Home » Archives for Tess van den Broek » Page 2

Author: Tess van den Broek


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.


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!


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!”


News Splash August 2018

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!

IDC Live

As we speak, four divemasters are working very hard to become PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainers. The IDC (Instructor Development Course) at Dive Friends Bonaire is LIVE and will continue until Tuesday August 28th. On behalf of all Dive Friends crew, we wish Fenna, Vincent, Emma and Jim good luck (and good fun!) with the challenging theory and in water sessions. We look forward to celebrating with you!

Ocean Reef ITC

Ocean Reef develops integrated dive masks, also known as full-face masks. No more fogging or leaking of the mask, and the possibility to talk to your buddy underwater: this is the next generation of scuba diving! Several DFB instructors worked hard to become Ocean Reef instructor trainers, specialty instructors, and service technicians. As an Ocean Reef International Training Center, we offer IDM (full-face mask) Diver and Underwater Communications Diver specialty courses up to instructor level. If you’ve been thinking of trying out full-face mask diving, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Yellow Submarine

Divers who have been visiting our beloved Yellow Submarine dive center in the past months will undoubtedly have noticed some changes. The front desk, kitchen and office are completely renovated and by now, most of the dust clouds have been blown away by the strong Caribbean winds. Yellow Submarine is ready for high season! Special thanks to our construction worker Patrick for dedicating heaps of time and effort to this project, and to our crew for always lending a hand.


June and July brought many opportunities to promote ocean conservation amongst divers and island residents. On World Oceans Day, we got rid of plastic debris at Lagun together with STINAPA’s Junior Rangers. Our famous Quarterly Clean Up Dive was hosted in July, for which we were joined by 72 enthusiastic volunteers.

In the future, we will keep fighting for healthy coral reefs and ocean education. Corals are predicted to spawn towards the end of August, September and October. Keep an eye out not only for guided night dives but also for informative presentation evenings about this spectacular event!

Additionally, we’ll continue our battle against marine debris by cleaning up the ocean during Project AWARE week in September and the next Quarterly Clean Up Dive in October. Stay tuned!

Meet the Crew

We are your Dive Friends! Watch our brand new feature video to get acquainted with our crew and seven locations.

We are happy to welcome PADI instructors Jolanda and Kendrickson and divemasters Vincent and Patrick in our team. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Jack, Martijn, Angelica, Iris and Larry. Good luck on your future projects and hopefully we meet again!

Last but not least, congratulations to Mandy, Emma, Dylan and DFB crew members Vincent and Larissa for completing their divemaster course at Dive Friends. Henk and DFB crew member Jason are currently training to become a divemaster: good luck and many happy bubbles!

Clean Up Dive July 2018

The latest Dive Friends Bonaire Quarterly Cleanup Dive took place on Saturday July 28th. We cleaned up a very special location, namely the exclusive North Pier in the center of Kralendijk.


For the Dive Friends crew, the day started with setting up the tent, the tables and getting 100 tanks to the North Pier. The first enthusiastic participants showed up to join us in no time. By 9.45am, 72 divers had signed up to clean up! After an inspiring briefing from Clean Up Captain and DFB Instructor Caitlin about clean up guidelines, safety measures and the importance of taking good care of Bonaire’s beautiful coral reefs, everybody was ready to enter the water.

After about an hour dive people came back with mesh bags full of trash. The amount of trash surrounding the pier was enormous. The biggest challenge for this particular dive was physically taking the bags out of the water, because they were completely full.  The DFB crew assisted by taking the mesh bags allowing the divers to exit the water and get it counted at the trash collection point.  All the data collected from the cleanup dive is given to the Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program entering a GLOBAL DATABASE to help support the development and implementation of policies to improve solid waste management, both locally and globally.

We would like to give a big thank you to the people who removed debris from the beloved ocean, but also to those who helped the marine creatures that had accidentally been collected and returned them to the reef.

Roughly estimated the 72 divers removed:

  • 5 km (3.25 miles) of fishing line as well as 48 fishing sinkers and hooks! Fishing line is a serious threat to Bonaire’s sea turtles and other marine life.
  • 43% of what was removed was plastic; a whopping 143 plastic fragments
  • 304 glass bottles, glass and ceramic fragments
  • 36 items of clothing as well as 22 hats
  • 73 beverage cans
  • 63 carboard fragments
  • … and 12 credit cards!

The most notable items found during this clean up were a record player, a traffic cone, four metal chairs, and a road sign!

Later that evening everybody came together at Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis to celebrate the successful cleanup with a potluck barbecue.

Another big thank you goes out to all of our sponsors for this quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire Clean Up Dive. The divers thoroughly enjoyed the raffle prizes at the BBQ! We would like to thank Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, Selibon, Project Aware, 4 Oceans, Coco Palm Garden, Bonaire Harbor, Warehouse, Aquafun, Bonaire East Coast Diving, La Cantina, Caribbean Dive Trading, Palm Trading, Peter Jager, Susan Porter, Ocean Reef, and Treasure by the Sea!

We look forward to the next Quarterly Cleanup, which will take place on October 20th.

Not able to join? Visit your Dive Friends location to check the out the amazing PADI Specialty Dive Against Debris, or have a look at www.debrisfreebonaire.com to find out how you can still help us and Bonaire!



Teach. Live the Dream. Change Lives.

Upcoming Instructor Development Course: August 14th – 28th

Dive Friends offers great opportunities for those who would love to be diving all day, every day. Our eight-week divemaster internship allows you to make diving your profession and lets you experience what it’s like to work in the friendliest dive center in the Caribbean. And if you really, truly want to live the dream, your ultimate goal might well be to take the Instructor Development Course and become a dive instructor yourself.

In this blog, some of our dive instructors share their most memorable moments as a dive instructor.

From fearful to fearless. New divers, taking a breath underwater for the very first time, can be stressed. Some think they will never be able to complete a dive and are struggling to overcome anxiety. According to Nienke, the most valuable aspect of teaching people scuba diving is to watch these new divers overcome their fear, exchanging it for a calmness and wonder as they take in all there is to see on the reefs. Knowing that you have helped them turn their fear into a newfound hobby is priceless.

Future ocean ambassadors. As a dive instructor, you get to teach young children. Whenever Caitlin takes out an eight-year-old on a Bubblemaker course; or a ten-year-old on the first open water dive, the feeling of introducing them to a whole new world is amazing. Some kids return from a dive completely fascinated by the animals they’ve seen and with a new goal: “Save the planet”. As the dive instructor who introduces them to the ocean and all it has to offer, you are an important factor in creating a new generation of ocean ambassadors.

Share your passion. Diving is incredible and as a dive instructor you get to tell people this every day. One of Iris’ most memorable moments was when she took her own father on a Discover Scuba Dive.  Her dad discovered that he loved diving just as much as his daughter. For Iris, seeing his smile after his first dive was a very special moment. Being a dive instructor allows you to directly share your greatest passion with those closest to you.

Challenge yourself. Apart from diving every day, dive instructors have many opportunities to challenge themselves and expand their dive horizons. Ever since working as an instructor, Daniel has challenged himself more than he could ever have dreamt beforehand. Being in an environment with professional divers all around helped him a lot. It is very easy to get introduced to new ways of diving, such as sidemount diving and tech diving. As a dive instructor, you will always find new ways to explore the ocean and all its beauty.

The ocean as your home. Finally, divemaster Vincent has just completed his divemaster training with us. He will be one of the students doing the Instructor Development Course this summer. Why did he decide he wants to move forward and become a dive instructor? The answer is very simple. Teaching is rewarding, and you get to teach in the most beautiful place on earth: the ocean. Whether it’s the Caribbean Sea, the Indian Ocean, or the Pacific Ocean, you get to go to amazing locations that not many people get to go to.

Need more? We don’t think so. Start living the dream now!

News Splash | May 2018

May 2018 – Summer IDC at Dive Friends Bonaire!

Go Pro, protect the reef, feel the freedom, and capture your memories with Dive Friends Bonaire! Read all about the latest developments and exciting future plans in this News Splash.

Go Pro

We are very excited to announce our upcoming Instructor Development Course. From August 14th until August 28th 2018, you have the opportunity to become not only a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, but a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with five instructor specialties under your belt right away! Are you thinking about living the dream as a dive instructor? Contact us!

Protect the reef

We always aim to make a positive impact on the reef. The Debris Free Bonaire project has been relaunched. There are weekly cleanups on Tuesdays, 9am starting Dive Friends @ Courtyard by Marriott. Dedicate a small amount of your time to collect plastic and marine debris from Bonaire’s east coast and make a positive impact on the environment!

Dive Friends Bonaire is a proud partner of Sunscreen Awareness Bonaire: stop using sunscreens with Oxybenzone! Instead, use sunscreens with a combination of zinc and titanium for the sake of protecting Bonaire’s coral reefs.

We hosted another Quarterly Clean Up Dive in April! With 63 volunteers, we cleaned up along the harbourfront in Kralendijk. It was a huge success and we can’t wait for the next Quarterly Clean Up Dive on July 21st.


Feel the Freedom

Together with Carlos Coste, 12x World Record Freediver, Dive Friends Bonaire now offers the Discover Freediving Experience. Every Monday, from 3pm to 5pm, you have the opportunity to get your first taste of freediving and make the first step towards exploring an entirely new world. Be sure to meet us at our Courtyard by Marriott location!

Capture your memories

Learn how to dive with a camera in the Dive Friends Photography Centre! Soon, we will be offering select rental, retail, and individually shaped courses supported by Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo at our Courtyard by Marriott location. Whether you want to try before you buy, pull the trigger on a camera, or dial yourself in; we’re here to help! Divers will have the opportunity to set themselves up to be confident and comfortable diving the reef with a camera in their hand.

Meet the crew

Finally, we want to take a moment to welcome our newest crew members into the Dive Friends Family: Guus and Sybrand, who we hope will enjoy working here as much as the rest of us! We are also very happy to have two hardworking divemaster trainees in our midst: Vincent and Mandy. Good luck on your training! Finally, we would like to congratulate the divemasters that recently completed their training with us: Eddy, Christian, An and Donovan. Happy bubbles!

Excited to come and experience all this for yourself? We can’t wait to go diving with you! See you soon!