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Dutch Sea Research Ship to Visit Bonaire in January 2018.

The Royal NIOZ (the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research) is an institute of NWO (The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) and has been working in cooperation with Utrecht University in the European Netherlands since 2016. NWO has recently announced that the NIOZ sea research vessel, the RV Pelagia, will commence a seven-month research voyage in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, as well as in the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Bay of Biscay.

Over 100 scientists on board the RV Pelagia.

Over 100 scientists will be conducting and executing nearly 40 different projects during the seven-month voyage. The vessel will depart from Texel, in the European Netherlands on December 11, 2017.

Research studies to be conducted in the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.

The expedition will commence in the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao), where the vessel will remain during the month of January 2018. Plans call for studies in geochemistry, geology, seabirds, and of course, coral reefs, in the seas surrounding the three islands.

After its research in the ABC islands is complete, the vessel will continue on to the Dutch sister islands of Sint Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius.

The voyage’s mission.

It is hoped that this research voyage will shed new light on the relationship between all the components and factors in the sea which are inter-related. This is especially important as the oceans are changing rapidly, mainly caused by human intervention.

Current threats to the world’s oceans.

Human interventions, which can be threats to fragile marine ecosystems, include:

  • climate change
  • burgeoning world population
  • over-fishing
  • agriculture

High diversity in the Dutch Caribbean.

Bonaire's mangrove forests provide safe habitat for juvenile fish.All six of the Dutch Caribbean islands and the Saba Bank are home to a rich tropical biodiversity. They harbor high-biodiversity coral reefs, sponge-dominated reefs, seagrass, and benthic macroalgae-dominated areas, lagoons, shallow inland bays, and mangroves.

The area is home to and a migratory stopover for species such as sharks, whales, sea turtles, rays, and dolphins, as well as many seabirds and more than 350 species of fish.

About the RV Pelagia.

The research vessel, RV Pelagia

Image courtesy of NIOZ.

RV Pelagia was initially built in 1991 but received an overhaul in 2010.  It is the flagship vessel of NIOZ. With an overall length of 216 feet/66 meters, it is a versatile and stable vessel extremely suited for research in either Bonaire’s coastal seas or adjoining open ocean.

The Pelagia has two dry labs and a wet lab and may host up to nine laboratory containers. Her eleven-member crew is highly skilled in the handling of equipment and moorings.

Track the RV Pelagia during the voyage.

About NIOZ in the Dutch Caribbean

NIOZ has been active in the Dutch Caribbean since 1957 with a range of research projects, working with local partner institutes.  Current projects include:

  • Projects studying shifts in tropical coral reef communities and the functioning of coral reef ecosystems in a changing environment, including a long-time series on Bonaire and Curacao.
  • Projects related to the development of seagrass meadows, benthic macroalgae, and mangrove forest habitats.
  • Culturing tropical foraminifera to determine the relationship between environmental conditions and carbonate chemistry.

(Source:  Daily Herald, NIOZ)

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Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 



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