Caribbean whales, dolphins and sharks

This video says about itself:

Whales in the Caribbean off Antigua and Barbuda

Humpback whales pass through the island chain each year giving those of us doing tours and charters something to look forward to. Yesterday we switched off the engines in very still conditions and had the pleasure of spending over 30 minutes with a mother and her calf. Some of the passengers on the boat couldn’t be held back and went over to snorkel with them. We made sure to keep good distance, but the inquisitive whales came very close to us to give us a good look.

Researchers of IMARES Wageningen UR in the Netherlands report about airplane based research, early November this year, in the Caribbean, in the sea around Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao islands.

From the plane, they saw humpback whales, common bottlenose dolphins and rough-toothed dolphins. Also marine mammals which might be either Atlantic spotted dolphins, or pantropical spotted dolphins. These two species look very much alike from the air.

They saw sea turtles, rays and birds as well.

A whale shark was seen north of Aruba; and a basking shark north of Curaçao.

Illegal Dutch spying on Caribbean politicians

This video is called Bonaire Wildlife.

Unfortunately, not everything on Bonaire is so beautiful.

Translated from in the Netherlands:

November 21, 2013 13:11

Politicians of Bonaire illegally spied on by AIVD”

Between 2005 and 2010, politicians in Bonaire were illegally spied on by the Dutch intelligence service AIVD.

These politicians negotiated at that time with the Dutch government about joining the Netherlands, NRC Handelsblad daily wrote on Thursday.

The AIVD could only perform intelligence and security operations on Bonaire, if they had permission for this purpose. This permission had to come from the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles or on behalf of the head of her own intelligence service.

The then Prime Minister Emily de Jongh-Elhage tells NRC, however, that she knew nothing about this. “This startles me,” said De Jongh-Elhage to NRC Handelsblad.

Dutch anti-privacy spying bill: here.

Caribbean reforestation wildlife news

This vido is called Bonaire Wildlife.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) on Monday 9 September 2013:

In 2000, CARMABI launched a reforestation project on Klein Curaçao. Preliminary results inspired a similar project on Klein Bonaire, which began in 2006. The ecosystems on both islands are showing promising results. During visits in June and July 2013 to both islands, Dr. Dolfi Debrot from the IMARES Wageningen University Research Center, described the results as “astounding”. On Klein Curaçao, more than ten native plant species have been reintroduced and are successfully reproducing and on Klein Bonaire large specimen of fruit-bearing trees can be found again which will provide a food source for birds that have not been observed on the island for years.

Continuously doused in salt spray, battered by trade winds and subject to arid limestone soil and scorching sun, Klein Curaçao, with its small size (70 hectares or 173 acres) and flat surface, is one of the most barren landscapes in the southern Caribbean region.

Grazing by feral goats has been a predominant problem on both islands for over a hundred years, but whereas on Klein Curaçao the original native tree vegetation had totally disappeared due to phosphate mining and overgrazing, on Klein Bonaire (600 hectares or 1,490 acres) the ecosystem suffered severely from wood-cutting for charcoal.

When in 1996 the government of Curaçao secured the grazing rights on Klein Curaçao, the emaciated livestock was removed from the island and this cleared the way for CARMABI to arrange several replanting campaigns between 2000 and 2009. The goal was to reintroduce native beach vegetation and pioneering plant species so as to jump-start the reestablishment of natural habitats on this once densely vegetated island. On Klein Bonaire, in 2006, 2007 and 2009, STINAPA Bonaire and CARMABI have planted native tree species, such as ‘Watakeli’ (Bourreria succulenta), ‘Mansaliña Bobo’ (Metopium brownei), and Myrcia curassavica, which have all but been lost from the island. The results of both reforestation projects are quite remarkable considering the extremely dry climate and barren environment especially on Klein Curaçao. This offers high hopes for other islands in the southern Caribbean region with similar problems and climates.

The focus on Bonaire was firstly on plants that are low in number and under threat of becoming locally extinct (such as the native Sabal palm (Sabal causuarium) and the rare endemic tree Myrcia curassavica) and secondly on plants that play a significant ecological role as a fruit or flower source for birds or other fauna, such as ‘Watakeli’ (Bourreria succulenta), ‘Mansaliña Bobo’ (Metopium brownei), ‘Palu di Huku’ (Jacquinia arborea) and ‘Palu di Rhambèshi’ (Sideroxylon obovatum). On Klein Curaçao, the harsh climate caused a large part of reintroduced plants to perish before taking root, but hundreds of planted trees and shrubs managed to grow to a considerable size. The most abundant tree species is the ‘Mangel Blanku’ or Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus), a mangrove-like tree of which several specimen are larger than four metres high and of which seedlings and young trees are widely spread on the island. The removal of the goats from the island has given ground-covering species a chance to flourish and has resulted in extensive grass fields, dominated by ‘Korta-Man’ (Cyperus planifolius). The most abundant shrub species is the Sea Lavender (Mallotonia gnaphalodes), locally known as ‘Tabako di Piskado’, growing predominantly along the beaches, just like the locally endangered Beachberry (Scaevola plumieri), which, on Curaçao, is only found on Klein Curaçao. During the assessment, flowers, seeds and seedlings of 16 of the reintroduced species were recorded, which means that these species are already reproducing self-sufficiently in different parts of the island.

Similar results have been obtained for Klein Bonaire where now mature ‘Palu di Huku’ (Jacquinia arborea), ‘Watakeli’ (Bourreria succulenta), ‘Mansaliña Bobo’ (Metopium brownei), ‘Lumbra Blanku’ (Erithalis fruticosa) and ‘Uña di Gatu’ (Pithecellobium unguis-cati) trees were found blossoming and already carrying fruits. These trees enrich the vegetation and produce food for endangered bird species during the dry season. In the past, the Scaly-naped Pigeon (Patagioenas squamosa) and the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot (Amazona barbadensis) occurred on the island, but they have disappeared over the decades. Since the reforestation efforts ended in 2009, some Scaly-naped Pigeons have started to return to the island and hopefully before long the Yellow-shouldered Amazon will follow.

Plants form the driving force of an ecosystem and without plants the biodiversity usually remains low. The fact that plants are starting to do well on Klein Curaçao again has even led to the appearance of native butterfly species on the island. The small Gray Ministreak (Ministrymon azia) now occurs along the entire west coast of the island and during other seasons the blue Hemiargus hanno and the brown Bubastus Hairstreak (Strymon bubastus) appear on the island. The native bird the Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) was also introduced (three individuals) but has since disappeared from Klein Curaçao around two years ago. However, the endemic Striped Anole (Anolis linearis), an insectivore tree lizard, of which more than 30 were re-introduced to the island, seems to fare well in this environment.

These projects demonstrate that, once the threats have been addressed, with the right choice of species, locations, planting techniques and timing, it is possible to begin reforesting an ecosystem with very limited resources. Natural phenomena like shade, leaf litter and shelter from wind can once again be found on Klein Curaçao, which also provides a chance for the more vulnerable plant species to develop. In turn, the roots of the developing vegetation help keep the soil in place and prevent erosion. The re-emerging ecosystem helps to hold sand in place to prevent erosion and will help protect Klein Curaçao in the face of climate change and sea level rise.

These reforestation projects give testimony to the devastating effect of grazing by feral goats, but also show that when measures are taken to control grazing, the indigenous flora and fauna can quickly bounce back, especially when given a helping hand.

Parrots of Bonaire island

This video is called Parrot Protection on Bonaire.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), Thursday 29 August 2013:

Outside of Venezuela, Bonaire is home to the only surviving native population of Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrots (Amazona barbadensis), locally known as the Lora. While global numbers of the parrot are declining, locally the parrot population is showing signs of recovery thanks to the combined efforts of conservation organisations and the local government. While conservationists enjoy seeing more parrots on the island, not everyone finds this as a good thing. Limited food supply in the wild causes increasing numbers of parrots to feed on fruit trees in gardens and ‘kunukus’ (little countryside farmlands). The resulting conflict has the potential to undermine conservation efforts. Bonaire’s situation is by no means unique; conflict between parrots and people is an issue throughout the Caribbean.

Habitat loss and degradation is the underlying cause of parrot/human conflict. Where there used to be fruit trees, there are now houses. Historic tree felling has caused the loss of species that served as the parrot’s staple food resource, including Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum officinale), West Indian Satinwood (Zanthoxylum flavum) and Hog Plum (Spondias mombin), even from the rural parts of the island. This loss has been compounded by large-scale grazing by feral goats and donkeys, and more recently feral pigs. A historic lack of grazing herbivores on Bonaire means trees have not evolved the required defences to allow them to withstand or recover from grazing pressure. Seedlings are not able to mature to fruit-bearing trees, resulting in low food availability for the parrots in rural areas all across the island.

Echo, Bonaire’s parrot conservation organisation, is studying the pressures experienced by breeding and non-breeding adult parrots on Bonaire. For conservation to be effective, it is imperative to know exactly what is happening within the population, otherwise high adult survival might mask poor juvenile recruitment, or vice versa. This is especially the case with long-lived species like the Lora. Lora lifespan in the wild is not known, but estimates are between 40 and 60 years old. Understanding population dynamics over this time period forms a key part of Echo’s research. With a good understanding of pre-fledging survival through previous research, Echo is now focused on post-fledging and adult survival.

In addition to understanding population dynamics, Echo is monitoring the use of rural and urban habitat by the Lora. Observations indicate that parrots prefer to feed in rural areas, but in case of low food availability they are forced to migrate into urban areas. Furthermore, given that the urban-foraging parrots hang around the urban areas most of the day, the Echo team suspect that those individuals are largely non-breeding parrots. Breeding parrots show more active behaviour flying up and down to their nests to feed their chicks.

With research-driven conservation and outreach, Echo will ensure that Bonaire’s Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot population can continue to increase. Future projects will see the development of ‘parrot tours’ with local residents, enabling the inhabitants of Bonaire to realise the economic value of their parrot, as well as the development of Echo’s Dos Pos Conservation Centre, to allow residents and visitors alike to experience Lora encounters in Bonaire’s unique nature.

Read the entire article in Bionews, August 2013.

Hawskbill turtle research on Bonaire

This video is called Hawksbill Sea Turtle at 1000 Steps Reef in Bonaire, August, 2012.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), Tuesday 27 August 2013:

In an attempt to learn more about the behavioural patterns and habitat use of Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) at Lac Bay, Bonaire, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) performed abundance surveys and, with funding from Wageningen IMARES UR, deployed dataloggers on the carapace of four Hawksbill turtles in 2012.

Three of these dataloggers were retrieved by the end of 2012 and showed some valuable results. In January 2013, one more Hawksbill was fitted with a datalogger and that one has been retrieved in July and is being analysed now. A preliminary assessment of the data seems to confirm the patterns found with the other three turtles.

The dataloggers are programmed to record depth every five seconds and obtain GPS coordinates whenever the animal comes up to the surface to breathe. The three dataloggers already recovered in 2012 were analysed and yielded detailed data on Hawksbill behaviour in and around Lac Bay, revealing that these turtles regularly move in and out of the bay. When outside the bay, the animals adhere to a diurnal pattern of resting at night and activity during the day. When inside Lac, such a diurnal pattern is more difficult to perceive due to the shallow waters and limitations concerning depth resolution of the dataloggers, but it appears that a similar pattern is maintained.

Of particular interest to STCB researchers is this new evidence that Hawksbills appear to reside inside Lac Bay and feed where dense seagrass beds are and near the mangroves, presumably eating organisms, such as sponges, associated with the seagrass stands and the mangrove roots. It remains unclear whether Hawksbills actually enter the mangroves to any extent.

Text: Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB).

Bonaire invasive seagrass species

This video says about itself:

Wildlife in Bonaire. HD movie with iguana (drinking and falling from tree), flamingo, pelican, parrot, caracara: October 2011.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), on Monday 12 August 2013:

Lac Bay, Bonaire, is well known for its unique habitats that contain seagrass beds across the entire shallow bay and dense mangrove forests further inland. The seagrass beds form a vital part of the ecosystem of Lac Bay, serving as foraging ground for sea turtles, conch and other animals, nursery ground for various fish species, and beach protection as a ‘sediment sink’, keeping sand in place. They even help with the reduction of greenhouse gases, something that is often failed to mention.

For the Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas), one of Bonaire’s flagship conservation species, the seagrass beds of Lac Bay form their most important food source. The conch do not eat the actual leaves of the seagrass, but the epiphytes growing on it and the dead organic material. There is a direct correlation between the biomass of the Turtle Grass (Thalassia testudinum) and the abundance of the Queen Conch.

As early as 1969, Wagenaar Hummelinck and Roos mention the occurrence of four native species of seagrass in Lac Bay: Thalassia testudinum, Syringodium filiforme, Diplanthera wrightii (actual name: Halodule wrightii) and Ruppia maritima. Their study brought forth a rough distribution map. Moorsel and Meijer performed a baseline study of Lac in 1993 and found that H. wrightii was no longer present. However, monitoring efforts for STINAPA Bonaire by Cindy Lott in 1999, and also by Sabine Engel in 2007, showed that this was not the case and H. wrightii has not gone extinct within the confounds of the shallow water bay.

Under the banner of the Conch Restoration Project, seagrass monitoring in Lac Bay was continued in 2010, and immediately the presence of a new species, Halophila stipulacea, was noted. This invasive alien species originates from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, and was first discovered in the Caribbean region in 2003 near Grenada. From that moment it has rapidly expanded its distribution and is now found throughout the entire Caribbean region.

Every new introduction of an invasive alien species warrants close monitoring, and in this case, given the local importance of the Queen Conch, even more so. Questions are raised as to what this new invasive species will mean for Lac Bay and Bonaire as a whole. Will sea turtles and conch forage on its beds, and will it eventually outcompete the other seagrasses?

Monitoring efforts estimated the cover of the five species of seagrass by counting their presence in 46 permanent quadrats evenly spread over the entire area of Lac Bay. The initial survey in 2010 showed a mean cover of H. stipulacea at almost 6% and the latest survey in 2013 showed a dramatic increase to over 14%, which coincided with a general decrease of all native seagrass species. R. maritima prefers more hypersaline waters, so it is only found at the outer borders of Lac Bay, an area not covered in both surveys.

Mean cover four seagrass species in 2011 and 2013 (figure: DCNA)

Literature shows that one of the reasons H. stipulacea manages to take over new territory so fast is anchoring, however, this cannot be the case in Lac Bay, where anchoring is forbidden. Lac Bay is not the only place on Bonaire where the invasive seagrass is observed. It has also been found in Lagoen and at the entrance of Pekelmeer, which is a restricted Ramsar site, so anchoring here is out of the question, and right outside Lac on the reef at a depth of 10 metres. So far it has not been reported off the west coast of Bonaire.

During the surveys there was a lot of floating plant debris found in the water column, such as algae and (parts of) several seagrass species. The difference between the floating material of H. stipulacea and the native species is that where the other species mostly show detached leaves, parts of the leaves or rhizomes (i.e. the connecting subterranean roots), the invasive H. stipulacea shows complete plants with leaves, stems and rhizomes all attached.

Although the Conch Restoration Project is coming to an end, the interest in and concern for H. stipulacea will not. Monitoring efforts will continue with the support of STINAPA, starting with Tineke van Bussel, intern at the Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, who will be looking into seagrass productivity and competition in Lac Bay.

Text: Sabine Engel

Bonaire sea turtles: here.

Save Bonaire conch shells

This 2013 video from Florida in the USA is called Waterways Episode 209: Queen Conch and Gulf Pipefish.

Another video from the USA used to say about itself:

Florida Keys Queen Conch Transplant Part 1 – WATERWAYS

The Queen Conch is a symbol of Key West as well as a barometer for marine and reef health. On the endangered species list, the Florida Marine Research Institute staff transplant Queen Conch in an attempt to increase the reproduction of this mollusk, once common to Florida waters.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), Sunday 11 Augustus 2013:

The Conch Restoration Project in Lac Bay, Bonaire, was part of a three-year, IUCN awarded initiative funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, called “What if We Change”, which aimed to demonstrate ecosystem restoration in action around the world. Now at an end, the project produced a ton of data and many new insights into the species, its behaviour and habitat. The intention was to allow Bonairean fishermen to become the custodians of their own fishing resources and to improve the ecosystem throughout the bay.

The focus of the project has been on the species itself, the Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas) and its primary habitat, the seagrass beds. However, soon after the start of the project, the researchers started to comprehend that the surrounding mangrove forest also plays a very important role. Mangrove forests are a dynamic ecosystem in the coastal zone, with a distinct zonation in species ranging from Red Mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) near the low tide line to Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans), White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) and Buttonwood (Conococarpus erectus) more inland.

Land reclamation by growing mangrove forests and die-off of mangroves further inland at Lac Bay are natural phenomena. Yet, the rate at which this is happening on Bonaire, is exceptionally high. In just over 35 years, 81 hectares of what used to be open bay, has now become new mangrove forest, while at the same time, further inland, almost the same amount was lost (82 hectares). Overall, the mangrove forest seems to be moving towards the sea and since the central bay of Lac together with the semi-enclosed ponds only cover a little over 400 hectares, the consequence at Lac Bay is that this movement will be at the expense of the seagrass beds, which is critical habitat for conch.

There are several processes influencing growth and die-off of mangroves, such as salinification, inundation, sedimentation and eutrophication. In order to find out which processes are the main drivers in Lac Bay, student researchers Iris Vreugdenhil and Tatiana Lodder of Wageningen University have done fieldwork in Lac Bay from October 2012 to January 2013. Presently, the collected data are being analysed and their thesis reports are being finalised.

The research focused on the effect of increased salinity, anaerobic conditions and nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations on the two most important mangrove species, R. mangle and A. germinans. Since April 2010, tidal gauges have been installed in and around Lac to study the hydrological conditions. Additional dataloggers have been installed, and at most of these stations time series for salinity and dissolved oxygen have been collected. The locations for these dataloggers have been chosen based on the IMARES study by Davaasuren and Meesters in 2012 on mangroves using satellite imagery and accessibility of the area. The time series, together with soil physical data and mangrove vegetation data, will be used to model the growth of the species.
Additionally, niche differentiation of the four mangrove species under abiotic influences has been studied. The project focused on the effects of inundation time, salinity and nutrient resources on the growth of the four mangrove species occurring at Lac. Three types of forest have been studied: R. mangle forest, A. germinans, and a mixed plot of A. germinans, L. racemosa and C. erectus. Nutrients (N/P/K) of soil and leaves have been measured and other growth and vegetation characteristics have been studied, such as leaf mass per area (LMA) and leaf area index (LAI). The findings of both projects will be published in two reports in the near future.

Text: Sabine Engel

Bonaire coral reef research expedition

This video is called Bonaire Reef – 10 minutes of non-looped footage.

From Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands:

Deep Reef Bonaire Expedition I

29 May 2013

From 30 May until June 3 2013 the deep reef of Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands, will be explored for the very first time. Erik Meesters and Lisa Becking from IMARES Wageningen UR will board the ‘Curasub’ submarine, based at the Curaçao Sea Aquarium, to go down to depths of 300 m. The shallow reefs of the Caribbean are considered a ‘biodiversity-hotspot’, an area with exceptional diversity of plants, animals and ecosystems. Yet surprisingly little is known about the flora and fauna of the deep reefs. It is expected that many new species to science will be found at these practically unexplored depths. The Ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ) has commissioned research institute IMARES to study the deeper reef as part of the exclusive Economic Zone management plan for the Dutch Caribbean.

The exploration will go beyond the zone that is exposed to sunlight and permits photosynthesis, the photic zone (+/- 200 m). Beyond that zone creatures have found a solution to life in the dark as well as to great pressure from a bulk of water. Using cameras and collecting biological specimens they will document this fascinating ecosystem and its unique biodiversity.

The collected species will be identified by taxonomists of the Zeeteam at Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the state of the art molecular lab of Naturalis will generate “DNA-barcodes” to facilitate the identification. Detmer Sipkema, microbiologist at Wageningen University, will assess the microscopic diversity of microbes that are key to a variety of ecological processes.

The aim of the expedition is to gain a first assessment of the biodiversity of the deep reef of Bonaire. This information is essential to adequately protect the ecosystem and construct sustainable management plans. In order to protect biodiversity, we need to know what is down there and to gain an understanding what processes keep it in place. This expedition is the first dive into the unknown world of the deep reefs of Bonaire.

See also here. And here.

What are apicomplexans? Our coral expert shares some of his research on these micro-critters that live in reefs: here.

More coral reef research: here.

Caribbean bats discovery

By Clifford de Lannoy MSc, Carmabi foundation in Curaçao:

It was on January 15th 2013, during a bat research session in one of the important bat caves on the eastern part of the island of Curaçao, that local bat researchers of ABC-islands’ Bat Protection Program or PPR-ABC (PAP: Programa pa Protehé Ratonnan di Anochi di islanan ABC) captured and released two individuals of the Curaçaoan Long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae), which were previously tagged on Bonaire.

Curaçaoan long-nosed bat (picture: Jafet M. Nassar)

Curaçaoan long-nosed bat (picture: Jafet M. Nassar)

This finding signifies a major breakthrough in understanding the population dynamics of this key species in northern South America, and especially in the case of the ABC-islands. After more than 4 years of continuous work on Bonaire and 1 year of work on Curaçao and Aruba, we got the first two animals that show a behavior that could be common for the species in this set of islands: they can switch islands for food by flying across the sea. The Curaçaoan long-nosed bats are together with the Miller’s long-tongued bats (Glossophaga longirostris), the main pollinators of all columnar cacti on the islands, which in turn are a major food source for the local terrestrial fauna. Later that week another tagged bat from Bonaire was caught in the most western major cave of the island (Kueba Bosa 3). Could these mammalian pollinators be travelling to Aruba too?!

Curaçao harbors a total of 9 species (including the two previously mentioned pollinator species) of bats that feed on nectar, insects, fruits and even fish.

The current bat research activities conducted on Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire and northern Venezuela are part of a long-term Bat Research and Conservation Plan designed and conducted under the coordination of four institutions: Arikok National Park Foundation in Aruba, Carmabi Foundation in Curaçao, Stinapa Bonaire in Bonaire, and Insituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC) in Venezuela. A specific component of this plan is to acquire more knowledge on the population dynamics of the Curaçaoan long-nosed bat. Previous research conducted by Carmabi and international bat researcher Sophie Petit on the major bat caves of Curaçao in the previous decades showed heavy seasonal fluctuations in population sizes of mainly the Long-nosed bat. Sometimes normally densely populated caves were found totally empty. Until last Tuesday, it was only hypothesized that these bats might travel between the ABC-islands and the possibly the Paraguaná peninsula (northwestern Venezuela). The capture of the Bonairean bats confirmed that, at least, there is connection between the populations of this species inhabiting Bonaire and Curaçao.

The Curaçao team together with bat specialists (picture: Jafet M. Nassar)

The Curaçao team together with bat specialists (picture: Jafet M. Nassar)

The bats have been tagged by ringing them on their forearm with coded aluminum rings. The code constitutes the initials of the bat specialist supervising the project, Jafet M. Nassar, the initial letter of the island where the bat was marked, followed by a unique number that reflects the number of bats ringed on each island. Lepto JNB 0577 was ringed 2.5 years ago and Lepto JNB 2046 was ringed in November 2011 on Bonaire. Although this finding constitutes a major breakthrough for the study of bats on the ABC islands, many critical questions about the bat species inhabiting the islands still remain unanswered and continued research on all three islands and Venezuela is necessary to understand and protect these very important and threatened mammals in this part of the Caribbean

For more information and nice pictures visit PPR-ABC Curacao-team Facebook page: Bat Conservation Curacao.

Arizona Bat Update–November 2013: here.

Green turtle named after actress Carice van Houten

This video is called Green Turtle Swimming in Bonaire.

Carice van Houten

From the WWF, translated from Dutch:

Follow the journey of sea turtle Carice

September 29, 2010 10:42

A big surprise for Carice van Houten! Last week on Bonaire, a critically endangered green sea turtle after having laid a nest of eggs, was provided with a transmitter and named after the Dutch actress. As an ambassador of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Carice van Houten last week came to visit the island to call attention to the special nature in this area. The journey by the turtle Carice can be accessed via

The reason for the visit of the Dutch actress is the fact that Bonaire on October 10 will become a special municipality of the Netherlands. For this occasion the WWF has recorded a documentary which will be shown on October 11 at 20.30 Central European Time at National Geographic Channel: Carice van Houten in the Dutch Caribbean. The documentary shows how Carice van Houten herself witnessed the hatching of a turtle nest.

The green sea turtle Carice landed on Sept. 20 to Playa Chikitu in Washington Slagbaai National Park. Employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) and the WWF then put a transmitter on the carapace of the animal. The turtle, which is over one hundred centimeter long and which is 100kg heavy, is not affected by the transmitter when swimming. With the transmitter on her back, people will be able to follow the tour of the Caribbean Sea by Carice online now.

Conservationists expect that the female turtle in about a week time will come ashore to lay eggs again. People who want to watch Carice should register at the site of the STCB for the news update (bottom of homepage).

Bonaire, almost twice as large as Texel, for almost 90 percent is nature. The coral reefs around the island are among the most breathtaking in the Caribbean. The reefs not only provide food and protection to much marine life, but are also a paradise for divers. Coral fish, flamingos, queen conch snails, four species of sea turtles and even dolphins, are just some of the species to be admired there. Carice van Houten allows the spectator to meet these wonderful plant and animal species that are present on the seabed between the reefs and mangrove forests.

Diving tourists

Precisely because of all this extraordinary natural beauty, tourism is one of the most important resources for Bonaire. But without any nature, there can be no tourism. Carice van Houten shows how Bonaire is doing everything to become the first sustainable island economy in the world. The initial steps have already been made in 1979. Then, in collaboration with WWF, Bonaire National Marine Park was established to protect the coastal marine area of Bonaire. Diving tourists pay a fee to be allowed to visit the park. Revenues are used for the management and maintenance of nature. Today the diving tourism provides about one thousand permanent jobs and the park can pay its own way.

Actress Carice van Houten, known among other films from Black Book, Valkyrie, and Stricken, has worked since 2009 as ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Bonaire’s Resilient Reefs Offer Hope for Dying Corals: here.

October 2010: All three species of sea turtles that nest regularly on Florida’s beaches had annual nest counts well above average for the previous ten years, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC): here.

Birds of St. Eustatius: here.

Thousands of marine turtles slaughtered in Madagascar for food – here.

Mexican authorities recorded a total of 42.2 million olive ridley, leatherback and Kemp’s ridley sea turtle births during the 2010-2011 nesting season, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat said: here.

Researchers: Weather, ‘Climate Change’ To Impact Leatherback Turtle Survival; ‘Clear Link’: here.