DFB Gossip – comings & goings
Hello once again to all our Dive Friends! We have had a great spring season with lots of changes to report. But first, we have lots of great sightings to report.
Once again Mantas were spotted at several dive sites along the west coast of Bonaire including on our Dive Inn and Sand Dollar house reefs. Many of our divers were lucky enough to see them. We have also had a lot of turtle sightings recently (yes, even more than normal!) as turtle breeding season is just beginning. In particular, Loggerhead nesting season has started so a lot of large adult Loggerhead turtles have been spotted around the island. Some large adult Green and Hawksbill turtles are starting to arrive but we expect to see more of them in June when their nesting seasons begins. You can learn more about sea turtles and how to identify the different species with our Sea Turtle Awareness Specialty. On top of that, the batfish has been spotted on and off at Yellow Submarine, and Hamlet has had several resident frog fish over the past few months. We love to share your favourite diving photos from Bonaire so feel free to e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org and like our Facebook page to keep up to date with all the latest sightings.
The BIG news!
In February, we finally completed all the renovations at Dive Friends @ Port Bonaire and it looks great! We have also finished moving into our new, larger location at Dive Friends @ Sand Dollar (read more below). We are now filling both air and nitrox at Sand Dollar for shores divers and we can also offer daily boat dives. Furthermore, within a few short weeks we will be opening our 6th dive location on Bonaire at the Courtyard by Marriott! Stay tuned for more information.
Working in the diving industry allows you to travel the world. However, this means that we often have to say good-bye to some of our favourite colleagues but it provides an opportunity to gain new friends. First off, we were very sad to see our General Manager Carolyn leave us in March. She is still on the island and she is working on new and exciting adventures. Pascal has since returned to manage the company. Devin also left at the end of April. He will first travel home to visit his family and then move to Mexico for work. Jeffrey will be replacing him as the location manager at Dive Inn. Gift will be leaving Port Bonaire to become the new location manager for Courtyard by Marriott. We also said good-bye to our instructor Edward, who returned to the Netherlands, and our Dive Master Oscar, who moved to Curacao.
It is not all sad news however, as we would also like to welcome several new crew to our team. Welcome to front desk assistant Joan at Sand Dollar, instructors Tim and Travis at Yellow Submarine and boat captain Larry.
Big congratulations are in order for our new PADI Dive Masters Matt and Jack. Way to go guys! They will soon be followed but Zack, Sarah and Veer! And of course we also have to congratulate our newest PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor Luis. Well done!
Don’t miss Bonaire Dive Week happening on May 14th to 19th. They have lots of great activities planned, including a clean-up dive on the afternoon of May 18th. The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire Underwater Clean-up Dive is scheduled for Saturday, July 8th, 2017. Of course, if you won’t be here then, you can always help us to clean-up our coast line and receive a free drink for your effort as part of the Debris Free Bonaire program. This is a great activity for your last day when you can’t dive before your flight. Read more here http://www.debrisfreebonaire.com/
Officially high season is over but that doesn’t mean things slow down at Dive Friends. We are gearing up for a busy and exciting summer! Hope to see you all again soon!
Written by Jesika
South Pier Clean-Up April 8
Catch up on our latest clean up dive by clicking here!
STCB Adopt a Nest at Te Amo Beach
We have once again partnered with Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire to adopt a sea turtle nest at Te Amo beach!
Sea turtles are one of the main attractions on Bonaire and are the highlight of many visitors’ trips. Bonaire is one of the most important nesting locations for sea turtles in the world and we are home to three species of marine turtles: Loggerhead (threatened), Green (endangered) and Hawksbill (critically endangered) sea turtles.
The majority of our sea turtle nesting sites are located on the northeast coast of Klein Bonaire. However, there are still plenty of nesting sites on the main island of Bonaire including Te Amo Beach. This nesting site is very special and requires extra attention because it is located across from Flamingo International Airport. Baby turtles hatch at sunset or later in the evening and use the reflection of light off the ocean to guide themselves to the water. Therefore, when it is time for the baby turtles to hatch, many volunteers are required to build a “human wall” in order to shield the baby turtles from the bright lights of the airport and help guide them to the sea.
A great article about this event with photos and video can be viewed here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/03/human-wall-sea-turtles-bonaire-photo_n_3540504.html
We can’t wait for our nest to hatch this summer!
Written by Jesika
Parrotfish: The Grazers of the Reef
What’s that weird rasping sound you hear every time you dive into the Caribbean clear waters? It’s the crunching sound of a parrot fish having its daily snack on micro-algae extracted from the coral reef. Scaridae, or Parrotfish, are a group of about 95 different species found in relatively shallow tropical and subtropical ocean waters throughout the world. While the largest species are found in the Indo-Pacific, there are 12 very colourful species in the Caribbean and of course on Bonaire!
Parrotfish get their name from there well-defined teeth. Their teeth are fused into a beak to allow for their unique feeding behavior. They use it to scrape micro-algae off corals and other rocky substrates. Along with the micro-algae, the fish swallow small pieces of limestone that break off from the coral. This is ground up by their teeth and in the back of their throat to eventually be excreted as beautiful, fine sand. A large adult Parrotfish can excrete over a ton of sand per year! Scientists estimate that up to 70 percent of the Caribbean beach sand has been excreted by Parrotfish (the other 30% comes from erosion). Did you realize that most of our white sandy beaches are actually Parrotfish poop?
Parrotfish are seen all over the reef during the day but don’t forget these brightly colored pretty fishes can also be seen at night “sleeping.” As the sun goes down, some species of Parrotfish extrude a mucus cocoon that they generate from an organ on their head. They then spend the night in their cocoon remaining motionless to avoid potential predators, like moray eels, who are trying to catch their scent. Parrotfish also have a thin mucus film on their skin with antioxidant properties, which helps them to fight parasites and other bodily damage. Keep an eye out when you are searching for the octopus and moray eels at night as you may be able to see a sleeping Parrotfish tucked away in its coral bed.
Here are some helpful hints to recognize a few of our Parrotfish species:
When you hear the word midnight you think of a dark starry sky.
The Midnight Parrotfish is very dark blue with spots (stars) on its face.
Princess Parrotfish (Adult):
A princess wears makeup and a gold bracelet and she sees the world through rose tinted glasses. See any similarities with the Princess Parrotfish? They have a very colourful body with a blue and pink stripe through their eyes, a yellow/orange pectoral fin and a fading orange blotch across their mid-body.
Like many marine fishes, the stoplight Parrotfish has a very distinct juvenile/intermediate and adult colour pattern. The intermediate phase is mainly red (like a stop light) with white flecked scales across the body. The adult phase is mainly green (Go!) with a yellow spot on the upper corner of the gill cover and a yellow crescent on the tail.
Next time you are on a fun dive keep these new facts in mind. Challenge yourself to learn to identify all 12 species of parrotfish around Bonaire!
Written by Zara
Internship at Dive Friends Bonaire
I am Florine, a 17 year old girl from the Netherlands. I’m in the fifth year of high school and I am following a bilingual course. For my course an international internship is required, so that’s what I did at Dive Friends Bonaire! It was the first time that I travelled outside Europe without my parents and I loved it!
I had an amazing week at the 5 different Dive Friends locations. I was very excited for my first day because I did not know what to expect. Luckily for me, the Dive Friends staff is amazing! Everyone is very helpful. The first morning, Veer explained everything to me about Yellow Submarine. This was very interesting because it was all new to me (I had no dive experience at all). In the afternoon, I visited the Dive inn location. It was very different from Yellow Sub but also very nice. The staff there was super friendly and I even got to do my first Discover Scuba Dive with Ivo that day! I loved it! It was a great start to my one week internship.
The following days were all very different. I visited Hamlet Oasis on Wednesday and Sand Dollar on Thursday. It was nice to see how each location is unique and how they all have their own ambiance. I also learned about the Diver’s Lifestyle, which was completely new to me. At home I live a very structured and busy life focusing on school and the future. It was inspiring how relaxed most people were, just helping each other out and enjoying every day, living by the day.
It was my first time on Bonaire and my first dive, but definitely not my last!
Written by Florine
Update on our new Sand Dollar/Den Laman location
Dive friends smallest and least known location has just become a lot larger!
On January 1st 2017, Dive Friends Bonaire’s smallest shop moved next door to the old Bonaire Dive and Adventure property by Den Laman. Instead of a small shack in the parking lot at Sand Dollar Resort, Dive Friends @ Sanddollar is now able to offer extended services to guests of Den Laman and Sand Dollar Resort. These guests have 24 hour access to tanks, the pier and gear room. Boat pickups directly from the pier are also possible. The move occurred during the high season and improvements have been happening on a daily basis.
The pier needed some extensive renovations to strengthen its under-structure. That work is still ongoing. Meanwhile, on the pier itself, the rinse tanks have been improved, new concrete laid, and everything has been given a fresh coat of paint and professional signs. The boats are picking up our guests daily, both for morning two-tank dives and one-tank afternoon trips to Klein Bonaire. Currently, our guests also have Percy the Pelican keeping them company on the pier!
The bathrooms are in operation and remain open daily for guests to use. The guest gear room has a number system now so we can ensure plenty of space for everyone. The gear room was divided into two to reserve space for condo owners but so far, since there are very few owners over the summer months, our guests are using the full room. It’s available to get your gear out 24 hours a day!
The gear rental room is fully stocked with all the usual dive gear, plus we have a selection of full face masks and snorkels for non-divers.
The office/retail is almost finished; we’re just waiting for the flooring. There are lots of the essential retail items, dive accessories, caps, t-shirts and more. Posters around the shop help our guests see what products and services we have to offer. And of course, the large dive retail store is across the road and open daily for our guests.
Finally, we have the compressor room. It really is convenient for divers. There is plenty of room to park and load the truck. A set of large rinse tanks are directly adjacent. The 24-hour system (both on the dock and the tank room) is well used. We have new gravel in front of the compressor room which looks nice and keeps down the dust. While the pier is only available to Sand Dollar and Den Laman Resort guests, the tank room and rinse station is open from 8 am to 5 pm to serve all Dive Friends Bonaire divers.
Best of all, we now have a Sand Dollar Team! Ilsa is still the Location Manager. We have been lucky to get two old staff members from BDA. ET is a Dive Master and is primarily responsible for the pier and the tanks. He often joins the guests for boat dives and they enjoy that very much. Joan worked for 16 years in the retail office of BDA. She is really nice, a great worker and, as with ET, the old BDA guests are very pleased to see a familiar face. Even our DFB Sand Dollar people know Joan because she worked there for so many years! We also, in busier times, get Shaun, an experienced DFB crew member. Shaun has been doing the Sunday check-ins at Sand Dollar for the last four years so he knows many of our repeat guests and is great with them. We aim to be a steady team to provide continuity and a familiar face to our repeat guests.
In truth, we could not have taken over at a busier moment! There was so much to do in the first couple months. We now have the entire quiet season to ensure that we are fully prepared, with the perfect product and service for the upcoming high season. Hope to see you here soon!
Written by Ilsa
Feel the Fear, Do it anyway!
I remember very well how this whole adventure started. On our camping trip, my friend J and I were enjoying a glass of wine in the afternoon sun (note: we were wearing very thick sweaters since the camping trip was in the Netherlands). I was telling her about my plans to move to Bonaire. Moving to Divers Paradise – a big thing for somebody who is afraid of and not very comfortable in the water. While the two of us were talking about our fears and making up excuses why we weren’t already divers, I decided to write a message to a dive instructor I knew.
Of course, I began by telling the instructor about all my fears and that I was not convinced about the whole diving thing yet! However, I had made enough excuses in my life. This was not going to be another “if only I had tried” situation. I made up my mind and told myself “before I go to Bonaire, I am at least going to try to dive. Maybe not in the sea but at least I will try in the pool.” And so I booked a Discover Scuba Diving course for myself and my daughter Fee.
About two weeks later, we were on our way to the Pieter Van Den Hoogenband swimming pool. I was nervous the entire day. All sorts of crazy thoughts were going through my head: I am a lousy swimmer, I don’t dare to jump in the pool, all the other people are probably really good swimmers and won’t like it if they have to wait for me, I am such a bad example for my daughter, etc. And then all of a sudden we were there. After some theory we got changed and went to the pool area. Oh no, what did I get myself into!?
I tried to act all cool for Fee, but my legs felt like jelly and my stomach was doing summersaults. There I was, with a tank of air on my back, on the edge of the deep end of the pool. Everybody was already in the water, but I was afraid to let go. “You guys go ahead and descend. I’ll just stay here.” I told the other open water students. But they wouldn’t go. Patiently, my instructor Jean Pierre, his colleagues and the other students wait for me to hop into the pool. It felt like forever. I checked my BCD again and again. After a lot of doubt, I finally jumped in. Everybody was proud and enthusiastic! I was relieved but mostly mad at myself for being so difficult. Unfortunately, Fee did not do as well. She had difficulty with her ears and she could not finish the course.
I finished the introductory class and it went pretty well. I decide to go on and I tell my instructor that I would be there next week for lesson 2. I planned to finish the theory and pool work in the Netherlands and to complete the open water dives once I arrived on Bonaire. For me, the entire course was about conquering my fears. A soon as the seated hop into the pool wasn’t scary anymore, I had to learn the giant stride. All over again I was at the edge of the pool with jelly knees and a lovely bystander holding my hand until I jumped. Slowly, this too got better over time.
Eventually the time came. Everyone else in the group was planning to finish the open water dives the upcoming weekend. At the last minute I decided to stick with the group and also finish the open water course in the chilly Dutch water. It wasn’t easy but, after two days in the cold, cloudy lake water, I officially became a PADI Open Water Diver.
Two months later, Fee and I moved to Bonaire. Soon after arriving, I signed up at Dive Friends Bonaire and I was ready to go diving. My first dive on Bonaire was with my friend T, who is also conveniently a dive instructor. She knew that I was scared and inexperienced, so she was very patient and held my hand the entire dive. “This is awesome,” I thought to myself, “it is so beautiful here! I am so happy that I did this.”
The longer I spent on the on the island, the more divers I got to know. I dove as often as possible and I got more confident every time I went into the water….until my new dive buddy Jaap took me to Oil Slick, a dive site with a 2 m jump! When we were ready to go, he jumped first of course. I was then left standing on the cliff, trying to get my fins on, and my legs were doing it again: Jelly!!!! Other divers started lining up behind me and giving me all their best advice. My entire body refused to jump but I was determined to do it anyway. Finally…I jumped! Whoop whoop! I did it! Not an enormous jump, but I did it!
I had barely recovered from the Cliff Jump when my lovely friend Jesika decides that I need to get my Advanced Open Water certificate. “That way,’’ she says, “we can dive deeper and go the Hilma Hooker!” I was less enthusiastic but, reluctantly, I began studying. With the help of my two amazing friends/instructors (Jesika and Nienke), I made it to 30 m, learned to navigate and did my first wreck dive. I became an Advanced Open Water diver!
In the meantime, I also met a cute new dive buddy and we decide to have a dive date the next day. We met up and gathered all our dive gear. I asked which dive site we were driving to. He replied that we were not driving anywhere, we were going by boat! “Oh no,” I thought, “I have never jumped of a boat before and it will probably take my jelly legs forever!” I decided to fess up and tell him honestly how I felt about jumping off the boat. He smiled and told me patiently that “We have all day.” Slightly relieved but still nervous, I agreed.
Of course, once again when the time came to jump into the water, I was shaking life a leaf. I stood on the edge of the boat, checking my BCD over and over, while my new buddy waited patiently in the water. I wanted to badly to act cool and impress my new buddy but my body refused to move. After what seemed like an hour, I finally stuck out my right leg and made a giant stride into the water. I was relieved and happy (I suppose my buddy felt the same as he had been waiting a while) and we had a great dive. We went for many more boat dives and each time my jelly legs got a bit better. Until the next challenge, the back-roll! Once again, I find myself paralyzed on the edge of the boat. I am frustratingly terrified like every time before. I decide that enough is enough! I stick my fins in the air and roll off the boat. Hooray! Right away I climbed back onto the boat and did it again just to be sure I had actually overcome my fear. We went for a lovely dive and finished with a mini bottle of champagne.
In between all this, I took on a job as Front Desk at Yellow Submarine. That scared little woman who was afraid to swim in the sea, is now working in a dive shop! I check customers in, handout rental gear and help them with their buoyancy checks. My office now has a waterfront view and I look out on the ocean all day. I watch divers entering the water, people catching boats, swimmers and snorkelers. There is always a lot of action in the water. Therefore, my co-workers decided that I should earn my Emergency First Response and Rescue Diver certification….and so, my next challenge was born.
The rescue course started a few weeks later. I was very nervous; this is very challenging and intense stuff. I had to rescue people and play a drowning victim for two and a half days. My dear friend (the one who makes me do stuff like this time and again) gave me a super hero bracelet to make me brave. Well…she called it the “no whining” bracelet but we agreed to disagree. The other participants and I were exhausted after the course, but I was proud of myself for actually doing it!
I came so far in just one year. I couldn’t stop now! This was the moment; I’d been given the opportunity so I needed to grab the bull by the horns! I decided to aim even higher: I am going to be a Dive master! I found a great mentor at Dive Friends and I work on my DM course every afternoon. I know that this will present me with a lot of hurdles to overcome and it will be scary too. Some things I will love, others I will hate, but I am going to do this. I’ve come this far, I might as well finish it! Feel the fear, do it anyway!
Written by Veer