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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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