Lionfish hunt course
Lionfish have been spotted in the Caribbean in 2004, since then it has proliferated and are harming the local species (70+ including fishes, invertebrate, shrimps) by praying on them.
They reproduce at a very fast pace and have almost no predators.
To avoid the disappearance of the variety of the marine life here, humans can be the top of the food chain and hunt them and help keeping the balance of the ecosystem.
Today, I had my training with Corinda at the Pietermaai dive centre and caught that very big lionfish. Part of the training is to prepare the fish in avoiding the 18 poisonous spines.
Got the camping car
We’ll be driving around in this.
It’s quite big, I hope it will fit all the roads we would like to take.
And our first evening on the beach and an ουζο, just next to Corinth.
On holiday… Again…
Life is so hard!
We have to take a plane. Again.
Today we handle the husbandry aspect of the restoration process. Linda starts by cutting some of the coral that are grown enough.
Barbara and I then tie the new bits of coral with filaments and hang them back in the tree. With proper care and conditions, the new fragments will grow by 1cm per month. Outside a nursery condition, the growth is much slower and estimated at 1cm per year.
On our way back, I spot a moray eel under the rock.
In the afternoon, we will implant some corals back to initiate a new reef. But before that, we make a quick detour to see a seahorse.
After Linda has selected some of the coral that are fit to be implanted, Barbara and I start preparing the rock very accurately on the chosen spot to fit the coral.
Once the coral is stable by itself on the set area, we will fix it firmly with an epoxy resin to ensure a firm attachment that it is not getting displaced by the current or by anything else.
Linda checks every single coral have been properly placed and the work we’ve done is thorough.
The new implementation site is marked for reference. Thanks a lot for this great experience, I will share it and participate as much as I can.
Eden Beach & Coral Restoration training
Starting my Coral Restoration specialty with Linda (Wanna
Dive) at the Eden Beach.
We start with a bit of snorkeling around the deck, there are a lot of different fishes around here, and they’re not scared. It’s almost like we could cuddle with them.
The coral trees are just a few meters off the shore at around 4 meters deep. Before getting there, I spotted few blennies (I love those guys) so couldn’t resist a quick picture.
The trees require to be cleaned with brushes and pads, and some remove some unwanted fire coral in order to leave the nutriments for the Staghorn and Elkhorn corals that re grown here. It’s quite a work, in about an hour I manage to clean approximately one third of a tree as it requires delicate and thorough cleaning.
On our way back, a scorpionfish hiding under a rock caught my eye.
We left the beach as the sun was setting.
The mangrove in Bonaire is part of the protected area and it is formally restricted to enter it without a guide. The ecosystem here is so fragile that any disturbance can be fatal and without proper explanation and guidance, you can cause a lot of destruction by ignorance.
Today I got to visit the mangrove in a canoe. I was quite interested to find out how trees can grow in salted water. The Bonaire mangrove has three different types of tree, but the one that we see in the bay are the red mangrove tree.
The mangrove has three main roles:
- It’s a giant nursery where all sort of species come to lay eggs and have their progeny to grow in a more protected environment.
- It filters the water coming from the land and stops the dirt to get into the sea.
- It protects the coast from the waves and possible tsunamis.
The channels are mostly natural and are there to allow the water to circulate with the twice daily tides. It’s really noticeable when you swim in one of them and you can feel that you have to make quite an effort and you can just drift your way back.
There are not only fishes but also all sorts of birds, the most visible one being the flamingos, but two types of heron nest here as well.
The trip to
Klein Bonaire is very short and easy, there is two water taxis that propose
daily crossing. We chose to go with Epic Water taxi for two reasons: the boat
is much smaller and less crowded and arrives 15 minutes on Klein Bonaire.
We have as well decided to go today as we knew there weren’t any cruise ship mooring on Bonaire; a lot of the people cruising go to Klein Bonaire, and the No Name Beach is not big.
We had a clear explanation of what is allowed and what not to do, especially in regard to the coral reef. It really needs to be protected as we can see how many has died around here.
The snorkelling is great. We found a very diverse and abundant marine life around here.
But there is a sad reality: the coral here is not doing well at all, and sand beaches like this that may attract too many tourists can suffer a lot. One of the things that kill them is the sunscreen. If you use any type that contains oxybenzone or octinoxate (and sadly all sort of other component), they get diluted in the water and will kill the corals rapidly. One of the best ways to protect yourselves from the sun is to use UV protective clothing, there are some now that goes up to SPF 50.
Diving on the East coast
No doubt, one
of my best dives so far in the Caribbean. I would put the East coast of Bonaire
just before Ost punt in Curaçao.
The coral and vegetation are still in very good conditions and the layout of the reef protecting the immense lac Bay definitely makes it THE dive site not to miss when coming here.
A lot of people would prefer the shore dives, for those I would say that if you have to make an exception it’s that one with East Coast diving (http://www.bonaireeastcoastdiving.com/ ). The semi rigid boat is small, but its arrangement is really well optimized. Let me try to convince you:
- I get seasick: most of the navigation to the dive sites are quite short, mostly within the bay which is really shallow so the boat has to go slow (the windsurfers are much faster), there is one bumpy bit when getting out of the bay but it is approached even slower; the remaining time on open sea is around 5-10 minutes.
- I don’t like crowded parties: good news, the boat is small, so no more than 10 divers.
- Briefing are useless to me: we heard more about marine life and facts about the nature, the actual dive profile bit is kept to its strict minimum. The organisation needs a bit of time because it is an unusual boat.
- Gearing up takes forever: the organisation on the boat is very precise, once you’re on it, everything has been well thought in advance and there isn’t any lost time.
- I don’t like jumping in the water: getting in the water is quite simple, it’s a rollback with almost military precision; but from the inflated side, it’s not high at all.
- It’s too difficult to come back on board: here is a bit of magic! I never saw that sort of setup, where a bit of the inflated side can be removed, and a ladder is attached. By the nature of that type of boats, it’s floor level above water is not as high as regular boats. As well the ladder is not on an axis and is firmly fixed, avoiding the wobbly assembly.
Even if you’re really experimented shore diver and you’re used to long surface swim, I would not recommend trying to reach the dive sites from the beach. It’s quite a long way and the waves and the current are making it a real challenge.
But you HAVE to go there, it’s nothing like I’ve seen so far. The variety in the flora and fauna that’s beyond hope.
I’ve seen during my two dives: turtles (lost count), 5 eagle rays, a reef shark, several moray eels, a lobster, a barracuda, lionfishes, and whatever other regular fishes you’ll find in the Caribbean (angelfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, snapper, durgon, trumpetfish, trunkfish, grouper, etc..).
Fred and Martin are handling the whole operation really tidy and keep the whole thing very friendly. Thank you, guys!