“Coralpalooza” 2017

“Coralpalooza” 2017, an event organized by STINAPA Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire took place yesterday, June 3rd.  Volunteers helped clean the various coral nurseries on Bonaire and Klein.  This video features the Harbour Village site and we were lucky to have the STINAPA Bonaire Junior Rangers participate!  Thanks to GAB dive shop crew and manager Christine Ball.

Shrimp Manicure Anyone?

The Pederson cleaner shrimp is most often spotted living in a Caribbean Anemone.  They are found in the Western part of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean oceans. They have a clear translucent body with beautiful purple and blue markings. Their front claws are very large and are also adorned with the same purple and blue patterns.

These shrimp also act as cleaner shrimp. They lure fish into their surroundings using their large antennae. Many fish will allow them to clean the inside of their mouths referred to by divers as a “cleaning station”.  If they are not busy, you can gently move your hand near their antennae and receive a complimentary manicure.

Reproduction:

After the male cleaner shrimp fertilizes her eggs the female then carries them in her pleopod. She then releases the young into the water column, which produces a pelagic larval form. After the young planktonic shrimp develops it immediately finds its host anemone.  If you look closely, you can see the fertilized eggs in the first two images.

Photos by Shelly Craig, Bonaire Netherlands Caribbean

 

Queen Angelfish Portrait

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They are shy fish, found often alone unlike the French Angelfish often found in pairs in the warm waters of the Caribbean and western Atlantic. Fairly large for reef-dwellers, they can grow up to 18 inches (45 centimeters) in length with a lifespan of 15 years. They have rounded heads and a bird-like mouth, and their long upper and lower fins stream dramatically behind them.

Queen angelfish get their royal title from the speckled, blue-ringed dark spot on their heads that resembles a crown.  Next week a watercolor image showing her crown.

Decked out with electric blue bodies, yellow hashtags, blazing yellow tails, and light purple and orange highlights, Queen angels are among the most strikingly colorful of all reef fishes. Their adornments seem shockingly conspicuous, but they blend well when hiding amid the exotic reef colors.

The Queen Angelfish is one of my favorite fish to photograph.  If I get a glimpse of one, and capture a portrait, it’s a great dive!

Sources: National Geographic

Photo by: Shelly Craig 1st place EPIC Underwater Photographic Image Competition

Nikon 150 Lens, Sea and Sea Housing, Duo YS Strobes

Fun Facts about Jellyfish

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Jellyfish watercolour and ink

Fun Facts:

Some jellyfish are bigger than a human and others are as small as a pinhead.

People in some countries eat jellyfish.

Jellyfish have been on Earth for millions of years, even before dinosaurs.

Jellyfish have no brain but some kinds have eyes.

Jellyfish are mainly made up of water and protein.

A group of jellyfish is called a smack or bloom.

Jellyfish are found in every ocean, from the surface to the deep sea.

Sources: National Geographic, Smithsonian

Art rendering: by S. Craig

Lionfish Hunter

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The first Lionfish was spotted on Bonaire in October, 2009.  They reproduce rapidly and aggressively prey on small fish and invertebrates.  The venom of the lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal. Their feeding consumption poses a major threat to reef ecological systems all throughout the Caribbean.

Jim Morris, “The Lion Fish Guy,” says it’s our fault. Pretty, frilly fins made the fish a favored pet and lured aquarists and aquarium dealers into a false sense of security. We simply didn’t see how dangerous these charismatic fish were—dangerous not for their venom, but for their beauty. We have trouble killing beautiful things, so instead we choose to release them into the wild, believing somehow that this is a better option when, in actuality, it’s the worst thing we can do.”  (Slate News-Christie Wilcox)

Native to the Indio-Pacific, it is now believed aquarium owners first dumped lionfish off the coast of Florida in the mid-1980s. Since the fish don’t have any natural predators here, they have the chance to multiply quickly, overtaking and killing native species, which results in a huge danger for the local environment and aquatic life on Bonaire. 

The current management philosophy is to kill ‘em and eat ‘em. 

It is legal to hunt lionfish on Bonaire through a dive operator but only when using marine park authorized spears. The Lionfish Hunter Specialty consists of a knowledge development session, practice using the hunting tools and two training dives actually hunting lionfish. You will receive a PADI Lion Fish Hunter specialty card recognized by STINAPA Bonaire (National Park Foundation Bonaire) and you will contribute to keeping our reefs healthy.

To further educate and eradicate these predators STINAPA Bonaire has organized events such as the “Malicious & Delicious Derby” to spotlight the problem and encourage the removal of the invasive lionfish.

National Geographic /Ocean service.noaa.gov/STINAPA Bonaire/Slate News

“Vitamin Sea” coursework project  “Jane Davenport Art School” http://www.janedavenport.com

Art Image:  S. Craig, Watercolor and ink

Fly your colors

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The flag of Bonaire was adopted on December 11, 1981, and consists of a large blue triangle in the lower right corner and a smaller yellow triangle in the upper left corner. They are separated by a white strip containing a black compass and red six-pointed star.

The blue and yellow triangles represent the sea and sun, respectively, while the white represents the sky. The black compass symbolizes the population of Bonaire who come from the four corners of the world, and the red six-pointed star symbolizes the original six villages of Bonaire – Antriol, Nikiboko, Nort Saliña, Playa, Rincon and Tera Korá. The red, white and blue colors are also a display of loyalty towards the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

A Rare Find and my “15 Minutes”

Rare find.  Photo donated to Smithsonian Institute.

“Reticulate Moray Eel”

I was scrolling through some of my old Kodak slide film photo images and came across this guy.

It must have been taken near the time of the Millennial?  We were diving a lot back then.

I remember the dives were over as soon as I shot my roll of 36 or got cold.  Once we rinsed our gear, we drove to “Paradise Photo” in town to drop off the film.  The next day, once the roll was processed I took it back to the dive shop and hovered over the light table with a big magnifying loop to see if I “got anything”.

“What’s this?”  It was quite a flurry of activity and excitement.  No one had seen this particular creature this far South before.  Note his big “horns”.  Further investigation and inquiries were made by the then Harbour Village Dive shop manager, Marion Wilson. Consultations ensued with area dive shops.

The above image is one of a series…..the best one being sent off by Ms. Wilson to the  National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (USNM) it now rests in their “type specimen repository”.

Nice memory.

Fitness on Vacation?

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Almost missing your connection shouldn’t be the only time you work up a sweat on vacation. We get it: your travel plans might make you tempted to forget about your workout routine.  Especially if it’s an “active” vacation like a scuba diving trip.

Scuba Diving may not burn enough calories to make up for the extra indulgences we treat ourselves to when vacationing.  “PADI has done quite a bit of research on this, and estimates that an average shore-dive in temperate water burns as much as 600 calories per hour — the same as jogging. However, a leisurely boat dive in warm, tropical waters burns about 300 calories an hour.”  (scuba diving magazine)

About the same calories as one Margarita!  So, if you want to maintain and not gain on your vacation, try these simple tips to keep in shape on the go:

Stretch post-flight

After a long trip, your muscles tend to be tighter than ever. When you get to your gate, ward off lower-back soreness with a forward fold: Bend at the hips and fall forward, and swing arms side to side. Stand up and stretch on the flight.  Once you arrive at your destination, help your body and mind reset with a couple of yoga stretches like: downward dog and the child’s pose. 

Scope out the fitness scene and try a new class.  You will have a more authentic stay by meeting some of the locals.

Wake up a half hour early and do a 30 minute jog along the sea or a few exercises to rev up your metabolism.  Jumping jacks, lunges and planking and you can be finished before the hotel gym opens.

You can also windsurf, ride a bike, swim, kayak, or SUPboard. Try something new on vacation, and burn a few calories while you’re at it.