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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Do Divers Impact Reefs--A New Scientific Study Gives Insight

Earlier this month, a group of past and present CIEE Bonaire staff, interns, and students published a research paper titled, “The effect of recreational SCUBA divers on the structural complexity and benthic assemblage of a Caribbean coral reef” in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation. For many of the group of interns and students, the paper is their first peer-reviewed scientific publication, a major step in the path to becoming a scientist. CIEE Bonaire is very pleased to have been able to offer this opportunity to these first-time authors.


Guided dives have been shown to reduce diver impacts

The goal of this research project was to examine the specific effects that divers have on the benthic organisms (hard corals, soft corals, sponges, etc.) that make up tropical reefs. It has been known for quite some time that divers break, dislodge, and abrade benthic organisms. However, it is less understood how divers might affect the structural complexity of reefs and the relative abundance of different benthic organisms. The research project examined these two aspects through a series of underwater surveys conducted at areas that are heavily and lightly trafficked by SCUBA divers.


Benthic survey team

The results indicate that divers reduce the structural complexity of reefs (make them flatter), which is alarming because much of what makes coral reefs so diverse is their complexity. Additionally, in areas of high diving traffic, there was a shift from a reef dominated by hard corals to one dominated by sponges, soft corals, and rubble. This could be problematic for the future of corals because hard corals make up the structure on which coral reefs are built. The results of the paper indicate that more needs to be done to educate SCUBA divers on how to minimize their effect. This is crucial for island nations like Bonaire that rely on having healthy reefs to attract SCUBA tourism.

For those who would like to learn more, the scientific paper is available in PDF format by clicking here(Source:  CIEE Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 08, 2015 at 3:19pm AST
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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn Launches Monthly Lionfish Removal Trips to Klein Bonaire

As most visiting divers to Bonaire already know, a battle against the highly invasive Pacific Lionfish has been waged for several years now.  Bonaire’s lionfish hunters have done an excellent job of removing these predatory fish from the waters.  Klein Bonaire, with only boat access, has proved to be more difficult, and so Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn has just launched monthly lionfish removal boat dives to help alleviate this problem on Klein Bonaire’s reefs.

These special removal dives are for certified lionfish hunters only (each hunter may bring one “spotter” as well)and will take place on the first Saturday of each month at 9:30 AM. The divers need to provide their own tanks.

Please note that only Bonaire residents with their own E.L.F. (Eliminate LionFish) from STINAPA may join the hunt.  Cost to cover expenses is $10.00 per person, and there is a 6 person minimum and a 12-person maximum for each trip.  It’s the desire of the crew at Carib Inn that these efforts help to keep Bonaire’s reefs healthy by eliminating as many lionfish as possible.

Upcoming lionfish removal dives are Saturday, November 7th, 2015 at 9:30 AM and Saturday, December 5th, 2015 at 9:30 AM.

Email info@caribinn.com to reserve space.  Dates are also posted on their web site at www.caribinn.com.  And lionfish on Bonaire are never wasted, so be sure to check out Lionfish Recipes for after the dive!  (Source:  Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 07, 2015 at 11:40am AST
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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

CIEE Offers Opportunity to Learn About Bonaire’s Seafaring Past

In olden days, many men on Bonaire supported their families by taking to the sea.  In fact, Bonaire seamen were duly noted for their abilities to handle boats in any type of conditions.  Even components of Bonaire’s flag recognize its men’s abilities on the seas of the world as there is a black ring with the four points of the navigation-compass.

Today, sadly many of these sailing traditions are not being carried forward, as our modern-day conveniences do not mandate the same innate knowledge of the seas or of boat-building.  However, there is currently one effort being carried forth on Bonaire to keep that tradition alive–-the renovation of the sea-cargo sailing vessel, Stormvogel.

CIEE will provide an informative presentation this Thursday, October 8th, 2015 from 7:00 to 8:00 PM on the Stormvogel. The talk will be given by Johnny Craane and Patrick Holian and will be about Bonaire’s rich boat-building past, the history of Stormvogel, and the community effort to save Stormvogel, the last sailing cargo boat of the ABC Islands.

As always, CIEE’s presentations are free to anyone who wishes to attend, and the talk will be given at their offices at Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot #26. (Source:  CIEE and Bonaire Insider Reporter)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 06, 2015 at 1:32pm AST
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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Attend Bonaire’s Pink Zumba for Breast Cancer Awareness

October is the designated “pink” month, as it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Bonaire joins the rest of the world in raising awareness for this terrible disease, which can affect 1 in 8 women in the western world, by offering a free, Pink Zumba on October 24th, 2015.

Anyone and everyone is welcome to attend this free Zumba class.  The dress code is, of course, pink, and the fun will begin at 7:00 PM at El Mundo Restaurant.

Bonaire’s Pink Zumba is offered by Dance, Fun, Fitness in cooperation with Prinses Wilhelmina Fond and CancerFunds Bonaire.  No need to pre-register, just show up in pink. (Source:  Dance Fun Fitness)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 01, 2015 at 11:38am AST
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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Coco Beach Opens October 1st, 2015

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Coco Beach, a new beach bar and restaurant, is rising from the ashes of the old Sunset Beach Hotel.

The new bar and eatery is scheduled to open tomorrow, October 1st, 2015, just in time to also celebrate this year’s Regatta, which will take place at Coco Beach.

Coco Beach will be open seven day s a week, from 9:00 AM until 11:00 PM, and it will offer a variety of lunch, dinner, and snack options, as well as fresh-made cocktails, ice-cold beers, and your favorite mixed drinks.  It’s a great place to watch Bonaire’s fabulous sunsets, with your toes in the sand and your favorite beverage in hand.  Enjoy!

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)

Posted by Susan Davis on September 30, 2015 at 11:28am AST
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bonaire Designates 15 New Official Monuments on Monument Day

Although many of Bonaire’s visitors come for the island’s well known watersports, there is a history to the island as well, which is often overlooked.  In recent years, the Bonaire Monument Foundation has held an annual event each September, Monument Day, during which many of Bonaire’s historic buildings have been designated as monuments.

This year’s event on Sunday, September 27th gave Bonaire fifteen new official monuments.  Many of these historic edifices have been restored and now house governmental or private business entities, or still private homes, but their structures can provide an interesting glimpse into life on Bonaire in earlier centuries.

The majority of these monuments are in Kralendijk and can be easily viewed via a self-guided walking tour, lasting about two hours and it’s an enjoyable way to mix shopping in town with a bit of history.

View some of these newly designated monuments by clicking here, many of which offer beautiful examples of Bonaire’s neoclassical architecture.  There is also a map which is helpful in planning your walk to see these edifices yourself on your next trip into Kralendijk.  (Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)

Posted by Susan Davis on September 29, 2015 at 1:47pm AST
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Friday, September 25, 2015

It’s Almost Time for Regatta–Bonaire’s Annual Sailing Event

For almost 50 years, Bonaire has continued to celebrate its sailing tradition by hosting the International Sailing Regatta, held each year in October. Sailors in all classes come to the island to race each other in various venues with even a category for 5- to 10-year old sailors. This age bracket competes in small craft and windsurfing events.

There are parties, races and dancing, as well as music, food, and drink. The entire island takes on a festive atmosphere and visitors from all over the world are welcome to participate as crew or spectators.

Starting in 2015, the event is going back to its roots–that is, the festivities will take place at Coco Beach, formerly known as Sunset Beach.  Sailing races will take place from the area in front of Coco Beach, providing onlookers with a great atmosphere in which to spend the day enjoying the event.  All day long there will be live music and entertainment from local and international artists, and a food court, a kids playground, sports and games.

The sailing races are held in between the main island and Klein Bonaire or on the north side of Klein Bonaire. For most of the sea -going sailing yachts, there will be two shorter courses in the morning and a longer race in the afternoon. For small categories like the Optimist and Sunfish, there will be races in between the islands.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a day, or two, or three, on the beach with family and friends.  See this year’s event schedule, as well as information on bands and festivities, on InfoBonaire’s Regatta page(Source:  Regatta 2015 Website)

Posted by Susan Davis on September 25, 2015 at 3:27pm AST
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bonaire’s Monument Day is Sunday, September 27, 2015

In connection with Bonaire’s annual Monument Day, this Sunday, September 27, 2015, the island government and the Bonaire Monuments Foundation will jointly organize an event.

This year’s program will consist of the opening of a number of monuments in the historical inner parts of Kralendijk.  The tour begins in Wilhelmina Park and will end in the Parke Tului Domcassé, beginning at 10:00 AM and ending at 1:00 PM.

To register for the program in advance, visit the offices of SKAL at Kaya Jan N.E. Craane #34.  (Source:  Public Entity of Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on September 23, 2015 at 10:12am AST
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Upcoming Lunar Eclipse is Visible From Bonaire

There will be a total lunar eclipse on September 27 and 28, 2015.  This eclipse will be visible in totality from Bonaire and the surrounding region.

The partial phase of the eclipse will begin on September 27th at 9:07 PM (21:07) and will end at 00:27 AM (00:27) on the 28th. Totality will occur on Bonaire at 10:11 PM (22:11) and will end at 11:23 PM (23:23), with the greatest eclipse occurring at 10:48 PM (22:48).

Bonaire’s normally clear skies should hopefully provide a great opportunity to view this infrequent lunar event.  It also provides a unique opportunity for those who enjoy photography to capture something unusual.  A total lunar eclipse occurs when the entire moon passes through the Earth’s umbral shadow. During the total phase (totality), the moon turns a vibrant red color. These are easy to see as well, with the unaided eye and shows just why these special moons are called Blood Moons.

A lunar eclipse begins as a small notch slowly appears along one edge of the moon. During the next hour, the moon gradually dips deeper into Earth’s dark umbral shadow. If the eclipse is a total one, the last remaining minutes of the partial phases can be quite dramatic. The crescent of the moon grows thinner as darkness propagates through a night sky now deprived of moonlight. If you’re away from the lights of town, the Milky Way can become bright and beautiful as the total phase begins.

No matter what kind of camera you own, there are a variety of techniques that you can use to photograph a lunar eclipse: wide-angle, telephoto, multiple exposure and star trail. Nikon’s “Mr. Eclipse,” Fred Espenak, offers a variety of tips for photographing eclipses.  For those using Nikon camera systems, view his tips for the upcoming lunar eclipse by clicking here, or visit his web site for more general tips by clicking here(Source:  Meteo and Nikon)

Posted by Susan Davis on September 22, 2015 at 1:22pm AST
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Monday, September 21, 2015

The Heat is On--Divers Can Help Monitor Coral Bleaching

STINAPA and the Bonaire National Marine Park are asking divers for their assistance and cooperation during the next months, as seawater temperatures heat up.  NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch has just added the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) to their Coral Bleaching Warning areas. 

On Bonaire, divers are asked to report any suspected bleaching by submitting an image to STINAPA (marinepark@stinapa.org) along with the following information:
◾Dive Site
◾Depth
◾Severity of bleaching
◾Date
◾Anything else that might be relevant.

Divers are further asked to be especially careful during this time to avoid any contact with the reef, as the corals can be extremely vulnerable.  Be sure to control buoyancy and avoid touching corals.

When corals are under stress, often caused by rising sea surface temperatures, the symbiotic relationship between the corals and their zooxanthellae (unicellular algae) breaks down. The zooxanthellae, which give pigments to the corals, slowly leave causing the coral to become paler and paler. In severe bleaching events, all of the zooxanthellae leave and the coral becomes white, thus the term bleaching. On coral reefs, zooxanthellae contribute food in the form of sugars to their coral. When corals bleach, they are not getting enough energy. Coral may live for several weeks in this condition, but if the stressor doesn’t go away (i.e., if the sea surface temperature doesn’t decrease), then the coral will slowly starve to death. If however, the stressor does go away, the zooxanthellae may repopulate the corals and the corals may survive. It is thought, however, that corals are more prone to disease shortly after recovering from a bleaching event.


Caption:  Comparison of healthy (left), paling (middle), and bleached (right) brain coral, Colpophyllia natans.
Image: Mote Marine Laboratory

Bleaching is often a result of elevated sea surface temperatures but may also be caused by chemical pollutants, high light levels, exposure to air, or other stressors. An extremely severe coral bleaching event occurred in the coral triangle in the Pacific Ocean in 1998 due to high sea surface temperatures. Similarly, the Caribbean suffered an extreme bleaching event in 2005, where some reefs lost as many as 30% of their shallow corals.


Caption:  Caution: If the coral is complete white and the surface looks damaged or abraded, then it’s probably parrotfish biting instead of bleaching.

To help provide more information into how a bleaching event can affect Bonaire’s corals, Caren Eckrich (a biologist with STINAPA), will be giving a lecture titled, “Coral Bleaching, Disease and Parrotfish Biting – What’s What on the Reef.” In her presentation, she will discuss a short history of recent bleaching events, the causes and biology of bleaching, and how to identify bleaching. She will discuss other disturbances such as parrotfish biting, disease, etc. that are often confused with bleaching and end with a short description of STINAPA’s monitoring protocol.  This free, public presentation will take place at CIEE’s headquarters at Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot #26 on Thursday, September 24th, 2015 from 7:00 to 8:00 PM.

(Sources:  STINAPA, CIEE)

Posted by Susan Davis on September 21, 2015 at 3:13pm AST
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