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Plastic Fantastic

Look around you, probably 90% of the objects are made of plastic or have some plastic in them. Plastic was invented at the start of the 20th century. Its was found when they tried to make plant products more durable. The first plastic was super small and not used a lot. However, when world war I and II raged, lots of natural resources got depleted and the need for new resources grew. Plastic was used a lot more during world war II for airplanes, parachutes, bullets, guns etc. Its exponential growth started in the fifties. People were rebuilding and the economy was at its lowest. Plastic was a convenient invention which was cheap to structure and hard to break.

Plastic is fantastic, it is cheap, doesn’t break, doesn’t take up flavors or smell and it can be watertight! However, we started using a lot of plastic for the wrong reasons. We are living in a world where everything has to be fast, easy, cheap, and available. However, using a plastic bottle for 5 minutes while it will outlive all of us is not the way to go.

We need to change our behavior towards plastic. Use it the way it was meant to be used. Like your diving suit and equipment. This is all made from plastic. But we pay good money for this equipment which triggers us to be careful! We deem these products worth a second chance, pay for them to get fixed.

I feel like divers are an easy crowd to tell my story to. We all love the ocean and like to be surrounded by fish instead of plastic. Because of this shared passion, it is easier to make changes in our life. I firmly believe we can make a change, yes companies and governments need to change with us. But we are the pressure that can affiliate this change. I hope you are all inspired to save our oceans by keeping them clean!

Tips and Tricks:

  • Bring your own cup and bottle for water or coffee!
    There are very nice reusable bottles for sale that keep your water hot or cold for a long time.
  • Clean up wherever you go.
    We have mesh bags to do some underwater clean ups, just ask at one of our 8 locations.
  • Use reusable alternatives.
    Use your own forks, knives and cups when you go for a BBQ on the beach!
  • Try to separate your waste.
    Selibon is doing a great job of recycling. We have separate bins for everything at our 8 locations! Don’t let it end up in the landfill.

Check out Debris Free Bonaire to see what else you can do to keep this awesome island beautiful!

“There is no green without blue” Sylvia Earl

 

By Roos Swart, Dive Master @ Dive Friends Bonaire

News Splash April 2019

Welcome to the Dive Friends Bonaire quarterly news update! Read about recent events and get a sneak peak in our future plans. Excited to go diving with us?Contact us today!

Behind the Lens

Meet our Photography Specialist

Meet Caitlin, the incredibly creative women behind the Dive Friends Bonaire Photography center.

In January we launched our Photography Department, offering Customized Photography courses. Curious how Caitlin started diving and when she fell in love with photography?

Please read it here and get inspiration out of her story.

Go Pro!

Become a Dive master or Master Scuba Dive Trainer with Dive Friends Bonaire!

Ever thought about swapping your office job for a diving job? It has never been so easy! Sign up to become a dive professional and make your dream come true!

In February Dive Friends organized another IDC on Bonaire. The IDC is intended for Divemasters who want to take the next step and become an instructor. During the IDC, which takes approximately two weeks, a Course Director and a Staff Instructor help you to prepare for the Instructor Examination (IE). You learn how to present dive theory, to prepare confined and open water presentations and to perform dive skills on an instructor level. All in all, it’s an intense, but also extremely fun and educational course!

Once you’ve passed your IE, you will take several specialties to deepen and broaden your knowledge and to further develop your instructor skills. The specialties that Dive Friends organized in February, included Deep Diver, Shore Diver, Enriched Air, Shark Awareness Conservation and Self-Reliant Diver. Not only the new instructors, but also Dive Friends staff successfully participated in all these specialties and are ready to teach you!

If you’d like to become an instructor, please sign up for our next IDC in August!

Plunge into the next IDC! August 11th, 2019

Upcoming Event

Quarterly Clean Up Dive April 13th

Join us on our upcoming Clean Up Dive at the Town Pier/North Pier. Check in will start at 9:30 AM, with a briefing for all volunteers at 10 AM. Please take your certification cards (if you are not signed in with us). Non divers can also help with counting and logging the items removed from the water for PADI Project Aware Dive Against Debris.

As always, we will be hosting a barbecue at 6 PM for our volunteers at Hamlet Oasis. It is a potluck, so please bring a snack, side dish or dessert to share and we will provide the main course and one beverage.

Save the Date

Upcoming Events

April

23rd & 24th Ostracod Night Dive

May

5th – 11th Dive Friends Bonaire – Sunscreen Awareness Week

18th – 25th Bonaire Dive Week

22nd & 23rd Ostracod Night Dive

June

8th World Oceans Day

16th – 21st Dive Friends Bonaire Ocean Reef Full Face Mask Week

21st & 22nd Ostracod Night Dive

July

20th Womens’ Dive Day

Stay tuned with the latest events and activities on our Social media!

 

How happy are the turtles on Bonaire?


Read everything about the turtles on Bonaire, where they live, what they eat and why they are happy in our newest blog from Roos, our Divemaster and environmental specialist.

Behind the lens – SeaHale Photography

Meet Caitlin, the woman behind the Dive Friends Bonaire Photography center.

Caitlin has been working hard with several organizations and photography specialists to set up a photography department within Dive Friends! Not the kind where we rent out a camera and tell you which button to press but customized photography courses! Curious how Caitlin started diving and when she fell in love with photography? Please read it here and get inspiration from her story.

What was the reason for you to start diving?

Honestly? My University boyfriend! He was out in Thailand for summer holidays, so I went out for his last two weeks and for my 21st birthday. I left as an Advanced Open Water and Nitrox certified diver with two dive site cleanups under my belt. The week we got back, we planned our next dive vacation to Egypt for that Christmas! Saying that, I grew up as a competitive swimmer and lover of the ocean. The first job I said I wanted to do was Marine Biologist so that made me predisposed to liking it.

How did you get into photography?

I will be eternally grateful to my dad for this, he supported my interest and helped it grow into what it is today. Through him I realized you could take multiple things you are passionate about and create an even larger passion! He got me my first camera, then my first underwater camera and housing, and introduced me to ADOBE Lightroom. On a basic level, I like to capture moments and memories in photos better than journaling! It started at an early age in the woods and countryside of England. Lights/shadows, colours, and structures of nature inspired me. I wanted to share how I saw the world through my lens. When I became a diver, I was picturing the reef in the same way. I have a family full of non-divers who massively support me, I wanted to share my experiences with them! He also gets the credit for the creation of SeaHale. So, what I’d like to say is… Thank You Dad!

What is your top 1 tip for beginner photographers?

Make sure your buoyancy is good and then just shoot, Shoot, Shoot (practice, practice, practice)! Try it from different angles, landscape or portrait, and get creative. Have a quick look and review the photos, is it working? Practicing this will help you develop your skills, eye, and statistically greater chance of obtaining ‘the shot’.  It’s the beauty of digital because you can delete, delete, delete.

What is the secret behind a good photo?

Underwater? I’d say lights ?. Patience is key to obtaining good photos underwater (which means having a patient dive buddy)! Sometimes it’s best to slow right down and wait for the image opportunity to present itself, let the creatures become accustomed to your presence, and I’ll repeat shoot, shoot, shoot- that takes patience too! Start learning the behaviours of the reef: how they move, at what time, what is ‘normal/abnormal’, and that will help set you up for better shots too!

What makes Bonaire so special for photographers?

Essentially, it’s a classroom and playground. For the same reason as it is for scuba divers/snorkelers and water enthusiasts in general. You can pick up your gear and go whenever you like, you have the freedom to head out and dive/shoot your heart out. In general the conditions are most ideal! You’ve got wonderful subject selection, the Caribbean nursery Bonaire for macro marvels or pull out your wide-angle on Salt Pier or Northern Sites or even head to Klein Bonaire on the boat! It’s perfect to start or level up your photography and diving skills- you can truly learn how to dive with a camera, having that extra time to learn how the camera works and pair it with fine tuning your buoyancy (that will change completely every time you pick up a new piece of gear.)

How happy are the turtles on Bonaire?

Every tourist, diver, and snorkeler alike visits Bonaire for the abundance of turtles! Many green sea (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) can be found all around the island, and even the loggerheads (Caretta caretta) and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are occasionally sighted.

Sea Grass

The most abundant species, the green turtle, visits Bonaire for its favorite snack: the seagrass fields in Lac Bay. Their breakfast, lunch, and dinner is, “surprise surprise” called Turtle Grass (Thalassia testudinum) – a lush green grass that can grow up to 30 cm. The fields are perfectly mowed by our visitors. Green turtles are serious gardeners and keep their lawns fresh and perky.

Two years ago, joined a study of these awesome turtles’ grazing habits in Lac Bay. A new seagrass had arrived at Bonaire around 2010. Quite like the arrival of invasive Lionfish to Bonaire, this Halophila stipulacea came by shipping vessels ballast water. It thrived on Bonaire and rapidly spread throughout the bay. Research has been ongoing since 2010 to see if this new seagrass would change marine behavior in Lac.

Grazing behavior

My friend Irene and I researched grazing behavior over a 4-month period, looking at how abundance of marine life differed between patches of H.stipulacea and Turtle Grass. Every day, we took out kayaks loaded with dive gear, and spent 2-3 hours observing random spots in Lac Bay.

Smooth trunkfish

What an adventure! Apart from our research, we had Lionfish in our research cage and saw one of the biggest grey stingrays I have seen on Bonaire! Our research area indicators, wooden sticks with pink duct tape, were stolen by smooth trunkfish that kept following us across the bay. At one moment five trunkfish were following me in a perfect line.

Nursery

From our research, we concluded that Lac Bay remains an extremely diverse marine habitat. Millions of juveniles safely mature there before finding their way to the reef. However, the new H.stipulacea provides less protection and nutrition for juveniles compared to Turtle Grass, which our turtles still prefer. Unfortunately, the mowed lawns of Turtle Grass are more easily invaded than thick bushes – thus turtle grazing will likely help the invasion of H.stipulacea. The question remains if the Turtle Grass can survive this invasion (click here for the scientific paper).

Visit the turtles

Lac Bay is different from everything on Bonaire. The serenity and food availability keep not only green sea turtles happy but give all turtles a restful place to visit. Luckily for the turtles, diving in Lac Bay is forbidden. However, if you would like to get involved, you can dive Turtle City with East Coast Diving, enjoy snorkeling in the mangroves, sign up for the Turtle Awareness Specialty with Dive Friends, or join monthly lectures and volunteering opportunities with Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.


By Roos Swart, Dive Master @ Dive Friends Bonaire

News Splash January 2019

Welcome to the Dive Friends Bonaire quarterly news update! Read about recent events and get a sneak peak in our future plans. Excited to go diving with us? Send an email to info@divefriendsbonaire.com today!

Happy New Year!


We all wish you the best wishes for 2019 and many beautiful dives!

New logo

Dive Friends Bonaire has changed its logo as we are not just Yellow Submarine anymore. We have 7 locations where you can dive and 4 retail stores and chose to create a new logo that would represent all our locations and we are very happy with the result!

Meet the crew!

There has been a big change within our reservations department as Eva left us for a new adventure! Janneke has taken over this department and is now fully trained and ready to take over. Janneke grew up in The Netherlands and has been travelling and diving for the past 10 years. She settled 3 years ago on beautiful Bonaire and plans to stay here for many more years. We would also like to welcome Floor, Chris, Jack and Maaike to our team! You will find their story on our website soon!

 

We are all ready to dive in, how about you!?

Clean Up Dives, very successful!

Thank you to everyone who helped with the Dive Friends Bonaire Quarterly Clean Up Dive on October 20th and the Holiday Clean Up on December 27th. With the help of 101 amazing volunteers, Dive Friends Bonaire cleaned up along the harbour front in the center of Kralendijk; in effort to combat trash created by the Bonaire Regatta the weekend before. In this busy boating area, we collected 1,647 items of trash (roughly 510 kg), 403 glass bottles and approximately 328 meters of fishing line. The glass bottles were the most abundant item on this clean up dive. This issue is something Dive Friends Bonaire is looking to combat with our new glass recycling program.


Thanks to the collaboration between De Statiegeld B.V., Bonred and Selibon, the collected glass is no longer dumped on the landfill! In addition, there are our ‘statiegeld’ products, which are returned empty after use and will be returned to the country of origin. Here the crates and bottles will be recycled properly. For the residents/entrepreneurs on Bonaire it’s a small step, but the impact on Bonaire will be of great significance. We are proud supporters of this effort and you will be able to recycle all glass bottles at every one of our locations!

Join us on the next Clean Up Dive: 26th of January 2019!
Thank you to Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, Selibon N.V., STINAPA Bonaire and STINAPA Bonaire Junior Rangers for co-hosting the event. BIG thanks to sponsors: Project AWARE, La Cantina Bonaire, Supermarket Warehouse Bonaire, @Ikelight Bonaire, East Coast Diving, Caribbean Dive Trading, Bonaire Logistics and Foodies

 

New Photography Department!

PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN!

We’ve all had that before, right?! It is hard to describe to non-diving friends and family the thrill, beauty, wonder and excitement we find below the surface. Or how can we prove to our friends that we so totally saw that whale shark? For many, the closest we can get is by capturing our memories underwater with photos and videos, but so often we do not get the results we see with our eyes. The equipment is out there but it’s hard to know where or how to start!

Bonaire is the perfect place to start or advance your underwater photography. Her unique geography has created miles of leeward coastline with easy shore access and almost perfect dive conditions providing a perfect training ground! Que: Photography@ Dive Friends Bonaire!

NEW! Customized Photography Courses

Our photography department has been created to help share ours and your passion for Bonaire and capturing her beauty. Our customized courses help develop individual needs in their underwater photography. These are flexible and our photo instructor will work with you to develop your pictures the way you’d like to! Courses include a theory portion to provide increased understanding of a camera and photography concepts applied to the underwater realm.

You’ll have the chance to really learn how to dive with your camera, applying concepts learnt in the classroom on your dives. The dives begin with dialing in buoyancy before camera use. Mastering diving with a camera is essential to become a comfortable, confident and environmentally conscious underwater photographer. All diving portions of the course have a strong emphasis on a strict conservation code of conduct: no damage is worth a photo. By the end of the course we encourage manual use of camera and lighting, allowing you to have increased control over the images produced. It’s a lot of fun to start pushing yourself away from auto settings and really push the photos into manual!

Photography@ Dive Friends Bonaire offers rental cameras and hardware and lighting accessories; a selection of retail items, and a variety of courses from beginners up. Check the Photography Page on our website for all the details!

IDC 2019

We have planned our next IDC course to start on the 3rd of February 2019. We will start with a 2-day prep-course, followed by 9 days of the Instructor Development Course. The Exams are planned on the 14th and 15th of February 2019. Our IDC program not only trains you to become a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, it gives you the opportunity to become a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer right away! This is truly a life changing experience. Please contact us at info@divefriendsbonaire.com for more information or to sign up!

Coral Reef Research by Floris and Laura

Diving is fun! We could be cruising along the reef watching the wondrous marine life all day every day. Two divers who are often seen grabbing tanks at Dive Friends Bonaire are Laura and Floris, two biology students from Amsterdam. They dive with a slightly different purpose: research! Get to know them and their story in this blog. Thank you, Floris and Laura, for writing this!

“We are diving with Dive Friends while doing research for Wageningen Marine Research in cooperation with STINAPA. We’ve met a lot of divers, snorkelers and other kind people that were very interested in our project. It’s always nice to see that other people are interested in what you’re passionate about. So we were happy when we were asked to write something about our research.

As most divers probably noticed, coral reefs communities have changed a lot in the last couple of decades. Especially divers that have been diving for a long time might have seen a shift from coral-dominated reefs to algae-dominated reefs. Research suggest this is mostly because of different human activities including pollution, global warming and overfishing.

While most research only considered the shift from coral to algae, now there seems to be a “new” group that is quickly increasing in abundance and might be a problem: benthic cyanobacterial mats. I say “new” since they are not actually new on the reef. Cyanobacteria are, just like coral, fish and algae, an essential part of a healthy coral reef.

However, these same cyanobacteria can also form thick slimy mats and rapidly increase in abundance. In some places the cyanobacterial mats increased from less than 1% of the reef cover to over 20%. Cyanobacterial mats can suffocate coral or other organisms, inhibit coral settlement and they are known to act as coral pathogens. Pollution, increasing nutrient concentrations and the increase in water temperature are thought to be among the main drivers of the increase of these cyanobacterial mats. However, their dynamics as not entirely understood.

That’s why we started different experiments around the island to try to better understand what drives the observed increase in cyanobacteria and how their abundance changes throughout the season. We also try to understand where and how fast they grow. Gaining a better understanding of why and where cyanobacterial mats grow might help in managing these mats in the future and help to protect the reef.

If you see us working on one of the Dive Friends locations or on any of the other dive sites, feel free to ask any questions. We will be happy to tell you everything about our research in more detail!”