STINAPA Bonaire is collaborating with local corporations to mitigate the consequences of maintenance work to the commercial piers.
Moving sponges from dangerous areas to more protected areas.
When work needs to be conducted on commercial piers, sometimes the marine creatures which make the pier their home can suffer consequences. Currently, STINAPA and many volunteers are working together over the next several months to transplant sponges at Bonaire’s Salt Pier. The objective is to move sponges growing on the pilings from construction areas (1 meter below the water surface) to areas free from construction (2 meters or deeper) in an effort to safeguard the beauty and biodiversity of these sites while some much-needed pier renovation is carried out.
STINAPA provides training, the volunteers provide the work.
The main growth capable of reattaching itself is almost exclusively sponges, so they are the main focus of the sponge relocation project. This special project began with a training session and a short presentation by STINAPA biologists, giving biological information about sponge colonies and logistical information about moving them.
The first phase is successful with 26 transplantation dives.
In the first transplantation phase, 21 divers completed 26 sponge transplantation dives, mostly conducted by volunteers and all supervised by STINAPA staff. Many of the imperiled sponges are now safely tucked under fishing line in their new locations and they are expected to re-attach to the pilings within two months. Once reattached, clean-up crews will revisit the site to remove the fishing line. During this work, you may observe divers working on the sponges and wearing gloves. This is allowed only under strict supervision and with permission from STINAPA. Weekly sessions are scheduled along with extra training sessions and volunteers are always welcome! Interested parties may send an email to email@example.com to register or get additional information.
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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.