Update 2016

miekeIn March-April 2016 I was again on Bonaire. I bought a little Sealife torch with an wide angle beam which comes with an adapter for the flashlight arm.

caribbean spiny lobster

caribbean spiny lobster

This way I got color back in my pictures! But I had to get close. It is not as strong as a flashlight, but still…. I’m happy with it (see the lobster).

There are a lot of new pictures with some more information.
I found a plug-in to show the pictures in the galleries. Click on a picture to enlarge and scroll along.
There is a new page “Extra” on which I will publish series of one species.

Welcome to my Bonaire

Mieke

Mieke

On my first trip to Bonaire I had a small underwater pocket camera. Only suitable for snorkeling. Then I bought a Sea and Sea MM1 with an external flashlight and made many slides. I’ve scanned them all, took me hours and hours. After 20 years the Sea and Sea was at its end. The re winder didn’t work anymore. I had to sit in a dark room to rewind the film. Time to buy a digital camera. In 2004 the Konica Minolta dimage was a good choice. It needs a housing and a new flash light. It’s not so robust as the Sea and Sea was. I’ve drowned 2 camera’s, one is out of focus, can’t open the accu access of the flashlight anymore. Bought a new o-ring for the housing. No, the quality is not as it used to be. But it still works. The last couple visits I don’t use the flashlight anymore. I miss the colors, but the camera fits in my BC pocket. I don’t scare the fish away and can get closer to them. But I don’t have to get too close, without the flash I don’t have to. The other advantage of this camera is the movie mode. I love making movies. A lot of fish are easier to film than to photograph.
I’ve made a lot of slide-movies and some books. But nobody sees them but me, my family and some friends. So, I decided to share some of them with the rest of the world. I´m not the only one who does that. I´m not a top photographer. Not all the pictures are perfect. But they are my memories of the fantastic times on Bonaire. I hope you will enjoy them too. The movies are on Youtube.

Discovering Bonaire

mountainous star coral

mountainous star coral

In 1979 I made my first dive in Greece. Back home (the Netherlands) I learned to dive in cold waters. 3 years  later I had my 2* CMAS license and was ready to explore more exotic places. Bonaire was the best place to go. So I bought a (open) plane ticket, booked the Hilltop hotel and flew all alone to the tropics (September 1983). Joop Rauwers had started Buddy Divers a few years before. The sons of the hotel owners operated “the base”: a compressor and tanks. In his free time, Joop would take divers out on his boat to Klein Bonaire or take us to special dive places. With me another Dutch couple was at the hotel. They took me to Play Lechi for my first dive. Beautiful! The next day Hans arrived. He had missed the plane. He was alone too but had a car and been on Bonaire before. The next 2 weeks we dove together and had a great time. When he left, I wasn’t ready to leave. I met a group KLM divers, who stayed at Bonaire Beach Bungalow, which is now known as Bellafonte, and stayed with them another 2 weeks. My enthusiastic stories back at my own diving club made 3 others divers wanting to go too. In 1986 I was back with Chris, Hans & Herma. Again in September and again with Buddy Divers. Joop moved the tanks to his own holiday apartments. The minibus was then popular with divers. With 4 photographers we made hundreds of slides in 2 weeks. In 1996 I was married to Chris and came back again (in August/September), this time his sister and her friend joined us. In 1999 we went to the Galapagos and met a group Americans. Nancy & Rich became good friends of us. They go to Bonaire almost every March. They didn’t understand why we didn’t go there more often, Bonaire being Dutch. But in those days, the flight was long, going through Caracas and Curacao. It’s not cheap. But we did go in March, low budget! We got addicted too! We’ve been back almost every year since then. Only skipping a year if we had other (expensive) trips planned.
A lot has changed through the years. More and more tourists come. Lots of houses and holiday accommodations have been built. The traffic is more. Wind and kite surfers have discovered the island. More choice in restaurants, car rentals and dive shops. Big cruise ships have found the island. There are wind mills now and solar energy is finally embraced.
2 tropical storms, Lenny (1998) and Omar (2008), destroyed a lot of the reefs. The first 10 meters was wiped out. Also on the deeper reefs you can see the damage. The hard corals suffered most. Some dive areas in Slagbaai NP were complete destroyed. Before the storms, Karpata was my favorite dive spot. Since then, I hardly go there anymore.  The mountainous star corals are all gone. All you see are the left overs. I feel lucky to have seen the reefs before the storms hit Bonaire. The enthusiastic stories of new divers make me realize Bonaire is still the best place to dive. That’s why, I suppose, I keep coming back. It’s great to see the corals coming back, with a little help from Stinapa.

References

For identification of the reef life I’ve used these books by Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach.

reef fish reef creature reef coral reef fish behavior

Useful websites:

infobonaire The official website of Bonaire.Info about hotels, carrental,diving, news, webcams etc. tourismbonaire The tourist site of Bonaire
stinapa STINAPA Bonaire is dedicated to the conservation of Bonaire’s natural and historical heritage through the sustainable use of its resources. seaturtle STCB protects the sea turtles of Bonaire
marinelife Photo site Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach and Eric Riesch  ciee  CIEE Research Station Bonaire is one of nearly 200 study abroad programs offered by CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange).
bonairenieuws News site bonairetalk If you like to talk with other Bonaire lovers or just looking for info
marine species

This site offers information on thousands of different species in the world’s oceans and seas.

 crf CRFB, founded in 2012. The mission of CRFB is to develop affordable, effective strategies for protecting and restoring the shallow water population of staghorn and elkhorn corals.