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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bonaire’s Annual New Year’s Maskarada Begins at Lt. Governor’s Open House

As is the yearly custom each January first, there will be a presentation by the Maskarada group.

The group will begin at the home of Lt. Governor Thodé, at J.A. Abraham Blvd 76 at 10:00 AM.  After performing here, the group will continue to the Kas di Sosiegu (retirement home).

At 1:00 PM, they will perform in Wilhemina Park and afterwards will continue with the festivities at the home of Ludovico Nicolaas, Mrs. Tecla Piar, Mrs. Petra Thode, at Pension Jeta, at Shon Bubu Thielman’s, before finishing at 6:00 PM at the home of Commissioner Maritsa Silberie.  These presentations are all in the neighborhood of North Salina.

On Sunday, January 4th, the group will visit the neighborhoods of Antriol and Nikiboko.  The final celebration will begin at 9:00 AM at Panaderia Selekta.  (Source:  Island Government)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 30, 2008 at 12:44pm AST
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Pacific Lionfish Continues Spreading Southward in the Caribbean Region

As a followup to a prior story, the invasive Pacific fish, the lionfish, has now been sighted in Belize, the first such sighting in Central America.  As the species spreads southward, the Bonaire National Marine Park is making plans for its arrival on Bonaire.

Although not yet sighted in the Netherlands Antilles or Aruba, it’s only a matter of time before the lionfish makes an appearance in local waters.  Certain research by Mark Albins in the Bahamas indicates that a single lionfish transplanted onto small patch reefs can reduce the recruitment of natives fishes by 80%.

Because of the effect the species may make on Bonaire’s reefs, STINAPA and the Bonaire National Marine Park are making proactive plans for the fish’s arrival.

The lionfish has no natural predators in the local Caribbean waters, which is one reason why it can easily consume a large number of small reef fish.  Therefore, STINAPA is instituting a plan to use the island’s dive guides, who are in the water each day, to immediately notify the marine park when a lionfish is spotted.  When this occurs, Bonaire National Marine Park staff will enter the water at that dive site, and each ranger will be carrying two aquarium-type nets, and their plan will be to catch the fish and thus remove it from the area.  STINAPA does acknowledge that this plan may have to be adjusted as time passes, depending upon the number of sightings reported. 

Lad Akins, from REEF, provides some valuable web site links for lionfish information and reportings of sightings.  He reports that many have already been collaborating on research, education/outreach, early detection/reporting/rapid response and control, and many lessons have been learned from the past few years of intense work in the Bahamas, Bermuda, the US East Coast and the northern Caribbean.

For those of interested in staying current on lionfish distribution and new reports, please consider signing up for the USGS early warning notification system.  All data that is received is forwarded into this master database and any new records of lionfish or other non-native species are broadcast to those signed up for the early warning system. You can access the site at by clicking here, and just follow the links to subscribe.  For each of the records listed in the lionfish distribution map, additional information is accessed by clicking on the map dot.  Records in this system are well vetted and QA generally requires an image or very strong evidence of occurrence before inclusion.

Another site of interest may be the lionfish progression map showing the spread of this invasion by year, available by clicking here.  This map is updated regularly though not daily.

Sightings of lionfish and other non-native species can be reported via either the REEF Exotic Species Reporting page or the USGS NAS System. (Source:  NACRI and STINAPA (Bonaire National Marine Park))

Note Update January 15, 2009: The invasive Lionfish are coming further and further south and are now reported from the Providence/San Andres area (Colombian islands close to Nicaragua) at about the same latitude as the ABC islands. This sighting has now also been included on the USGS map of all sightings.

Lionfish reaching the Colombian islands are attributed to larvae coming in from the Greater Antilles, i.e. Jamaica, Hispañola and Puerto Rico, where they are now well established. The spread so far fits with theories on how drifting larvae spread throughout the region and with satellite studies on the distribution of released drifters.

Note that the fish in this report appears to be a grown adult, so it must have been swimming around there for at least a few years before now finally being spotted. And these are islands popular with divers. We might already have them in our islands but just not know it. Keep a look out and if one is sited in our waters, try to take a picture, and make note of depth, dive site, and any other locational notes, then contact the Bonaire National Marine Park at 717-8444.

Posted by Susan Davis on December 24, 2008 at 10:00am AST
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Delta’s New Flight from New York’s JFK Airport to Bonaire Took to the Skies Last Saturday

A festive ribbon-cutting ceremony at the departure gate launched the new Delta weekly non-stop flight from New York’s JFK to/from Bonaire last Saturday.  On hand for the ribbon cutting was a VIP delegation from Bonaire including Commissioner Anthony Nicolaas, Director of Tourism Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes and BONHATA President Sara Matera. Also there were many repeat visitors to Bonaire, who actively joined in the festivities and took advantage of having their photo taken behind the official Inaugural Flight banner. 

“We are delighted to have a second Delta non-stop flight coming to Bonaire. With the northeast corridor being our largest market to Bonaire from the US, it is very appropriate that our visitors from this area have the convenience of a non-stop flight from JFK,” said Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, Director of Tourism Corporation Bonaire. 

“It is gratifying that the demand for travel to Bonaire is so high that Delta would put on an additional flight,” said Commissioner Nicolaas. “This is particularly notable during a time when many airlines are reducing their service to the Caribbean.”

Delta flight #553 departs John F. Kennedy International Airport Saturdays at 10:35 AM arriving into Bonaire’s Flamingo International Airport at 4:25 PM.  The return flight #554 departs Bonaire Saturdays at 5:15 PM arriving into New York JFK at 9:05 PM.  Delta is utilizing a 154-seat, 737-800 Boeing aircraft with 16 first class seats and 138 economy seats for these flights.  (Source:  TCB-NY)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 23, 2008 at 2:14pm AST
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Delta Also Offers Attractive Winter Season Fares to Bonaire

As a followup to our story from yesterday, Delta, in addition to Continental Airlines, is also offering extremely attractive airfares during January and February, 2009.

Their new service from New York’s JFK, which launches tomorrow, is listed at $515.00 (plus taxes), while their Atlanta-Bonaire flights are $668.00 (plus taxes). Thru-fares from Delta’s other mainland gateways show similar savings; a round-trip fare from Boston via New York/JFK is currently showing at $569.00 (plus taxes).  According to the Delta web site, these rates will be valid through February, 2009.

Seats at these rates are capacity-controlled, so those wishing to take advantage of these fares should make reservations as soon as possible; other restrictions may apply.  For additional information or to book flights, visit the Delta web site by clicking here. (Source:  Delta Web Site

Posted by Susan Davis on December 19, 2008 at 11:20am AST
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Continental Airlines Offers Low Rates on Flights to Bonaire from Houston and Newark

Continental Airlines is currently offering extremely low rates for the winter season on their non-stop flights from either Houston or Newark when booking through their web site.

Sample round-trip fares from Houston to Bonaire show $398.00 (plus taxes) and $548.00 (plus taxes) from Newark to Bonaire.  Add-on fares from additional Continental gateways also offer low rates (sampling Denver indicated a round-trip fare of $548.00 (plus taxes)).

Seats at these rates are capacity controlled, so those wishing to take advantage should make their plans as soon as possible, and other restrictions may apply.  According to the Continental web site, these rates will be valid through February, 2009.  A new rate schedule appears to take effect in March, when rates of $398.00 per person (plus taxes) are available from Newark to Bonaire.

For additional information or to book flights, visit the Continental Airlines web site by clicking here(Source:  Continental Airlines Web Site)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 18, 2008 at 11:32am AST
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kas di Arte Hosts End-of-the-Year Exhibit

Henk Roozendaal, a noted painter from Bonaire, will be exhibiting some of his recent paintings at Kas Di Arte beginning Sunday, December 21st, 2008.

The exhibit will run from December 21st through December 31st, 2008 at Kas di Arte, located on the oceanfront promenade.  The theme of the paintings is the Indians of Bonaire, but Henk will also exhibit some of his other recent works.

Admission is free, and the exhibit will be open from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM daily. (Source:  Kas di Arte)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 17, 2008 at 11:47am AST
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Accords are Signed at Kingdom Day’s Round Table Conference in Curacao

Yesterday, Kingdom Day, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende was in Curacao to attend the Round Table Conference, where he signed an agreement with the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba on the new political structure of the islands.

The final details were ironed out at this summit, and guidelines are now established on the powers of the Dutch government regarding the administration of law in the Netherlands Antilles. In the 2007 round of autonomy negotiations, the Dutch government agreed to write off the largest part of the Antillean debt in exchange for having a say in the islands’ legal system and finances. The islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten will become autonomous territories, while Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius will become Dutch municipalities. In 2009, the last conditions of dissolution will be discussed and finalized. (Source:  Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 16, 2008 at 7:11am AST
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mountain Bike Tour of Washington-Slagbaai Park is December 21, 2008

Bonaire Wellness Connexions is hosting a mountain bike tour of Washington-Slagbaai Park at 7:30 AM on December 21st, 2008.

This tour is for bicycle riders of all levels of experience.  Pre-registration is recommended, which can be done prior to December 20th at the offices of Bonaire Wellness Connexions in Kralendijk. 

On the day of the tour, participants should plan to meet at the park entrance no later than 7:30 AM.  Entry fee is FL 15.00 per person (about USD $ 8.43) and includes a drink and fruit.  For additional information, call +599 717 4241 or +599 785 0767.  (Source:  Bonaire Wellness Connexions)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 13, 2008 at 12:31pm AST
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Opening of Dutch Regional Service Center Celebrates with Free Concert

The new office of the Dutch Regional Service Center will officially open its doors on Bonaire on Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 at 4:30 PM, when State Secretary Ank Bijleveld-Schouten cuts the ribbon.  The center will be located on Kaya Internationaal, in the APNA Building.  To celebrate with all those on Bonaire, there will be a free concert at 7:00 PM in Wilhelmina Park presented by the Dutch singer, Hind, and the Happy Band of Bonaire. 

From the 1st of January, 2009, the center will coordinate all the future activities in regard to Bonaire’s new political status change, and it will work with the local government to create the necessary laws to effect the upcoming status.  The office will be initially working with the departments of education, public health, and infrastructure.

State Secretary Bijleveld has specifically asked Dutch singer Hind to come to Bonaire to give a special show to all inhabitants of the island.  In 2003, Hind was one of the semi-finalists in the first edition of Idols.  In 2004, Hind received the honor of being named the Best New Artist in Holland.  The repertoire will be varied and the Happy Band of Bonaire, also playing, will be much enjoyed with their salsa and meringue music during the concert.

All are welcome.  For additional information, contact Marianne Maldonado of the Information Service of the Insular Territory of Bonaire at 786-0864 (when on Bonaire).  (Source:  Island Government)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 12, 2008 at 11:07am AST
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wounded Warrior Certification Trip to Bonaire Wins Three Emmy Awards

In a rare sweep, broadcast coverage of DEMA’s 2007 scuba certification trip for the Wounded Warriors, held at Captain Don’s Habitat, won three regional Emmy Awards during the presentation ceremonies held on Saturday, December 6, 2008. 

For the Broadcast Program competition, in the “Human Interest – News” category, reporter Jay Cashmere and cameraman Tom Special from WPTV, NBC’s West Palm Beach affiliate station, won an Emmy from among 9 nominees.  Reporter Willard Shepard and cameraman John Lang from WTVJ, NBC’s Miami affiliate station, won an Emmy in the “Feature News Report – Light Feature” category from among 10 nominees.  Further, WPTV’s Tom Special won an Emmy in the “Photographer – News” category in the Individual Achievement competition. 

“We are excited that this wonderful event has been recognized. Both news teams are to be congratulated for their ability to capture the warriors’ strength of spirit and passion for life, said Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, Director of Tourism for Bonaire. “The warriors inspired us all with their enthusiasm for learning to dive, and their belief that if they could learn to scuba dive, they could do anything.”

Jack Chalk, General Manager for Captain Don’s Habitat added, “We have been honored to host the event since its inception and every year look forward to welcoming a new group of Warriors.  As a veteran myself, I am humbled to witness the sacrifice and courage that these Wounded Warriors and their loved ones exhibit each time I see them.  I would like to thank and congratulate WPTV and WTVJ and especially Jay, Tom, Willard, and John for what these two news programs did to further the cause and support of our men and women in uniform.”

A number of entities on Bonaire came together to make the wounded veterans’ trip a reality. In addition to Captain Don’s Habitat providing accommodations and diving; thanks go to Bencho Car Rental, Bonaire Tours & Vacations, Budget Car Rental, and the Jack Chalk family for providing transportation and sightseeing; Adams Unlimited, BonaireTalk.com, Buenos Aires Cafe, KFC, Papaya Moon Cantina, Paradise Coffee, Patagonia Argentinean Restaurant, RE/MAX Paradise Homes, and Rum Runners Restaurant for providing meals or evening events; Jewel of Bonaire for providing gift certificates for shopping; the Bikers Bonaire and Tourist Corporation Bonaire.  Capturing all of the moments of the Wounded Warriors on film was resident photographer Susan Davis.

To view WPTV’s Emmy Award® winning broadcast coverage of the event, click here. To view WTVJ’s Emmy Award® winning broadcast coverage of the event, click here.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) is a professional service organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of television.  It recognizes excellence in television with the coveted Emmy® Award for News & Documentary, Sports, Daytime Entertainment, Daytime Creative Arts & Entertainment, Public & Community Service, Technology & Engineering, and Business & Financial Reporting.  Excellence in Primetime programming and international programming is recognized by its affiliate, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.  Regional Emmy® Awards are given in 19 regions across the United States including the annual Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards for television markets in the entire State of Florida, Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles and New Orleans, Lousiana, Mobile, Alabama, Thomasville, Georgia and Puerto Rico.  To view the full Suncoast Regional Emmy® Awards list of winners, visit the web site by clicking here(Source:  TCB-NY)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 10, 2008 at 1:15pm AST
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