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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Bonaire Heineken Jazz Festival 2010 Promises Big Artists in a Big Festival

Save the dates of May 27th through 30th, 2010, as this will be the next occasion of the jazz festival on Bonaire.  A variety of musical styles will be presented with bands from Brazil, Cuba, the United States, and The Netherlands in different venues around Bonaire as these internationally known jazz musicians mingle with the best musical talent Bonaire has to offer in this sixth year of the annual event.

As in past years, the festival will kick off at the beautiful and romantic location of Fort Oranje on May 27 with an evening of Jazz and Poetry. Then, on May 28th and 29th, the two main concerts will take place at the Tipsy Seagull at the Plaza Resort. This year’s top attraction will be the world renowned trumpeter, Arturo Sandoval, performing with his seven-piece band. Arturo is originally from Cuba, but now lives in the USA. Also performing will be Manny Moreira from Brazil, BEKU from the United States, Joke Bruijs with Frits Landesberg from The Netherlands, and Henk van Twillert with Tjako van Schie, also from The Netherlands. These performers will be joined by Bonaire’s best local musicians: the Cabaco Trio, the Silver Bullet Steelband, the New Generation Dancers, and Kaña Brabu, offering a combination of varying styles of jazz, all with their own character. For fans who just cannot get enough, jam sessions with many of the musicians will be held at Sense, just across the street from Plaza, starting at 11:30 PM on Friday and Saturday.

The always popular Jazz Brunch takes place on Sunday, May 30th at the Divi Flamingo Resort, where musicians participating in the festival, along with other musicians and singers, will provide a spectacular jam session while guests enjoy a delicious brunch.

As in previous years Heineken is the title sponsor and the main sponsors to date for the event this year are: Plaza Resort, Divi Flamingo Resort, Telbo NV, Breathe-IT, It Rains Fishes, Budget Rent a Car, Maduro & Curiel’s Bank, Sunbelt Realty, Rocargo, Sense, Mega FM, Captain Don’s Habitat and RumRunners, Hotel Rochaline, TIS, Don Andres, HBN Law, Bonaire Affair, TCB, and Addo’s Bookstore.  Additional information about the artists, final program, and ticket sales will be announced soon.  (Source:  Bonaire Jazz Foundation)

Posted by Susan Davis on February 24, 2010 at 9:23am AST
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Bonaire Continues Proactive Efforts in Fight Against Invasive Lionfish

The Pacific lionfish appeared in Bonaire’s waters last fall, and Bonaire’s marine park and tourism sector are continuing the proactive fight to contain the lionfish population.

Lionfish are particularly destructive to Atlantic reef systems, because they are voracious predators, feeding upon the normal juvenile population of shrimp and fish, thus not allowing these species to grow to maturity and reproduce.  Further, the lionfish are prolific reproducers themselves, with a female capable of producing 30,000 eggs, of which 90% are pre-destined also to be female.  Unfortunately, there are no natural predators of this fish in the Caribbean, so their numbers will not be kept in check via natural predation.

The third lionfish captured on Bonaire reefs (late October, 2009) was only 4.6 cm in length.  However, the fish are becoming much larger and one recently captured was measured to be 18.5 cm in length (see image above comparing these two fish). Lionfish can grow up to about 56 cm.  This fast growth means the lionfish are dining well on Bonaire reefs, and, in fact, the stomach contents of all lionfish removed from Bonaire waters are checked--these lionfish are actively feeding upon Bonaire juvenile fish and shrimp populations.  Lionfish hunt 100% of their time.  They do not stop when full, in fact, studies indicate they never are full and will just keep feeding as long as there is a readily available food supply.  Lionfish can begin reproduction when females are only 13 cm, so the population on Bonaire is already at the point of reproducing, and, in fact, reports of juvenile lionfish are beginning to come in again, proving that we now have a second generation of the fish.

But there is good news to share:  The Bonaire National Marine Park rangers are conducting multiple lionfish workshops for those marine park volunteers who are interested in helping to remove the fish.  These workshops focus upon how to safely catch, remove, and store the fish until it can be processed at CIEE, and then tissue samples are sent to REEF.  The lionfish do have venomous spines, covered by a sheath of skin, which can cause excruciating pain, and therefore, the training is mandatory for anyone who wishes to assist with the fish removal.  It should be noted that no one (tourist or resident) has been stung on Bonaire to date, so captures are proceeding safely due to the excellent training by the marine park.  Once volunteers have been trained, they receive regular updates via a web-based database (updated daily) indicating all the reported lionfish so they can either choose a specific target or see which fish have already been removed.  This posse of lionfishers is made up of Bonaire marine park staff, certain volunteers, and those who have attended a training workshop.

Additionally, the marine park has organized several “lionfish roundups.” This weekend, February 20th and 21st, will be “spreadsheet cleanup roundup” to check old reports, unmarked reports, or to collect, mark, or unmark sites in order to have a better overview of the situation.  It’s important to have a trustworthy database, so the lionfishers can go to the correct sites.  During this roundup, eleven regions along Bonaire’s leeward coast have been targeted for checking and, if possible, removal.

Next weekend, February 27th and 28th, the roundup will concentrate on Washington Slagbaai National Park dive sites.  Those participating will go by boat for two or three dives to remove lionfish in that area.  Saturday, March 6th, the roundup will be conducted in the Karpata Reserve and the Playa Frans Reserve areas.  Lastly, the weekend of March 13th and/or 14th, it will be Klein Bonaire’s turn to host the roundup.

The tourism sector is also jumping in to support the marine park’s efforts.  All dive shops on Bonaire are providing information to their visiting divers, along with markers so divers can mark lionfish locations.  These same dive facilities are also providing free tanks to the posse of lionfishers to help the cause.  Captain Don’s Habitat has taken it one step further:  From March 6th through 13th, Habitat will be hosting the “Lionfish Wrangler Week” with credits for each lionfish found and marked and that ultimately is removed from the environment.  The first credit received ($120.00) can be used on any diving fees during the Lionfish Wrangler Week.  Additional credits after the first ($60.00 each) can be used on future Bonaire trips.  During this week, there will be lionfishers on every boat dive to assist with immediate removal of those lionfish found.  Throughout the week, there will be workshops and lectures on behavior and the potential threat the fish poses to Bonaire and the entire Caribbean.

Noted environmentalist, Dee Scarr, is also lending a helping hand by organizing a meeting for those involved with the fish removal in order to talk, exchange ideas, and brainstorm.  The more people who can be actively involved in this endeavor, the more successful it will be.

Those visitors who will spend an extended time on Bonaire, and who wish to help, are welcome to receive training and join the posse.  Contact the Bonaire Marine Park (717-8444) for information on the next workshop.  Many other visitors who only are on Bonaire for a short time want to know what they can do to help.  First and foremost, please do not try to remove the fish yourself.  It can be dangerous!  Further, once a lionfish is spotted, please limit your activity in the immediate area, this also includes limiting photography.  The reason this is important is these fish learn very quickly that divers (and divers’ bubbles, noise, etc.) mean they might be caught, and they will hide very quickly at the first sign of a human.  It has taken up to six dives in one location to remove one fish which had become sensitized to humans.  When marking a lionfish, place the marker in the sand in the general area, but do not place it right on top of the fish.  Keep your movements slow and unthreatening to avoid sensitizing the fish.

Visitors can be sure to always have a marker in their BCD pocket, and to immediately report any sitings to their dive shop or the marine park.  Those who wish to take it a step further can bring down supplies of wine corks (used in making the markers) and deliver them to the marine park or your dive shop (both plastic corks and real corks work just as well).

In keeping with the community spirit that Bonaire has always exhibited, it’s hoped that the potential negative effects of the Pacific lionfish can be contained by a well coordinated effort by the marine park, Bonaire’s tourism sector, and visiting divers. (Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)

Note Update February 22, 2010: On the first roundup last Saturday, ten additional lionfish were removed. (Source:  Bonaire National Marine Park)

Note Update March 1, 2010: On the second roundup on February 27, an additional 11 lionfish were removed from the waters around Washington Slagbaai National Park, bringing the total number of lionfish removed since October to 130. (Source:  Bonaire National Marine Park)

Posted by Susan Davis on February 19, 2010 at 11:47am AST
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dive Friends Bonaire Announces Next Instructor Development Course (IDC)

Dive Friends Bonaire is pleased to announce their next Instructor Development Course (IDC) will begin on June 7th and continue through June 15th, 2010 for those looking to become a professional diver with teaching capabilities. The Instructor Exam conducted by PADI will immediately follow on June 16th and 17th.

Dive Friends will be offering the new E-Learning option for this IDC, which allows candidates to save time and travel expenses by taking advantage of home-study methods.  They then may report to the IDC on the third day (June 9th, 2010), for completion of the program with Dive Friend’s course director.  E-Learning is easy; all candidates must do is login to PADI’s web site at www.padi.com and click on E-Learning.  Enter the dive center’s number, and follow instructions. PADI’s cost for E-Learning is $320.00 per candidate.  Once all candidates are on Bonaire and in sessions together, the new IDC format will focus upon workshops and interaction, while utilizing the new PADI Guide to Teaching.

Concurrent with the IDC course, Dive Friends Bonaire will also offer Emergency First Response (EFR) Instructor, Staff Instructor, and an option for Staff Instructor with an internship at the dive facility.  Costs for these courses are:

· Full IDC (no E-Learning), $1299.00

· E-Learning IDC, $999.00

· Emergency First Response Instructor, $199.00

· Staff Instructor, $599.00

· Staff Instructor with one year’s internship, no charge.

Additionally, for those who would like to attain the professional rating of Instructor, but do not yet have a Divemaster rating, Dive Friends Bonaire offers a Divemaster Internship for $999.00, which can be done prior to the IDC.  All rates are in U.S. Dollars; books and PADI’s fees are additional.

Dive Friends Bonaire can assist with on-island arrangements, such as accommodations or vehicle rental, for those coming to the island for the IDC/IE.  Those interested in participating in the IDC may visit http://www.dive-friends-bonaire.com/idc.html for additional information, or contact Dive Friends Bonaire directly by email by clicking here for pricing and eligibility requirements.

Posted by Susan Davis on February 16, 2010 at 2:47pm AST
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Monday, February 15, 2010

New Bat Species Discovered on Bonaire

A species of bat, the Davy’s Naked Backed Bat (scientific name:  Pteronotus davyi), has been recently found living on Bonaire.  This brings the number of bat species on Bonaire to eight different types.

This bat species was discovered by Fernando Simal, manager of Washington Slagbaai National Park.  This particular species was not known to inhabit Bonaire in the past; it is a small insect-eating, cave-dwelling bat and is found throughout South and Central America, including Trinidad, but not Tobago.  It’s not yet reported on other Antillean islands.

All bats are important to the island’s ecology, as, not only do they consume a multitude of mosquitoes, but they also pollinate fruits and cacti, which then provide food for other species.  Unfortunately, due to development and disturbances of their cave habitats, the numbers of bats on Bonaire are dwindling.  (Source:  Extra Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on February 15, 2010 at 12:15pm AST
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bonaire’s Karnival Season Coming to a Close

One of the major highlights of the Karnival season each year is the Grand Parade, held the weekend just prior to Ash Wednesday.  The parade is held in Rincon on Saturday, followed by a repeat performance in Kralendijk on Sunday.  Images from this year’s Grand Karnival Parade are available on the Bonaire Insider Photo Gallery by clicking here

Each year, the various groups who perform in Karnival come up with new and innovative themes.  And this year’s parade was no exception as colorful and playful costumes paraded by the onlookers.  There’s just a few more days to the Karnival season, so if you haven’t yet enjoyed the festivities, be sure to be in Kralendijk this afternoon!  (Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter, images courtesy of Elly Albers and Evert Bleijenberg)

Posted by Susan Davis on February 14, 2010 at 1:36pm AST
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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Insel Air Offers Promotional Airfare on its Miami-Bonaire Route

Effective immediately, Insel Air has announced a special airfare promotion for its Miami-Bonaire route.  Now through Saturday, June 19, 2010, there’s a special round-trip fare Miami-Bonaire-Miami of only $280.00 per person.

This is an excellent opportunity for a trip to Bonaire, as the normal price for this route is $430.00 per person.  This special fare includes government taxes and fuel charges, however it does not include departure taxes, and it is subject to availability.  This new fare can be booked through travel professionals, Insel Air (phone:  +599 9 737-0444) or via the Insel Air web site by clicking here(Source:  TCB-Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on February 13, 2010 at 1:06pm AST
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Bonaire’s Lora (Parrot) Population on the Rise

There’s good news for Bonaire’s endemic parrot population, as it appears from a recent lora (Papiamentu for parrot) count, that the numbers of this bird are on the rise.  Preliminary results from this year’s annual count show that there are now approximately 800 parrots around Bonaire, although this number can still change due to a more detailed analysis of the data collected.  It’s thought that the increase over previous years’ counts (about 650 to 700 parrots) is due to better protection and education.

This year’s census was the fifteenth count since 1980, and it was organized by Fundashon Salba Nos Lora (Save our Parrots), STINAPA, and DROB (Department of the Environment and Nature).  During this year’s count, dozens of volunteers simultaneously counted the birds in 27 different locations around Bonaire, including parts of Washington Slagbaai National Park.  Censuses from the past two years indicated lower numbers of lora, but these numbers could be affected by heavy rains received on the island during December and January of those years, as the normal behavior of the lora is changed during rainy periods.  This year, rains have been much more sparse, and many lora which normally stay in uninhabited areas of Bonaire are coming in toward neighborhoods in order to find more food.  Therefore, including some of these areas in the census provides a more accurate count.

All lora on Bonaire have been protected since 2002.  That year, any parrots in captivity, more than 620 birds, were registered and provided with an identification band.  Fundashon Salba Nos Lora has had education campaigns running since 2002, and it is hoped that as a result, fewer birds are poached or killed.  Although many Bonaireans are proud of the island’s nature, including the lora, not all are happy with the increased population of this rare parrot. Loras do not differentiate between native fruit-bearing trees in the non-residential areas or between planted fruit trees on a kunuku (farm) or gardens.  But, like all animals, lora are driven by hunger and sometimes the environment simply does not provide enough.  On Bonaire, one reason is that in past times, the island’s trees were felled, including fruit trees that would have provided such food.

To assist with this problem, last year, nearly 130 native fruit-bearing trees were planted in non-residential areas.  As these trees mature, they will provide more food for Bonaire’s bird population, thus giving the lora less of an incentive to come into residential areas and be considered less of a pest due to destruction of crops.  It’s hoped that Bonaire’s special lora can thrive independently and in harmony with the human population of the island. (Source:  Fundashon Salba Nos Lora)

Posted by Susan Davis on February 12, 2010 at 4:45pm AST
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Classical Music Board Announces Upcoming Piano Concerts

The next classical concert will be given by Wim Statius Muller, an 80-year-old pianist from Curacao, on February 12, 2010 at 8:00 PM at Cacique Hall, Plaza Resort.  It’s been 25 years since Mr. Muller last visited and performed on Bonaire.

Mr. Muller will perform compositions by Chopin, as well as Antillean classical music, French, Spanish, African, and American music styles, and the special folkloric dances of danzas, tumbas, and mazurkas.  Additionally, he will perform a variety of his own compositions.  Tickets are FL 35.00 (about $19.66) per person in advance, or FL 40.00 at the door (about $22.50).  Tickets may be purchased in advance at Addo’s Books & Toys, Flamingo Bookstore, or Plaza Resort.  Mr. Muller is generously donating his revenues for this concert to Jong Bonaire for further development of a music program for Bonaire’s youths.

The next concert will be on March 5, 2010, when the American pianist, Marylin Kredel, will perform.  (Source:  Classical Music Board Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on February 10, 2010 at 3:59pm AST
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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bonaire’s Windsurfing Champions are the Subject of a New Documentary--The Children of the Wind

Children of the Wind will tell the story of the young children and teens from Bonaire who’ve journeyed from humble beginnings to international fame through the sport of windsurfing, transforming not only the island, but the face of the sport worldwide.

Bonaire’s youth have been making headlines for many years now, propelled to the very top league of windsurfers.  This new documentary, Children of the Wind, will be shot this spring on Bonaire, and tells these champions’ stories, starting with their first international competition in Merritt Island, Florida, back in 2001, when the Bonaire team brought home twenty awards. This was an unprecedented achievement for any country, much less tiny Bonaire!  Even more remarkable is the island continues to produce world champions in every age category of the Pro Kids competition. This documentary will follow these youth from their modest beginnings to the cover of magazines as well as what they’ve learned in the process. This will be a story of how powerful change can come from children willing and strong enough to persevere through physical discipline--it will be the story of children brave enough to push beyond the perceived limits of their circumstances and offer new hope to their community and those who look up to them.

The photographic crew from Seek Films will shoot on location on Bonaire in May, 2010.  Film development is being planned now and the final documentary will include archival footage, interviews, lifestyle and action scenes, all of which will tell the dynamic story of Bonaire’s young windsurfers.  A promotional trailer is available on YouTube by clicking here. (Source:  Children of the Wind Web Site)

Posted by Susan Davis on February 09, 2010 at 4:42pm AST
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Friday, February 05, 2010

Delta and Continental Add Additional Seasonal Airlift from North America to Bonaire

Continental Airlines and Delta have both recently added additional airlift from North America to Bonaire for the remaining portion of the high season and a portion of the summer season.

Effective February 12, 2010 until April 2, 2010, Continental will operate a second Newark flight on Saturdays (EWR-BON-EWR) in addition to their normal weekly rotation.  Continental flight #1553 will depart Newark at 11:55 PM and arrive on Bonaire the next morning at 5:22 AM.  Continental flight #1556 will then depart Bonaire at 7:00 AM.

Continental will also operate a third Houston flight on Mondays effective March 7, 2010 until March 29, 2010.  Continental flight #1898 will depart Houston at 11:30 PM and arrive on Bonaire the following morning at 6:00 AM.  Continental flight #1899 will then depart Bonaire at 8:30 AM.

Effective February 13 through August 14, Delta will upgrade the 757 (with 183 seats) currently operated on the Bonaire route to a 767 with 262 seats, providing extra capacity each week.

Please note that times will be adjusted in March in conjunction with the Daylight Savings Time change.  (Source:  TCB Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on February 05, 2010 at 3:49pm AST
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