthy Fijian Reef

A Healthy Fijian Reef

For those of us that spend considerable time diving the world’s oceans & reefs, this prediction is depressing in the extreme.  Yet it is only one consequence of our ongoing negligence when it comes to the management of our most precious asset on Earth.

Our oceans are under assault from a variety of stressors, including plastic pollution, overfishing and unsustainable tourism.  Many (if not most) of these threats are man-made.  It’s time we took a serious look at how we can undo the damage caused by our own drive to commoditize every square inch of our seas.

As a diver and conservationist, I was already aware of the gravity of these issues.  And still, I was left shocked after reading WWF’s Living Blue Planet Report.  The good news is that there is much we can do to change course and restore the health of our oceans.  Change starts locally, and it starts with you.  Even if you don’t dive, sail, swim, surf or otherwise enjoy watersports, your daily living and well-being are tied to our oceans in almost unimaginable ways.  Please take the time to read the report and learn about what you can do to help protect 75% of our planet.

Namena Marine Reserve, Fiji

Namena Marine Reserve, Fiji

 

 

 

 

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?