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.
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.
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
- STINAPA Junior Rangers
- The Dutch army
- Bonaire’s Fire Department
- Bonaire’s Police Department
- Ministry of I&M
- Bonaire Food Group
- van den Tweel Supermarket
- The Mangrove Info Center
- Elly Albers
- 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 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.