Coral Reef Research on the West Coast of Bonaire

The past few months, a research team from Wageningen Marine Research (previously known as ‘IMARES’) from The Netherlands has been working together with STINAPA to survey the coral reefs along Bonaire’s leeward side. The team included Sarah, Yun, Roger and Sil.

At 115 dive sites, the team investigated the corals, fish, sea urchins and excavating sponges along transects at five and ten meters depth. If you are familiar with the present-day reefs of Bonaire, these two depths might seem a tad shallow: most fun dives are now often done at around twenty meters depth. However, in the past, Bonaire’s corals used to flourish at five meters, where light and other environmental conditions are optimal for maximum coral reef growth. Various hypotheses exist as to why the shallow reef areas have seen such a decline, but a combination of multiple factors is most likely the reason.

With the data that the team gathered on this trip, they will measure the reef health with multiple methods, such as the ReefBudget Method and the Reef Health Index. They will also create an overview of the coral and fish communities along the island, and look at the variation of these between different areas. With this information, they hope to determine the current state of Bonaire’s reefs and help prevent any further decline.

With weights, tanks and other support of Dive Friends Bonaire, we had a great time and successful survey!