The past two days have been full of diving but I will do my best to give each dive a just analysis! The other day I joined Woody on my deepest dive ever! We went out to the reef and descended along the wall, continuing until we reached 100 ft. (My dive computer said 97, but close enough!) Since the visibility is phenomenal in Bonaire, you don’t realize just how deep you really are until you look up and see the endless column of water above your head. It was a short dive, given the depth, but we had a long safety stop in shallower water, while simultaneously checking out the marine life on the reef. After surfacing and having lunch with Rowan and Bryson-Bell, I joined the adults on a boat dive on the southern part of the island! We took the Buddy Dive boat along the coast and got geared up to go in the water. Two very kind guests, Murray and Dale were my dive buddies and we stayed fairly shallow along the Bonaire shelf but saw a plethora of marine life. Pipefish, parrotfish, triggerfish, grouper, palometa, grunts, squirrelfish, chromis, sergeant majors, hogfish and wrasse are just a few of the species we encountered! We even saw THREE hawksbill sea turtles in the shallows that came up for air at the same time! Back at the boat, I snorkeled in the shallows with more of the guests until we headed back to the boat.
Back at Kids Sea Camp, we had the afternoon to rest up and I helped the instructors watch some of the kids jumping off the wall into the water below. That night Woody and I completed our first night dive in Bonaire! Woody uses an alternate light source at night that illuminates the reef with a blue UV light. With a filter over your mask you can see the luminous organisms on the reef. Many coral, anemone and tubeworms glow a vibrant yellow-green color however some even appear bright orange and red! We descended to about forty feet along the shelf and were followed by massive tarpons, which used our lights to hunt with. They would encircle us and wait until we moved our lights to feed. We did our best to not illuminate any of the sleeping fish because the tarpon would use it to their advantage. I also encountered a large moon jelly pulsating in the water column offshore that was drifting in the currents along with the countless other marine plankton that migrate up from the depths each night to feed. What a successful day of diving!
The next morning I joined the Kids Sea Camp team on an easy shore dive off the resort observing one of the wrecks that had sunk along the shelf. It’s a small schooner that is capsized on the reef, however it has been completely covered in corals and it’s difficult to discern where the reef starts and the boat ends because of all the encrusting corals. The kids enjoyed the dive and the instructors did a great job of showing them the area and accounting for their safety. We came back along the north part of the reef and went through the underwater vertical coral farm established by the Coral Restoration Foundation, which I’m hoping to dive with this week! We then dried off and had lunch before heading to the Bonaire Donkey Sanctuary (Yes, you read that correctly, a Donkey Sanctuary). We loaded up the vans and drove across the island to the sanctuary, which was established for the hundreds of wild donkey’s that roam the island whose ancestors were brought by early explorers. Driving through the island we saw the parched landscape and the dry scrub. Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are known as the “ABC” islands and they are all off the coast of Venezuela and have notoriously dry climates compared to other parts of the Caribbean. However, they are all currently in the midst of a mega-drought. Rainfall patterns have shifted over the last few decades and the islands are struggling with the persistent lack of rain. The sanctuary is home to over seven hundred donkeys, which freely roam the grounds, and visitors can drive though and feed them! We wen through the sanctuary in the Buddy Dive vans and the kids all reached out the windows with bits of bread for the donkeys that quickly had enveloped our van! We then continued on to the downtown and I joined the Tinsley’s for some gelato!