One of the things that we love so much about Bonaire is that most people who come here have an interest in nature and don’t just want to sit around on beaches sipping pina coladas (although there certainly is something to be said for this Caribbean activity too).
During our long stay here this winter (which began in November) we have been constantly heartened to meet people who -- even if they are only staying on Bonaire for a couple weeks -- want to make a difference while they are here for Bonaire’s environment, its animals, and its beautiful reefs.
One non-profit (among too many to mention) that is doing some really cool stuff is Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire (CRFB). This foundation was started in 2012 with the help of an American guy who really loves coral reefs and, according to the CRFB’s website, assisted Bonaire in “its continued efforts to preserve Bonaire’s greatest asset, its coral reefs.”
At the heart of the project are efforts to restore Bonaire’s shallow reef areas that have been damaged by storms, disease, global warming and human activity. The two predominant corals in the shallows are staghorn and elkhorn corals. Both these corals provide critical habitat for fish and invertibrates but are currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In most places in the Caribbean, they have declined by 90 to 95 percent. CRFB employees and volunteers grow and maintain coral nurseries and plant these corals at restoration sites. As a committed above-the-water gardener, it is really amazing and beautiful to see this underwater gardening happening, close to our Salentein underwater backyard. As part of this effort, a number of the dive operations on Bonaire can now certify visitors to help with this restoration.
Ben and Fiona (see photo, above) worked with the awesome people at Gooodive (our favorite dive facility) to get trained to help with restoration efforts. Tina from Gooodive worked with Ben and Fiona over three days -- a mix of classroom learning and hands-on water work -- to get them ready to restore.
Now that they are certified they volunteer as much as possible with CRFB. Fiona is using this opportunity to do an “innovation” project for her high school. In this way she will be able to show to others back in the U.S. one way that people are working together to try to help the world’s coral reefs, many of which are disappearing at a heartbreaking rate.