Category Archives: Watersports

Mating Seahorse Videos–A Once in a Lifetime Experience?

Is shooting video of mating seahorses a once-in-a-lifetime experience?

Not so, if you are on Bonaire!

Seahorses are high on the bucket list of most Bonaire diving visitors, right along with frogfish, turtles, rays, and other elusive sea creatures. Many are happy to be shown a seahorse by their dive guides, but they are truly delighted when they stumble across one on their own, as the creatures are usually very camouflaged.

So, you can imagine the happiness when your dive takes you to an area of the reef where there are two seahorses! Eureka, you have hit pay dirt! But wait, it gets better, way better, when the two seahorses start the dance of love right before your eyes.

Coming across two mating seahorses.

mating seahorses, image by Ron WilseyThis is exactly what occurred to Ron and Nancy Wilsey back in early November, 2016, at a dive site on the southern leeward side (location has been intentionally omitted to protect the privacy of these seahorses). Nancy first located a yellow seahorse, and, while Ron set up to film it, she found a second seahorse in the area.

A few days later they returned to see if they could find the couple once again, and found the seahorses involved in extreme courtship! The female wrapped her tail around the male and appeared to open his pouch.

Just a few moments later, they met in mid-water, where they went belly-to-belly and eggs were exchanged.

An amazing experience, and one which you’d think could never be repeated again! But not so for Ron and Nancy! Later in the month, friends of theirs shared their find of seahorses at another southern dive site, so off Ron and Nancy went to see if they could find them.

Finding a second set of amorous seahorses.

But this time, it was Ron who found the yellow seahorse. Not to be outdone, Nancy continued to look for a second seahorse, knowing that many times there are two in close proximity. Sure enough, a second, rust-colored seahorse was found. After a wonderful vacation, Ron and Nancy returned to their El Paso, Illinois (USA) home for the holidays, with many memories of wonderful dives on Bonaire.

Returning to find yet more mating seahorses.

But the story doesn’t end there. The Wilseys own a vacation home on Bonaire, which allowed them to return in early 2017 for an extended visit, getting them away from the cold and snow of winter in Illinois.

They quickly set out to check on their two sets of loving seahorses, and unfortunately, the first set had relocated and was not to be found anywhere.

However, Ron and Nancy were delighted to find their second set of seahorses was still in the same area, and, on February 19, 2017, engaged once again in some lovemaking which Ron was able to catch on video!

The chances of seeing this happen once in your lifetime are small. But Ron and Nancy seem to swim upon lots of sex in the sea; we might need to start calling them the Seahorse Whisperers.

But it still doesn’t end there. Yet again, Bonaire’s Seahorse Whisperers said a final farewell to the loving couple with this video of “almost” mating behavior, filmed a few weeks before their departure from Bonaire. At the risk of being anthropomorphic, we can only imagine their communications: “Honey, can we just cuddle today?”

With so much procreation activity happening under the sea, it’s comforting to know there will be many baby seahorses populating the reefs around Bonaire.

Ron and Nancy Wilsey, long-time repeat visitors to Bonaire.

This most recent visit was Ron and Nancy Wilsey’s 29th visit to Bonaire, and they are two-time Bonaire ambassadors. On this season’s visit, Ron and Nancy logged 120 dives together, and they completed a landmark dive, their 830th dive just here on Bonaire.

“You can be accepted and blend with nature if you are patient and approach on nature’s terms.”

— Ron Wilsey

The two work as a team–Nancy is normally scouting for critters, while Ron is filming. Ron uses a Canon G16 with a Fantasea housing. The excellent zoom capability allows Ron to keep his distance so as to not interrupt behaviors or alarm the creatures, but still provide fantastic close-up viewing. With any underwater photography or videography, excellent diving buoyancy skills are necessary.

So, are you going to find your own seahorse couple on your next Bonaire vacation? Sound in on the comment section below!

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter, image and videos by Ron and Nancy Wilsey, used with permission)

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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 on The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog.


 

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Bonaire’s Salt Pier Temporarily Closed for Diving Due to Scheduled Repairs

Salt Pier is temporarily closed for diving during repairs.

Cargill has announced that repairs are scheduled to be made to Bonaire’s Salt Pier.  These repairs will be conducted between April 3 and May 15, 2017.

Bonaire's Salt Pier on the premises of CargillRestrictions on activity at the pier during renovations.

During this time-frame, no ships will be docked at the pier, but also, for their own safety, divers will not be allowed under the pier while renovations are taking place.

Find other shore diving options.

Divers need not despair, there are plenty of other shore diving locations along the leeward shore.  Check out the dive and snorkel site map.

(Source:  Cargill)

 


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 on The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog.


 

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Carib Inn Expands Retail Store

Carib Inn augments their selection of quality dive equipment on Bonaire with the expansion of their retail store.

The retail store at Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn has always been well known on Bonaire for great prices on quality dive and snorkel equipment.  The store is entirely staffed by PADI instructors, insuring that shoppers will receive a perfect fit or advice on best equipment for their own personal needs.

Knocking out walls leads to more space and display areas.

Now, Carib Inn has expanded their retail store, so there is even more opportunity to have great dive gear stocked on Bonaire at good prices.  After spending quite some time on calculating how to expand the store, it was finally decided to tear down a wall.  It took a few days of planning, and a few evenings of work, so as not disrupt daily services, but it is done and is looking spiffy.  The biggest challenge was keeping the dust contained when breaking the concrete wall, but all went well.

Wetsuits are featured in the new alcove.

The store now has a much more open feeling and a lot more space. The new area features all the wetsuits and related items with women’s on the left side and men’s on the right. When I visited recently, I was informed that additional new displays and lighting are ordered and on their way to Bonaire.

We found a great value on booties!

While in the store, we found a really great value, and so we want to share it with our Bonaire Insider readers.  Currently, Carib Inn has booties for snorkeling or diving at only $39.00, but with a buy one, get two special. Different sizes can be purchased on this special, effectively making the price $19.50 per pair! If you are on Bonaire, and need some foot protection for shore diving or shore snorkeling, check out the thick-soled booties at Carib Inn. Be sure to bring your fins to check the fit.

Carib Inn is conveniently located at J. A. Abraham Blvd 46, with ample parking.

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)

 


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 on The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog.


 

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Precautionary Advisory for Jellies (Jellyfish) on Bonaire

The season of jellyfish on Bonaire–take precautionary measures in the coming weeks.

March and April are normally the months when more jellies (also commonly referred to as jellyfish, although they are not fish) can be encountered in the waters surrounding Bonaire. This year, it appears the season of jellies is starting earlier than normal.

Why are jellies more prevalent at this time of year?

Recently, through a combination of plankton blooms, which attracts jellies, and light wind reversals, large numbers of jellies washed up on Bonaire’s leeward (west) coast, including some that have painful and nasty stings. Luckily, plankton blooms are rare and short-lived and they mainly occur in colonies on the South American coast. Due to recent reversal of winds, they have been swept toward the ABC islands. The good news is that plankton and jellies are favorite foods for many turtles, rays, and whale sharks.

Jellies which can be found on Bonaire during jelly season.

Portuguese Man-of-War.

In mid-February, a Portuguese Man-of-War was spotted on the beach at Sorobon. It is a cnidarian with a float of up to 9″/25 cm, filled with a gas. This “float”catches the wind to “sail.” These jellies have very thin, very long tentacles which can reach quite deep. Usually the Portuguese Man-of-War lives in colonies far out to sea. During wind reversals they can be swept in closer to the coastline. A sting is extremely painful.

Bonaire Banded Box Jelly.

In February, the full moon occurred in conjunction with a plankton bloom and slight wind reversals, and these coinciding events hearkened the mating period of the box jelly, Tamoya Ohboya. These jellies mate in the evening near the coast, and swimming is not recommended during these times. Tamoya Ohboya is a translucent “balloon” swimming sideways. The sting is very painful and can be dangerous. Each month, during the first 10 days after the full moon, a few of these box jellies spotted on Bonaire.

Comb Jellies.

But it is not all bad news!  Comb jellies are oval-shaped jellies with a brightly striped “comb” which is used to propel themselves.  These jellies do not sting and they are favorite food for sea turtles! The spot winged comb jelly glows in the dark when something moves–just wave your hand in the water when you see them. A beautiful sight!

Avoiding stings from jellies.

Be aware of the jelly season, and try to avoid being in the water during prime mating time (in the evening hours ten days after a full moon).  When diving or snorkeling, be sure to wear a wet suit or skin. If you observe any Portuguese Man-of-War or any box jelly, do exit the water as soon as possible.

Medical assistance and first-aid for jelly stings.

If you do receive a sting from a jelly, first-aid procedures may include immersing the area in hot salt water or dousing with vinegar (although this is not recommended for the sting of the Portuguese Man-of-War).  Many dive shops also have Sting No More available in their retail stores.  Do not use urine or fresh water, and do not scratch or rub the afflicted area.

The San Francisco Hospital on Bonaire (telephone: (+599) 715-8900) also has protocols in place for bites and stings, including those of jellies.  If necessary, do report to the emergency room at the hospital for treatment and assistance.

(Source:  STINAPA)

 

 

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Reef Collapse at Keepsake Dive Site, Klein Bonaire

Keepsake dive site at Klein Bonaire experienced an underwater collapse in January, 2017.

At Keepsake on the southern side of Klein Bonaire, a large section of the reef recently collapsed in an underwater landslide. On the morning of January 20th, 2017, STINAPA personnel investigated the site and made their assessment.

Precautions should be taken when diving and snorkeling at Keepsake.

The site is unstable and STINAPA advises that divers and snorkelers stay away from the area both to protect people as well as prevent further collapse of the reef.

underwater avalanche at Keepsake, Klein Bonaire dive siteDetails of the underwater landslide.

The collapsed area is approximately 65″/20m southwest of the mooring buoy, starting at a depth of 40″/12m. The collapsed zone extends to a depth of at least 130″/40m. The total length of the collapsed zone is at least 100″/30m, if not longer. The width of the collapse is approximately 52″/16m near the top, and 92″/28m wide at a depth of 75″/23m, widening further at deeper depths.

Unfortunately, there were very few living corals left within the affected area. STINAPA personnel attempted to right a few toppled corals that remained, but deemed that the area was too unstable to work safely, as there is a risk of further reef collapse.

Reasons why reefs may collapse.

These types of reef collapses on steep slopes are a natural occurrence on such sloping reefs as at Keepsake, and they are most likely caused by reef bio-erosion. Living organisms such as sponges, worms, urchins and fish break down coral structures by boring, drilling, rasping and scraping the reef. There is speculation that sound waves from large passing ships may exacerbate this reef instability and trigger the collapse. However, there is no evidence to support this claim at the moment. Another attributing factor could be a 4.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred east of the ABCs on December 28th, 2016 at a depth of .27 mile/440m, which may have played a role in destabilizing the reef shelf. At the moment there is no singular, clear cause of this collapse.

Specific measurements of collapsed area.

The collapse begins at depths ranging from 40-43″/12 to 13m, and extends beyond 131″/40m. There is an outcrop of coral that divides the start of the collapsed zone; the northwest side is 20″/6m wide, the dividing coral ledge is 13″/4m wide, and the southeast side is also 20″/6m wide (these measurements were taken at a depth of between 42-46″/13 and 14m). STINAPA personnel measured the width of the collapsed area at 60″/18m where the collapsed zone was 85″/26m wide, and at 92″/28m where the collapsed zone was 75″/23m wide.

Once again, the reef at Keepsake dive site at Klein Bonaire is not considered stable at this time due to the collapse.  For their own safety, as well as the reef area, it is recommended that divers and snorkelers avoid this dive site for the time-being.

(Source:  STINAPA)

 

 

 

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Upcoming Nature Events with Washington Park Hike and Reef Fish Identification

Washington Park Hike and Reef Fish Identification Course offer fun and education.

Hiking in Washington Park on Sunday, February 26th, 2017.

Join STINAPA on Sunday February 26th at 7:00 AM for a Mondi Sùit Hike in Washington Slagbaai National Park. Participants will meet at the park entrance at 7:00 AM.

What will I see?

Hiking in Washington Park, Bonaire

Hiking in Washington Park

This will be a hike of approximately 6 km/3.75 mile, and is rated as an easy hike. It’s also a hotspot for bird-watching. During the hike, participants will have a view of Boka Chikitu and Seru Grandi. You will also pass alongside Saliña Matijs, which many times provides views of Bonaire’s flamingos.

How do I register?

If you would like to participate, please call STINAPA at 717-8444 to reserve your spot. There is space for only 25 people and the participation fee is $10.00 per person. Remember to wear good hiking shoes and a hat, wear sunscreen, and bring your water bottle.


Reef Fish Identification at CIEE on March 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th, 2017.

Each year, CIEE offers a fun and educational lecture series on Reef Fish Identification, and it is especially suited for divers and snorkelers who want to gain a better knowledge of all those fish they see while enjoying Bonaire’s reefs.

Reef Fish Identification Course

Slender File Fish

This is a four-part lecture series taking place at 6:30 PM on March 6th, 13th, 20th, and March 27, 2017. CIEE lectures are held at their headquarters at Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot #26. All presentations are free, and many fill up quickly, so be sure to arrive with plenty of time.

Bonaire's Calendar of Events

(Source:  STINAPA and CIEE)

 

 

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The Candy Striped Crab, a New Marine Species Discovered on Bonaire by Ellen Muller

The Candy Striped Crab, discovered and documented by Ellen Muller, has been officially listed as a new species.

Those who think they have seen it all while diving on Bonaire, they need to re-think that! Talented Bonaire photographer, Ellen Muller, has another new marine species under her weightbelt, with the official recognition of Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae, or otherwise now known as the Candy Striped Hermit.

Ellen’s first new species was a nudibranch.

In August 2007, the Bonaire Insider published an article about a new nudibranch species discovered in Bonaire by Ellen which was later officially added as a new species.  The nudibranch was named Trapania bonellenae, a combination of Bonaire and Ellen.

Ellen’s latest discovery, a new crustacean.

The Candy Striped Crab is a new species found on Bonaire by Ellen Muller.

The Candy Striped Crab is a new species found on Bonaire by Ellen Muller. Pictured here with a Flaming Reef Lobster.

And now, the Candy Striped Hermit has been officially confirmed.  Ellen tell us this about her latest discovery:

On a night dive, in December of 2015, I took some photographs of a Flaming Reef Lobster (Enoplometopus antillensis). Back home, when I looked at the photos on my computer, I noticed an unusual looking, extremely small hermit crab with coloring unlike any that I had seen before. I sent the photo to a crustacean expert, Arthur Anker, who suggested that I forward the photo to Rafael Lemaitre who specializes in hermit crabs. Neither had seen anything like it but the detail in the photo was too poor to make a positive identification. I was told to try and get some better close up photos.

 

Ellen thought to herself that this would be an impossible task, akin to finding a needle in a haystack.  However, she went back to the area where she photographed the lobster, and, lo and behold, she found three of the hermit crabs and got some decent photos and she sent them back to Rafael.

His response?

“This is amazing, shows how little we know of the Caribbean. I still can’t be sure, but even with your earlier photo I had the suspicion it might be a species of Pylopaguropsis, of which several species in the Pacific have similar striking color patterns. There are 16 described species worldwide, but only one is known from the western Atlantic (and it is not that one on just color differences). The species in this genus tend to have very massive right chelipeds, with a flattened chela, much like it appears to be in the photos you just sent. All subject to confirmation by examination of specimens.”

Ellen continued with the proper protocol for confirming her new species.  After obtaining the proper paperwork, a few specimens were sent to the Smithsonian Institution, and it was confirmed that these hermit crabs are indeed a new species. For those who enjoy learning the science behind this, the scientific article can be found here.

The crab is named for her granddaughter, Molly.

As the discoverer of the new hermit crab species, Ellen gets to name it.  She has dubbed this crab Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae after her granddaughter in the hope that Molly will continue the tradition of celebrating and protecting the amazing diversity of marine life in Bonaire’s waters.

Ellen would like to give special thanks to Rafael Lemaitre, who was so enthusiastic about describing this beautiful little crab. Thanks to VIP Diving, Frank van Slobbe, Paul Hoetjes and CIEE’s Rita Peachey and Amy Wilde for their help with this new species.

Congratulations, Ellen, keep it up!  Now, divers have a new marine species to find on their next Bonaire dive trip.

(Source:  Ellen Muller, images and video by Ellen Muller)

 

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STINAPA Presents Public Presentation About Shark Research and Coral Bleaching

STINAPA Connecting People with Nature lecture series about shark research and coral bleaching.

Shark research on Bonaire.

Sharks and rays on Bonaire are the subject of recent scientific research.

Sharks and rays on Bonaire are the subject of recent scientific research.

Last September, the Bonaire Insider shared some information on new shark research being conducted on Bonaire. STINAPA and IMARES collaborated to assess the current diversity and distribution of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) in Bonaire’s waters. This study is part of a three-year “Save Our Sharks” research and outreach campaign.

Sharks are natural regulators of fish populations on Caribbean reefs. Learn more about how sharks help keep fish populations healthy, as well as the results of the September survey about the diversity and distribution of sharks on Bonaire by attending STINAPA’s presentation at CIEE on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch and effect of coral bleaching on Bonaire.

A second topic discussed will be about the results of STINAPA’s recent project monitoring (December, 2016) on the extent and severity of coral bleaching in the Bonaire Marine Park, in response to a Coral Bleaching Alert Issued for Bonaire by NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch. Luckily, the project found that the extent and severity of the bleaching on Bonaire is not severe. Learn more about why corals bleach, the impact to our reefs, and the efforts STINAPA is taking to protect our reef resilience.

Event Venue.

This presentation is open to anyone with an interest, and is a part of STINAPA’s Connecting People with Nature series.  As always, all lectures hosted by CIEE are held at their headquarters at Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot #26 in Kralendijk from 7:00 to 8:00 PM.

(Source:  STINAPA)

Bonaire's Calendar of Events

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Vote Now in Carib Inn’s Annual Photo Contest

The Carib Inn Photo Contests.

It was twelve short months ago when the Bonaire Insider announced that Carib Inn would commence with weekly photo contests.  Guests could submit their favorite images from their time on Bonaire.

Carib Inn's Annual Photo Contest

A great prize!

The photo contests proved to be a popular way to share great Bonaire images, and, now that the twelve months are up, it’s time to pick the Best of the Best!  The overall lucky winner will receive a 6-day shore diving package for two persons at Carib Inn.

Help choose the winner.

And now, Carib Inn would like your help in choosing a winner!  Simply click here to view the competition images.  Hover over your favorite image, and click on the star to vote.  Only one vote per person, and the contest is over on October 31st, 2016.  Visit back often to see how the votes are being tallied.

Vote Now!

 

(Source:  Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn)

 

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