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Monday, August 31, 2009

Rotary Bonaire Changes Venue for Weekly Meetings

The Rotary Bonaire will change the venue for its weekly meetings starting this Wednesday, September 2, 2009.

Beginning with this upcoming meeting, the Bonaire Rotary Club will hold its weekly luncheon meetings at the Peter Hughes meeting room at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino (above the dive shop on the north end of the property) each Wednesday, from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. The most convenient parking is available at the casino parking lot. Visiting Rotarians are welcome to attend. Dress code is business casual. (Source:  Rotary Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on August 31, 2009 at 2:06pm AST
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Divers Asked to Take Special Care with Corals During Periods of High Seawater Temperatures

On Monday, the Bonaire Marine Park received their first NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Coral Bleach Watch for the season.  This occurs when NOAA satellites detect a “hot spot” in the southern Caribbean of 0.1 degree over the Maximum Monthly Mean. 

When this occurs, it means that the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) is higher than the average for this season. The NOAA Coral Reef Watch program indicates that there is a significant potential for coral bleaching in the Caribbean during 2009. Please note that in the July through October predictions, Bonaire falls in the category of Potential Severe Bleaching.

Remember that bleached corals are still alive and need special protection.  All divers and snorkelers, as well as other users of the park, should stay away from the reef and take all additional measures to reduce stress to the reefs, instead of adding to them.  Reducing reef stress can be done by eliminating contact with the reef, limiting boat bilge residue, and other contaminants.  Be sure buoyancy is good and do not stir up sand when diving which can silt out the reefs.

The marine park does request that divers report bleaching observations as soon as possible.

NOAA’s Caribbean Bleaching Outlook calls for the potential for high thermal stress now through October, 2009, and projections do indicate that bleaching could be significant to be on par with the 2005 bleaching event that the southern Caribbean experienced.  NOAA’s operational Climate Forecast System is now calling for development of an El Niño during 2009-10. Typically, this has the strongest impact in the Caribbean during the second year of the El Niño (2010).  Finally, in light of predictions for a potential of lower than normal precipitation in much of the Caribbean this year, it is not expected for cloud cover to provide relief from the predicted warming.

Our seasonal bleaching outlooks can be found at:  http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/bleachingoutlook/index.html

Current Hot Spot and Degree Heating Week charts and data formatted for HDF and Google Earth can be found at: http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/index.html

Time series graphics for index sites can be found at: http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/current/sst_series_24reefs.html

Those interested may subscribe to automated bleaching alerts at: http://coralreefwatch-satops.noaa.gov/SBA.html

Please report bleaching events (or non-events) at: http://www.reefbase.org/contribute/bleachingreport.aspx

For more information about coral reef bleaching, click here(Source:  Bonaire National Marine Park)

Posted by Susan Davis on August 25, 2009 at 2:10pm AST
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Dive Friends Bonaire Holds Second-Hand Dive Equipment Sale September 1-4, 2009

Each year, Dive Friends Bonaire purchases new dive equipment for its rental gear department and thus can sell the older equipment.  They will hold a large, second-hand dive equipment sale from September 1st through 4th, 2009 at their Dive Friends @ Yellow Submarine facility at the north end of the oceanfront promenade.

Combos will be available for $350.00 each and will include a BCD, regulator, and wetsuit.  If two combos are purchased, a $50.00 discount will be applied.

There will also be booties at $10.00 per pair, open-heel fins at $25.00 per pair, individual BCDs at $125.00 each, regulators at $225.00 each, and wetsuits at $25.00 each.  Dive Friends will also have smaller miscellaneous items available as well as t-shirts.

Those needing dive equipment and who are on island should be sure to stop in.  (Source:  Dive Friends Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on August 24, 2009 at 10:40am AST
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Day in the Life of Dr. Sylvia Earle, Champion of the Oceans, on Bonaire

Dr. Sylvia Earle visited Bonaire this past week to help commemorate the island’s Celebrate Our Planet week and also receive Bonaire’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.  The Bonaire Insider chronicled one day of this amazing woman’s visit.  Images of the day are available on the Bonaire Insider Photo Gallery by clicking here

The Lifetime Achievement Award is certainly deserving, as this is one gutsy lady.  Throughout her career, she has forged many “firsts” in the field of oceanography, but here’s just a few:  Dr. Earle set the women’s depth record of 1250 feet (381 meters) in an open-ocean JIM suit dive, and she also holds the women’s record for a solo dive in a deep submersible (3280 feet, 1000 meters). She was Chief Scientist for NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), while even today, Dr. Earle continues as a consultant to The National Geographic Society.  Her most recent accomplishment was to work with the folks at Google to post the world’s oceans on Google Earth (version 5).

I had the good fortune to spend a day with her during her visit.  Dr. Earle is a petite woman with a modest demeanor, but she’s one powerhouse of a woman when speaking.  Her goal is to get the word out that everyone simply must begin taking better care of the world’s oceans.  Her mantra, “without the blue {oceans}, there is no green {land}” should sound a resounding warning bell for not only divers, but everyone, as the health of the planet’s oceans will directly impact every human being on earth.  We all must be more aware of what we are putting into the oceans, as well as what we are taking out.  She wishes to see less pressure on fish stocks throughout the world and advocates eating less seafood to give fish stocks time to replenish themselves.  In many cases, ten pounds, and sometimes up to 100 pounds, of by-catch (the killing of non-desired species for desired species), are wasted and killed for every pound of food produced.  In recent decades, the demand for seafood has exponentially exploded, and the seas simply cannot withstand the demand and impact anymore.

We began our day by making a dive to Captain Don’s Reef at Klein Bonaire.  Dr. Earle is an excellent diver, making no impact at all on the reef.  She spotted a total of six turtles on this dive, along with a plethora of other marine life--moray eels, grouper, snapper, flounder, hamlets, as well as other invertebrate species (corals, sponges, and mollusks), which are commonly sighted on Bonaire. 

After the dive, there was time for a quick lunch, and then Dr. Earle presented an impromptu seminar about her global mission--to educate the public about the importance of keeping the world’s oceans healthy.  We then viewed her “wish” speech, from earlier this year when Dr. Earle was named a recipient of a TED Prize.  For those not familiar with TED, it’s a small nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design, but since then, its scope has become ever more broad.  The organization chooses three recipients each year and does its utmost to grant them each one wish.  Dr. Earle’s wish is:  “I wish you would use all means at your disposal--films! expeditions! the web! more!--to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.” (View her speech by clicking here, and then click on Watch the Talk.)

Dr. Earle congratulated Bonaire for its past and present efforts in ocean conservation, but urged even yet stronger efforts.  She said that Bonaire has the capacity to be the benchmark for the Caribbean, as well as other regions, in leading the way to healthier reefs.  Even though Bonaire’s reefs are in better condition than many other areas in the region, there are signs of stress.  However, Dr. Earle strongly feels that there is still time to make changes that would allow full recovery.

The day closed with the participants of the morning dive reviewing images with Dr. Earle.  She pointed out signs of healthy areas on the reef, as well as those which are showing stress.  Afterwards, Dr. Earle met champion freediver, Karol Meyer.

Thanks go to Sara Matera and Serge de Groot from Divi Flamingo Beach Resort for hosting the morning dive, and to Jack Chalk at Captain Don’s Habitat for being the property sponsor for Dr. Earle and for providing conferencing facilities for her seminar. (Source:  Bonaire Insider reporter, photo gallery images by Dr. Sylvia Earle and Susan Davis)

Posted by Susan Davis on August 22, 2009 at 1:20pm AST
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Karol Meyer Does It Again--New Records Set, Day After Day

Karol has had a busy week here on Bonaire, where she is continuing to break records right and left on each successive attempt.  Since her first attempt last Saturday when she dove to 84 meters (about 275 feet), Karol has since made two other attempts, each one breaking her own record. 

On her second attempt, Karol hit 87 meters (about 285 feet) and on her third attempt, she hit 93 meters (about 305 feet).  With this dive, Karol currently holds the world third place record in the discipline of variable weight freediving.

Karol tells the Bonaire Insider, “I’m certainly opening the door to even greater depths now, but we must wait first wait for the best conditions.” She and her coach, Patrick Musimu, do fear that Hurricane Bill, although far, far away from Bonaire, could alter sea conditions.  However, Karol is hoping to do another attempt on Saturday, when she hopes to reach 100 meters (about 328 feet) at Klein Bonaire.

Over the next few days, Karol will be conducting a freediving seminar, along with four days of freediving clinics, at Buddy Dive Resort, the host property for the event. Those interested in participating can contact the resort for more information.  To wrap up her time on Bonaire, Karol will do a talk show about Freediving Bonaire on August 26th, 2009 at the Pool Bar at Buddy Dive. (Source:  Karol Meyer)

Posted by Susan Davis on August 20, 2009 at 12:17pm AST
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Film Debut of Bonaire Ta Dushi (Bonaire is Sweet) Will Be Held on Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Hendrik Wuyts, from Scuba Vision Films, is a familiar name in video film productions on Bonaire, and he will premiere his latest film entitled, Bonaire Ta Dushi (Bonaire Is Sweet) on Thursday, August 27th, 2009.  The viewing is open to the public and all are invited.

The films highlights Bonaire in all its glory and beauty and is strengthened with interviews of legendary and respected people of Bonaire:  Kalli De Meyer (Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance), George Cultura (Washington Slagbaai National Park ranger), Maria Koeks (Soldachi Tours Rincon), Gilmond Echbrechts (Turtle Conservation-Field Manager), Jerry Ligon (naturalist), Caren Eckrich (Sea & Discover), Fernando Simal (Washington Slagbaai National Park manager), and Hans Voerman (Outdoor Bonaire).  The film’s mission is to educate those who visit and love Bonaire to better understand the Bonairean way of life.

The DVD is produced in three languages--English, Dutch, and German (the English version will be viewed at the debut), and is available for purchase at all souvenir shops and dive facilities around the island.  It will definitely be a “must” for Bonaire aficionados who collect media about the island.

The debut will take place at Addo’s Bookstore at Kaya Grandi #36 in Kralendijk at 7:00 PM. (Source:  Scuba Vision Films)

Note update August 24, 2009: The Bonaire Insider has just been informed that there will be a change in venue for this premiere.  The new location will be in the conference room at Captain Don’s Habitat at 7:30 PM Thursday evening, August 27, 2009. (Source:  Scuba Vision Films)

Posted by Susan Davis on August 19, 2009 at 9:00am AST
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Free-diver, Karol Meyer, Reaches 84 Meters, Sets New South American Record

In following up on a previous story, Karol Meyer made her first attempt on Saturday to break current records, where she succeeded admirably.

When she attained a depth of 84 meters (about 275 feet), Karol set the new South American record on variable ballast.  Today will be her next record-breaking attempt.  Karol has a support team of scuba divers from Buddy Dive Resort, Walt Stark from Rec Tek Scuba, a hyperbaric doctor, and Aida International judges.  (Source:  DeeperBlue.com)

Posted by Susan Davis on August 17, 2009 at 9:43am AST
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dive Friends Bonaire Awarded Status of Bonaire’s first CoralWatch Dive Operator by PADI ProjectAware

Dive Friends Bonaire is pleased to announce they have been granted the esteemed status of Bonaire’s first CoralWatch dive facility by PADI Project Aware.  PADI’s Project AWARE foundation has partnered with CoralWatch, a non-profit research organization from the University of Queensland, Australia, as well as NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), to involve divers and snorkelers in monitoring coral bleaching on the world’s coral reefs.

The CoralWatch program makes monitoring coral reefs easy. The CoralWatch chart uses a series of colors representing different stages of bleaching and recovery. Just match the color of the coral with the corresponding color on the chart and record the color code along with the type of coral on the data sheet. Data collected from monitoring activities is then entered on-line and analyzed by scientists to answer questions on coral bleaching and recovery patterns, as well as the severity and duration of bleaching events.

Dive and snorkel volunteers on Bonaire make it possible to measure small natural fluctuations in the coloration of healthy corals to immediately identify changes outside of the normal range. With their support, it’s also possible to monitor coral health throughout the year, not just during bleaching events, and help determine factors that influence the island’s coral health.

Registered guests of Dive Friends Bonaire are welcome and encouraged to assist in CoralWatch.  Those interested in participating will receive a free, fifteen-minute orientation about how to monitor the corals as well as information on coral bleaching in general.  A CoralWatch card and slate will be issued to the divers and snorkelers, and they are then eligible to conduct monitoring dives on the house reef of Dive Friends Bonaire, the registered research site for Bonaire. 

Several monitoring levels are available depending upon the interest and proficiency of the diver or snorkeler.  At the simplest level, five random corals can be monitored on any dive on the house reef, by comparing the lightest and darkest colors of the coral to the CoralWatch card, and then registering the results on the slate.  Input is then returned to Dive Friends Bonaire staff for inputting into the database.

To learn more about the CoralWatch program at Dive Friends Bonaire, visit www.dive-friends-bonaire.com/coralwatch.html(Source:  Dive Friends Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on August 13, 2009 at 1:43pm AST
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bonaire’s Next Mountain Bike Race is November 1, 2009

Bonaire Wellness Connexions has recently announced their next mountain bike race of the season, which will held on November 1, 2009.  This race will be a challenge, with many single-tracks and climbing, plus a technical downhill section.  The race starts at the entrance to Sabadeco Terrace and continues through the hills of Seru Largu and Santa Barbara.

Entry fees for men and women are FL 25.00 (USD $15.00), while kids under 18 are FL 10.00 (USD $6.00).  Participants must pre-register prior to the race day at the Bonaire Wellness Connexions headquarters or by email.  No registrations are accepted on the race day. 

The kids’ race will begin at 4:00 PM on Saturday October 31, 2009, and the adults’ race will begin at 7:00 AM on Sunday, November 1, 2009.  The awards ceremony will take place directly after at 10:00 AM.

Drinks stations will be situated throughout the course and at the finish. Water will be provided either in cups or small plastic bags. If a rider becomes distressed, personnel will be on hand to care for him/her.

For additional information, call Bonaire Wellness Connexions at +(599) 717 4241. (Source:  Bonaire Wellness Connexions)

Posted by Susan Davis on August 12, 2009 at 9:05am AST
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Strong Metor Shower is Expected Tonight

The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to put on a good show this week for those willing to get up in the wee hours of the morning and wait patiently for the shooting stars, and Bonaire, with its lack of light pollution, should provide an excellent viewing platform.

In the northern hemisphere, the best time to watch will be between midnight to 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, but late Tuesday night and also Wednesday night could prove fruitful, weather permitting.  The Perseids are always reliable, and sometimes rather spectacular. The only things that puts a damper on the August show are bad weather or bright moonlight. Unfortunately this week, as the Perseids reach their peak tonight and tomorrow, the moon will be high in the sky, outshining the fainter meteors.

The Perseids are bits of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which has laid down several streams of debris, each in a slightly different location, over the centuries as it orbits the sun. Every August, Earth passes through these debris streams, which spread out over time.

Low numbers of Perseids, including some bright fireballs, have already been reported as Earth began entering the stream in late July. Seasoned observers have counted up to 25 per hour already, or nearly one every two minutes.  Most meteors are no bigger than a pea. They vaporize as they enter Earth’s atmosphere, creating bright streaks across the sky.

Astronomers expect up to 200 meteors per hour in short bursts of up to 15 minutes or so. But many of the fainter meteors will simply not be visible due to moonlight, and rates will go down even more for those in urban areas. More likely a typical observer under reasonably dark skies might hope to see a meteor every couple minutes when the bursts come, and fewer during lulls.

The best time to watch is between midnight and dawn Wednesday. Forecasters say the best stretch could come between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. AST.  Some Perseids might be visible late Tuesday night, and Wednesday night into Thursday morning could prove worthwhile, too.

The best location is away from Kralendijk, ideally where there are no lights.  Attempt to find a structure or tree to block the moon.  Then scan as much of the sky as possible. The meteors can appear anywhere, heading in any direction. If you trace their paths backward, they’ll all point to the constellation Perseus.  Seasoned sky-watchers advise using a blanket or lounge chair for comfort, so you can lie back and look up for long periods. Allow at least 15 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness. Then expect meteors to be sporadic: You might see two in a row, or several minutes could go by between shooting stars. (Source:  Yahoo.com)

Posted by Susan Davis on August 11, 2009 at 1:49pm AST
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