Last week we started to learn how to do fish surveys underwater. We basically lay out a measuring tape and swim along it and count every fish we see can record the species. We submit our data to an or organization- Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reefs Assessment (AGRRA). They look at the status of coral reefs and how they are (hopefully) improving over time. This may sound easy but is quite difficult to swim, count and remember all the different fish names at once-no to mention no hit any other divers or the reef. We went to two new dive sites called 18 Palms and Andrea 2. The dive sites here all have fairly strange names. For example we saw one this weekend with a big rock stair case down to the water called 1000 steps..it only had 72 steps. We thought maybe with all of our gear on it felt like 1000 steps? Although I am getting very comfortable with the dive site we go to pretty much every day, called Yellow Sub right in my back yard, its nice to see new ones too. They all look so different, with different coral cover,s different fish densities and different amounts of disease and algae growth.
Friday night was one of the girls birthday here. We did some exploring downtown and found a great bar to dance at! It was a fun, pretty late, night out. When we got back a few of us went swimming. Here, in the waster there are very tiny organisms called bioluminscents. You can't see them except for at night when you wave your arms and feet in the water they light up like neon dots! Its so cool!! Not much is known about them since the are so small and simple but they are really cool-imagine tiny fireflies underwater!
On Sunday we took a tour around the island! We started with the south side, came back home for lunch and then went to the north. Here my attempt at a virtual tour for you:
This is a building site that lost funding and has been shut down. This is a very common thing to happen in Bonaire. The government is trying to expand the population here; however there is no concern for then environment when building. They create all of these sites, clear the property, build with cement and don't look at what the environmental impacts are. Kind of sad :(
Salt mines! Huge piles of salt that we drove by, and they said these piles get much much larger sometimes. A conveyor belt runs from here, over the road to the other side where ships can come and dock and pick up salt.
Slave huts built during the last 20 years of slavery on the island. Before this the slaves had no where to live-no one knows how they did it in such a harsh environment, so hot, dry and no fresh water.
Kite surfing is very popular here.
Washed up sea fans on a beach.
A pretty beach with few waves. Not much sad around here all of the beaches are covered in dead washed up pieces of coral.
Catie, Juli, Me, Ashley and pretty water!
A "beach" on the most southern wart of the island. This is the first place the wind and current hit Bonaire and it splits both ways around the island. This results in very large waves, lots of wind and tons of trash! There was so much plastic in all forms here. It was really sad to see all the garbage.
In the background you cane sort of see a wind turbine. This was the first one built in Bonaire and it was a test to see if it was a good idea. They decided that this would be a very practical way to generate energy. They put in 12 turbines in another part of the island and this generates all of the electricity for the island! I though this was great because in the U.S wind farms contain hundreds of turbines for little energy.
Washed up dead coral-with a plastic bottle.
We arrived at Lac Bay, "The Place". Windsurfing capital of the world.
There were so many windsurfers out! This is an ideal place especially for beginners. For as far as you can see the water is shallow and sandy so if you fall off its not deep and very easy to get back on. We all want to give it a try after seeing little kids racing around! I think my brother Nick would be awesome at it!
Boat turned into a bar!
Dive site called 1000 Steps. Int the upper left you can sort of see some cave type structures in the rock. This is from when the water level was this high and crashing against the rock.
So many lizard and iguanas here!
And abandoned marine biology lab. This lab lost funding about 20 years ago. The building are all still standing. Kind of sad to see something so great for Bonaire to shut down because a loss of money.
These tiles are made of dead washed up Acropora Cervicornis "Satghorn" coral. they cut it up into circles. A really cool way to make use of all of the rubble.
The "Tourist Tree"-fat sunburned and healing
We stopped at a new local bar-pretty much in the middle of no where. There was living music and dancing, so fun!
A great way to point out the bathroom!
The last spot was a place where we could look over the whole island. We could see all of the cost and big building near our house too! It was amazing to think we went around the whole country in one day!
The island tour was a great way to learn about the history and culture on Bonaire. Such a valuable experience.
On Monday I got my first sunburn :( sorry Mom...We went on a bird watching tour around Lac Bay. We went with a guide named Jerry who knew so much about birds and plants. It was pretty interesting but lasted a very long time. The best part was seeing flamingos! They are so pretty and funny looking at the same time. I learned that flamingos are actually gray until they are about 2 years old they get their color from what they eat. So zoos are having a problem with their flamingos turning gray unless they keep them on their natural diets.
Well off to work on the beginning stages of my independent research project. I think I'm going to look at the progress of artificial structures-like sunken tires, engines, mooring block and reefs that were made last semester.