Bonaire’s disaster management team works quickly to avert damage from oil spills.
For those Bonaire Insider readers who have been following our coverage of the oil spill from Trinidad that started coming ashore on Bonaire in May and June of this year, and whom read about the boobies which were rescued and covered in oil, we have some good news to share.
The fate of the six boobies.
How to tell when the birds are waterproofed?
In August and September, these seabirds were clean and healthy. However, they could not be released back into the wild until it was ascertained that they were once again waterproofed.
Equipment and trained personnel arrive from the European Netherlands.
Monique de Vrijer, a specialist in treating birds that have been victims of oil spills, flew to Bonaire to assist Elly Albers of The Mangrove Center, who had been nursing the birds back to health. Monique arrived on Bonaire with equipment, including portable pools, necessary for checking the birds’ waterproofing.
Insuring the birds are ready for release includes their own private pools.
Monique and her team of responders and specialists in Holland had daily meetings and helped to train Elly, her volunteers, and a STINAPA biologist on how to wash, rinse, promote preening/waterproofing, and draw blood (to see if the birds are healthy).
And finally, after many months of care on land, the boobies are released.
But the next threat arrives with a diesel transport truck overturning at Karpata.
Another oil spill calls for fast action by Bonaire.
A transport vehicle carrying hundreds of liters of diesel, had an accident at Karpata. The fuel storage area was compromised, and diesel was pouring out onto the land and into the sea.
Workers toiled tirelessly for the whole day to contain the spill.
After extricating the driver, who was transported to San Francisco Hospital for treatment, the team went into action to minimize damage. Personnel from STINAPA, Bopec, the Harbourmaster’s Office, and related disaster management team members worked tirelessly in the scorching sun to contain the spill.
Containment booms were deployed.
Bopec quickly offered their containment booms (temporary floating barriers used to contain an oil spill), which STINAPA staff deployed via their boats on the water. Throughout the day, the diesel from the spill area was vacuumed out of the water.
The next day, STINAPA biologists and marine park rangers once again returned to the spill site to begin assessing damage to the environment. Baseline studies are available, and the area will continue to be monitored to ascertain any long-term damage.
In both of these situations, quick action by Bonaire’s disaster management team averted massive damage. The team meets regularly, and trains for a variety of different calamities which might occur, and their training has been put to the test in recent months. They have passed with flying colors. Big thanks go out to all who helped.
(Source: OLB, STINAPA, Mangrove Info Center)
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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.