On Saturday we went diving off of a boat. We motored out to Klein Bonaire, a small island that is marine sanctuary and is completly protected by the marine park. This was a very new experience for many of us; we had to get all of our gear on during the ride and once we got there we grabbed a mooring and did the backwards roll technique into the water-this consits of sitting on the edge ad pretty much falling backwards. It was pretty windy and fairly choppy so it was pretty difficult to swim on the surface but once we we underwater it was perfect. The visibility wasn't so good at the beginning but in improved as the dive went on (everyone says that the rainy season does that to the water so it should improve all around over the next few weeks). At Klein I got to see a lot of new things that we haven't seen at our other site we've been going to. We also went deeper than we have before! We were at 54 feet for 55 minutes, but the time goes by so fast. I saw a lot of new fish and tons of new kinds of coral. The purpose of going to this particular site off the island was to learn about diseases and algae and we definitely found a lot of that. Its kind of sad to see the bad shape that some of the reefs are in. There was a lot of dead coral and even some bleaching which is caused by stress from climate changes.Although it was sad to see it was definitely a learning experience!
Sunday was our first day off! It was so nice to be able to relax and sleep in. We all took a trip to the grocery store to buy breakfast food and snacks. Then we spent the rest of the day swimming and snorkeling, laying in the sun, and doing a little homework once it was past tanning time. I saw an octopus for the first time!! It was just a little guy but still really cool. He was all curled up on the bottom and looked like a rock until he swam and all his legs were out, it was really neat!
Monday-back to class. We started our morning off by walking into town to join a group of nature activists in a silent protest/march. The government here is trying to put in 5 new piers to allow for more shipping. A lot of large boats stop here for fuel and to get loaded up with goods from around this area (not only Bonaire) before they head over seas. The problem with the piers is that they're going to go right on top of coral reefs- not only is this terrible of the animals but also tourism is the largest industry here so depleting the wildlife will eventually decrease their tourism economy. These are both things the government is apparently overlooking. So anyway we joined a group of about 50 people, surprisingly most of them were over 40. Some were tourists but mostly residents. There were very few young people besides us students and there were few local Bonairians which I also found surprising. I enjoyed learning about some current events going on here and being part of something important like that.
This week we're finishing up some rescue courses and emergency first response courses. By the end we'll be CPR certified and be able to rescue divers from the bottom and the surface. We're also starting to talk about our independent research projects-more to come on that!
Off to the water and the sun!! :)