Category Archives: Community Service

Trans World Radio Underwater Mural is Beautiful Once Again

Trans World Radio renovates its famous underwater mural on Bonaire.

Trans World Radio (TWR) has recently completed the renovation of their famous underwater mural, first painted twenty years ago in 1998.  After many years of Bonaire’s strong sunlight, the mural had become faded and lackluster.  Today, it is back to its former glory, and even more appropriate with sea life that is found here on Bonaire.


The first underwater mural, from 1998.

The original plan, way back in 1997, was to have world-famous mural artist, Robert Wyland, paint one of his “whaling walls” on the premises of Bonaire’s Trans World Radio. Although discussions looked initially positive, Robert Wyland was already booked for so many murals, that it would be years before he could do one on Bonaire.  So, TWR looked for another option.

Trans World Radio's first underwater mural on Bonaire, from 1998.Instead, Paul and Joellen Gallo created an underwater mural as a gift to Trans World Radio and the people of Bonaire.  The scene included sea life from around the world, and, in hindsight, seemed to be weirdly prophetic, as it appeared to foretell the arrival of the invasive Pacific Lionfish, since it was included on the original mural (lower left).

Staff from Trans World Radio also got in on the action, helping mural creators Paul and Joellen. Some even had to overcome their fear of heights in order to paint their assigned area.

Once completed, the mural needed something more, and so, to connect the beauty of the underwater world with Trans World Radio’s purpose for being on Bonaire, an appropriate Bible verse was added.

Are the fishes coming back? Transitioning to a new mural in 2017.

About six weeks ago, suddenly scaffolding appeared, and the wall was whitewashed, hiding the now-faded original mural.  A little boy was walking by with his teacher and asked, “Are the fishes coming back?”

In answer to that question, it is a resounding, “Yes, and, oh, so much more!” Over the past two months, and similar to what happened back in 1998 when the first mural was painted, cars were slowing down to observe what was happening at the wall of the TWR studio. The mural of reef fish accompanied by a Bible verse had been a landmark on Bonaire for so long, and many stopped to watch the wall come back to vivid color and life.

The second underwater mural, 2017.

Rita Carswell and Jeannie Villacorte are the masterminds behind the newest mural. They are professional mural painters and worked tirelessly in Bonaire’s summer sun on TWR’s new mural.

Preliminary work began back home in the United States.

The preparation took Rita and Jeannie more than two weeks of work, even before the actual painting started. First, they took images of Bonaire’s coral reef and oceanic life. They looked at photos and picked some beautiful and colorful fish that can be viewed when diving or snorkeling on Bonaire.

Next, they put the pictures in a computer program, enlarged them, and composed them into a pleasing montage.  The montage was then overlaid with a grid pattern and each grid square was assigned a number, fifty in total.

Each square, with a piece of the image, was then printed on a special film in black and white. All those films were put into an overhead projector and projected on a wall in 4×4′ sections, while the images were traced onto paper, a process which took Rita and Jeannie two days.

Up close and personal with one of the mural painters, 2017 edition of the Trans World Radio underwater mural.Finally, the preliminary work was done, and the papers were put in order, rolled up, and accompanied the ladies to Bonaire. Once here, they unrolled the images and traced over all the black lines with charcoal. Each sheet of paper was taped on the wall, section by section, and traced over it with pencils. Then on the wall, they used permanent markers to make the charcoal impressions indelible, and, finally, painting could commence.

Painting can finally begin.

Paintings and drawings evolve. Slowly the painting develops and comes to life. First, Rita and Jeannie stuck to their preliminary drawings, but as the painting developed, they could add in their own creativity, using shadows and highlights to bring the sea animals to life.

Mural painters Rita and Jeannie say:

“When TWR asked us to do this, we did not think about snorkeling because painting the mural is already a blessing. However, when we went snorkeling and actually saw the fish we are painting, it was extraordinary! Working at the roundabout is also fun. People from Bonaire are very much involved. They wave and honk. So, now, we feel we are also contributing to the whole community!”

Trans World Radio's second underwater mural on Bonaire, under construction in 2017.

The fishes are back!

After weeks of hard work, the fishes are back, along with myriad other examples of sea life found on Bonaire. Current Trans World Radio director, Bernard Oosterhoff, had this to add about the new mural:

“The new mural will mark a new phase for TWR; after four years of hard work we are increasing the power of the radio masts located at the salt pans and this will double the reach of the transmitter. With the upgraded transmitter, we will be able to reach hundred million people living in Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, and North and Central Brazil. This is such a milestone that we want to celebrate. The new mural is already a beautiful visual marker of this new era.”

— Bernard Oosterhoff

Take time to stop and view the mural.

The mural is now completed and quite beautiful. When next you visit Bonaire, you’ll pass it by the traffic rotary in Hato. Be sure to pull off the side of the road to spend a few moments enjoying this wonderful Bonaire landmark. There can be no argument that truly one can “See the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep.”

Trans World Radio has renovated their underwater mural on Bonaire.

(Source:  Trans World Radio)

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. 


Quick Response on Bonaire Averts Potential Environmental Calamity

Excellent cooperation and fast mobilization on Bonaire has helped to avoid environmental problems after tar globules from Trinidad arrive on Bonaire.

As reported last week, two weeks ago, Bonaire started seeing globules of tar arrive on the windward eastern coastline, after traveling downcurrent from Trinidad and an oil spill from their Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

Today, after two weeks of intensive work, we have good news to report that the east coast is returning to normal.

The entire Bonaire community–including nature organizations, government, private sector, and private citizens–came together in a massive cleanup effort, which has helped tremendously with dealing with the potential negative ramifications of the Trinidad oil spill. As of now, the most ecologically valuable areas do not appear to have been negatively impacted or have seen only minimal impact.

150 volunteers work together.

Last Saturday, over 150 volunteers worked ceaselessly along Bonaire’s east coast beaches at various locations to insure that all is safe and clean and remove any oil which had washed up on Bonaire’s shore, including a number of places near Washington Slagbaai National Park, Lagun, Washikemba, Sorobon, Willemstoren and Markultura. Oil that had washed up was collected and, where possible, even scraped off the rocks.


Safety materials were provided to all volunteers by Bonaire’s island and federal governments, while STINAPA organized the volunteers for the different locations. The Fire and Police Departments assisted by delivering materials and food (donated by Bonaire Food Group and its supermarkets), and the volunteers did the rest!

It was an awesome effort, and today we are happy to report that Bonaire’s beaches on the east coast are now clean and safe, with no new oil washing ashore in several days. Due to the organized clean-ups that began on Saturday, May 27th, 2017, it can be said that the sandy areas are clean. Unfortunately, it is not possible to remove all oil residue from the rocks and stones. The beaches are receiving continued monitoring.

Join STINAPA’s Junior Rangers at Lagun tomorrow morning for an additional cleanup.

Because it has been observed that there is still oil washing ashore at Lagun, there will be another cleanup tomorrow at this location by STINAPA’s Junior Rangers, who adopted this beach years ago as their beach to keep clean on a regular basis.

The reason the oil is still present at Lagun is because oil that was washed into the bay is still coming ashore with seaweed. If you wish to help out, join the Junior Rangers tomorrow morning at Lagun.  Protective gear will be provided, including gloves, boots, and overalls. If you still have protective gear from the cleanups of last week, please bring these with you. STINAPA and the Junior Rangers thank you for any assistance.

Seabirds are recuperating.

Red-footed Booby, recuperating from Trinidad oil spill.

Image courtesy of Elly Albers

Eight seabirds (Red-footed Boobies and Brown Boobies) were found still alive, but covered in oil. These were brought to Elly Albers at the Mangrove Info Center for rehabilitation, as she has experience in helping seabirds return to health. Two were very sick and did not live, but Elly is happy to announce that the remaining six seabirds are healthy, clean and stable.

The birds required multiple cleanings using Dawn dish-washing liquid, as the tar was not easy to remove. However, they are finishing their recoveries, and Elly hopes they can be released again soon.

Thanks go to many entities on Bonaire for the great coordination and fast mobilization:

  • Bonaire’s Governments
  • STCB
  • STINAPA Junior Rangers
  • Selibon
  • The Dutch army
  • Bonaire’s Fire Department
  • Bonaire’s Police Department
  • Ministry of I&M
  • Bonaire Food Group
  • van den Tweel Supermarket
  • Warehouse
  • Kooyman
  • The Mangrove Info Center
  • Elly Albers
  • Rentofun
  • Budget Car Rental
  • Bonaire Hydrotest and Maintenance
  • And, of course, the many hundreds of private citizens who volunteered!

(Source:  STINAPA, The Mangrove Info Center)



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. 





Please Help Nolly, a Stranded Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

Sea turtle strandings on Bonaire are rare.


An Olive Ridley Sea Turtle was found stranded at Bonaire’s southern point.

Please help save Nolly, a stranded sea turtleOn the morning of February 8, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) staff received a call on the hotline. Nolly, a local divemaster, had found a stranded Olive Ridley turtle on the east coast of Bonaire, close to the Willemstoren Lighthouse.

After a first assessment, it became clear that the turtle, which was immediately named after its rescuer by STCB volunteers, is missing her front left flipper and has a deep wound on her left side – possibly caused by the stranding.

Rehabilitation facilities for stranded sea turtles are limited.

As Bonaire is a small island and fortunately strandings are rare, there are no permanent rehabilitation facilities. Therefore, STCB needs to raise money to help with the costs of setting up an assessment tank for “Nolly,” and for all the associated costs, such as x-rays, medication and nutrition.

Sadly, in quite a large percentage of the time, a stranded sea turtle cannot be saved, even with much more specialized services than STCB can offer.

Donations are needed to help defray costs.

Your donation will be used for:

  • Setting up an assessment tank with pump,
  • X-rays,
  • Veterinary costs,
  • Medication,
  • Nutrition.

If STCB raises more than what’s needed to help “Nolly,” the extra donations will also go towards saving Bonaire’s endangered sea turtles.

How you can help.

Visit STCB’s crowdfunding page.  On this site, you can donate whatever amount you are able. No amount is too small.  “Nolly” thanks you, along with everyone at STCB and those of us here on Bonaire.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire is a non-governmental research and conservation organization that has been protecting Bonaire’s sea turtles since 1991.

(Source:  Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire)


Note Update February 14, 2017:

Sadly, STCB reports that Nolly, the Olive Ridley sea turtle that stranded on Bonaire last Wednesday, died suddenly on Monday. Thanks to your amazing support, STCB staff and volunteers were able to do everything possible to give her a chance of survival; but Nolly didn’t make it back to the sea.

Due to the generousity of many of Bonaire’s visitors, an incredible $1,605 was donated for Nolly.  Approximately fifty-five percent of the money raised was used to care for Nolly: donations were spent on veterinary costs, medication, the assessment tank, nutrition, and manpower.

With the remaining donations, STCB will design an exhibit at their office so that visitors can learn more about sea turtle strandings on Bonaire, and Nolly’s situation can help educate about stranded sea turtles.





There’s a New Green Initiative on Bonaire, Except It’s Blue!

Bonaire strives to be at the forefront of green technology, as it is well known on the island that our nature is a precious natural resource.  For many years, the plastic refuse from bottled water has been a detriment, filling up the landfill with trash which will take centuries to bio-degrade.  Many recycle plastic waste, but that is costly on a small island.  Now there is a new initiative that will remove the plastic waste of bottled water from Bonaire’s waste management and recycling efforts.  The Blue Bottle Project is beginning.

bluebottle1Last week saw the introduction of this new, “green” project as a number of waterpoints are being opened around the island as part of a larger project. These waterpoints will be located at bars, resorts, dive shops, and restaurants, and they give the user the possibility to fill up–for free–their Blue Bottles with drinking water with the best water quality. 

This is the kick-off for a bigger, more inspiring, project to create awareness by visitors and residents to use more tap water and dramatically decrease the use of plastic bottles. Referencing the collaboration of several local organizations and companies acting together as stakeholders so that all benefit from the goals, project manager Rob van Holstein calls the project a PRE-cycling-project and stated:

“We don’t want to act after the crime is done, but we want to take action before the plastic bottle drops on the beach.”

bluebottle2So how will it work?  The Blue Bottle is specially designed for use in the Caribbean, utilizing a vacuum insulated stainless steel bottle (20 fluid ounce/0.6 litre) which has a soft coated, non-drip cool body and will keep drinks cool for at least 12 hours. Even fully filled, it will float when accidentally dropped in the ocean, so recovery is easy.  At night you can use it on the porch or balcony as a cup and it will keep drinks frosty cool the whole night. The bottle cap is made of a “green” BPA-free plastic and the bottle is 100% recyclable. 

Upon arrival on Bonaire, visitors can purchase the Blue Bottle at the airport or cruise terminal for just $10.00.  It will also be available at waterpoints and other locations for $15.00, so there is a savings to jump on board when you first arrive. Waterpoints will be identified by easy-to-see posters.  At restaurants and bars, table markers will inform patrons of the free drinking water project.  All the information will be in English, Dutch and Spanish.

So be sure to be on the lookout and purchase your Blue Bottle when next arriving by plane or via cruise ship.

(Source:  The Blue Bottle Project)




Bonaire Has a New Firestation at Flamingo Airport

firestation_July_2016_009Last Saturday, Bonaire’s Fire Department held an interesting and informative Open House at their just opened fire station at Flamingo Airport.  Many persons visited throughout the day to learn more what Bonaire’s fire team does as well as fire safety in general.

The fire station was relocated to the new location, which provides quicker access to all areas of Flamingo Airport’s runway so that a fast response can be made in the event of an emergency.

The Fire Department, along with their colleagues at Bonaire’s Police Department, are the first responders in all sorts of emergencies, in addition to fires.  If there is a traffic accident with injuries, the Fire Department might need to quickly get a victim out of a vehicle and stabilized for transport to the hospital.  This past Saturday, the men and women of Bonaire’s fire team gave an excellent demonstration on how this is done–but thankfully the live “victim” was able to get up and walk away after being removed from the vehicle on a backboard.  It’s nice to know that these firefighters can work quickly as a team when seconds might count.


firestation_July_2016_005The fire engines were out and available for people to inspect.  The kids who attended had a great time climbing aboard, or having their pictures taken in full fire gear.

Another demonstration instructed the public on how to handle fires.  If the fire is small, the use of a fire extinguisher can be used and the proper way to use one was illustrated by the firefighters, and the public then had opportunities practice putting out fires.


Bonaire’s firefighters have top-notch training, equipment, and knowledge.  It’s nice to know that the island can provide excellent emergency services if they are ever needed.

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)






Next Quarterly Underwater Cleanup is April 9th, With a Special Guest!

dive-friendsThis Saturday, April 9th, Dive Friends Bonaire is hosting another quarterly clean up dive.  Everyone and anyone is invited to come by and help keep Bonaire blue and beautiful.  This event will provide to be especially interested, as Dive Friends will have a celebrity guest volunteer, Mr. Fabien Cousteau!

Check in for volunteers will begin at 9:45 AM at the Yellow Sub location, with a briefing for all volunteers at 10:00  AM.  Please don’t forget your certification cards (if they are not already on file at Dive Friends) and BMP tags.  The focus for this clean up dive will be Te Amo Beach.

Those planning to dive should bring their dive knife or shears, as it is hoped to collect as much fishing line as possible.  Contact Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire for more information about their turtle shaped line collectors.

Those who do not dive are also welcome as assistance is always needed to help with a shoreline clean-up and to log the items removed from the water for PADI Project AWARE Dive Against Debris.  The counting and logging will be conducted at Te Amo Beach.

At 6:00 PM, Dive Friends will be hosting a potluck BBQ for all the volunteers at their Hamlet Oasis location.  It is potluck, so please bring a snack, side-dish or dessert to share and Dive Friends will provide the main course and one beverage.

For additional information, call Dive Friends Bonaire at 717-2929.

See more upcoming events on Bonaire.

(Source:  Dive Friends Bonaire)


Enjoy a Fun Day at Krusada’s Open House on April 2nd, 2016

krusada_1This Saturday, Krusada, Bonaire’s rehabilitation center, will host an Open House with truly enjoyable events for the entire Bonaire community, be they residents or visitors.

From 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM on Saturday, April 2nd, 2016, head out to Kaminda Lagun 191 to spend a bit of time at the organization’s annual open house.

There will be guided tours of the facility in Dutch, English, Papiamentu, and Spanish, and information about the special projects that Krusada provides to the Bonaire community.  One of their most notable efforts is the growing of organic produce, and their new store will be officially opened this weekend, making it easier than ever to find great local, organically grown, produce.

krusada_2There will be local food tasting, and activities for kids as well.  And anyone is welcome to join in the fun with some beach volleyball in the sand court!

For additional information, contact Kees Jan de Kruijf at 700-6658.  (Source:  Krusada Famia di Restorashon)



CIEE Bonaire Hosts REEF Fish ID Expert in a Four-Series “Fishinar”

reef_fish_seminarsStarting on Monday evening, March 7th, and then continuing on the three following Mondays in March (March 14th, 21st, and 28th), CIEE Bonaire will host expert fish ID-er, Kim White.  The series of informative sessions are free and one can attend all or any of the evenings.

The initial part of each evening will be dedicated to general reef fish identification and behavior, and these sessions will include an introduction to REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation), basic fish identification techniques, tools, and terminology.

After this initial session, each evening will be devoted to learning fish, in fact, 50 fish will be covered in the first three sessions, with a special Bonaire fish session on March 28th.

As always, the CIEE lecture series are free of charge and open to anyone with an interest.  They will be held at their headquarters at Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot #26 in Kralendijk. (Source:  CIEE)


Join in on the 14th Annual Special Olympics Walk-a-Thon

special_olympicsOn Sunday, March 6th, 2016, there is a special treat for those on Bonaire when the popular annual event, the Special Olympics Walk-a-Thon, occurs.  This year’s event will be the 14th consecutive year that everyone gathers to help raise funds to send Bonaire’s athletes to the Special Olympics Games.

The route begins at 5:00 AM at the White Slave Huts in the south, and will end at FKPD in Rincon.  The distance for walking is 30 kilometers, although there is no obligation to complete the entire route.  The route can be walked, run, or cycled.  As in past years, there will be some healthy snacks and water stops every 5 kilometers/3 miles along the route.

Entry to participate is $15.00 per person and includes an event t-shirt and breakfast at the end in Rincon.  Tickets are available from Special Olympics board members or coaches of the Bonaire team.  T-shirt pickup is Friday, March 4th from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, or Saturday, March 5th, from 10:00 to 4:00 PM at El Mundo Restaurant on Kaya Grandi.

Spend that Sunday morning enjoying a cool walk and Bonaire’s sunrise, and also help out a good cause!

Check out other Bonaire events on the Calendar of Events.  (Source:  Special Olympics Bonaire)


Classical Music Board Presents Free Concert on Sunday, January 31, 2016

20160129-ConcertBonaire’s Classical Music Board will present a free concert on Sunday, January 31, 2016 at 2:30 PM.

The concert will be held at Cacique Hall at Plaza Resort Bonaire.

This matinee performance will feature vocal and piano with sax, and Renee Ockeloen and Olga Cat will be singing, and Caroline de Jong will be on sax while Hans Faassen is on piano.

Entry is free, but this is a fund-raising effort for Bonaire’s Animal Shelter and the Classical Music Board, so donations for these good causes will be happily accepted.

There will be complimentary coffee, tea and water.  Come and enjoy Bonaire’s finest musicians!  (Source:  Classical Music Board Bonaire)


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