Curaçao Caribbean marine life, video


Jesper Buursink made this video, 105 meter under the Caribbean sea surface, near Curaçao island. On the right, a Caribbean chicken-liver sponge. In the center, a moray eel and a red lionfish.

Save our sharks, Curaçao


This 21 October 2015 video, recorded in Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, shows shark researcher Ms Georgina Wiersma. She told about the ‘Save our sharks’ project of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance. It is about conservation for the sharks swimming around the Caribbean islands Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten.

Save our sharks, Curaçao

This photo shows Tadzio Bervoets, Irene Kingma and Frensel Mercelina of Save our sharks in Curaçao. They were interviewed this morning on Dutch Vroege Vogels radio.

They aim at better protection for fish species swimming around Curaçao; like Caribbean reef sharks, lemon sharks and eagle rays.

This video is called Jonathan Bird examines one of the world’s most photographed–yet least studied–sharks, the Caribbean Reef shark.

Curaçao author and pro-independence fighter Frank Martinus Arion, RIP


Frank Martinus Arion

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Writer Frank Martinus Arion dies

Today, 16:09

The Dutch Antillean writer Frank Martinus Arion (78) has died. He died last night after a brief illness at the hospital in Willemstad.

Arion wrote in Dutch and Papiamento. His most famous book is Dubbelspel (Double Play), his first novel from 1973. …

Arion was the doyen of literature in Curaçao, says correspondent Dick Drayer. He was politically active and supported the independence struggle. He was also an advocate of Papiamento. On the origins of this language, he wrote a thesis on which he graduated at the University of Amsterdam.

In 2008 he gave his royal medal back in protest against the “recolonization process” by the Netherlands. He felt that the Dutch government interfered too much in Curaçao.

New fish species discovery in Caribbean


Coryphopterus curasub, photo by Carole Baldwin and Ross Robertson/Smithsonian Institution

From Science, Space & Robots:

New Goby Fish Found in Southern Caribbean

Scientists from the Smithsonian Institution have discovered a previously unknown species of goby fish in the southern Caribbean. The small goby fish has different colors than its relatives. It is also located at greater depths and was found using the Curasub submersible.

The new species was found at a depth of 70 to 80 meters. The 33 mm (1.3 inch) long goby species has been named Coryphopterus curasub after the submersible used to discover it. The goby fish was found by Drs. Carole Baldwin and Ross Robertson.

The scientists say much less is known about ocean life at depths just below those accessible with conventional SCUBA gear. New discoveries like this goby fish are being made thanks to the availability of submersibles.

Dr. Baldwin says in a statement, “This is the fourth new deep-reef fish species described in two years from Curasub diving off Curacao. Many more new deep-reef fish species have already been discovered and await description, and even more await discovery.”

A research paper on the goby fish can be found here in the journal, ZooKeys.

July 22, 2015

Curaçao sea turtle conservation


This video is about a sea turtle swimming near Curaçao.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA):

Six species of sea turtles are found in the waters surrounding the Dutch Caribbean islands with regular nesting activity occurring annually on the sandy beaches of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. Because sea turtles undertake remarkably long transboundary migrations and because they are slow to reach sexual maturity (20 – 30 years), they require significant international cooperation and long-term monitoring in order to best understand their population trends.

Once amazingly abundant, Caribbean sea turtles have seen a rapid decline since the time of European expansion in the Americas. Scientists estimate that in the 1600s, over 90 million Green Turtles were present the Caribbean seas. Today the number is estimated at a mere 300,000. Hawksbills have plunged 99.7% from 11 million to 30,000. Fishing gear entanglement, illegal harvesting, coastal development, marine pollution and climate change still remain serious threats to the recovery of global sea turtle populations.

Having been involved with sea turtle conservation for more than two decades, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) has gained important knowledge and understanding not only of sea turtles ecology and biology, but also of best practices for conducting scientific research. STCB staff and volunteers are well-experienced in catching, measuring and weighing the animals while causing the least amount of stress, they know when and where to do beach patrols and they know how best to protect sea turtle nests.

After becoming an established organisation on Bonaire and widely respected within the regional sea turtle conservation community, STCB is actively sharing its knowledge in an attempt to strengthen and support sea turtle monitoring and conservation efforts on the other Dutch Caribbean islands. In addition to leading workshops on Bonaire with several visiting island conservation organisations, STCB recently visited St. Maarten to conduct an assessment of potential sea turtle feeding areas, providing important information to support the St. Maarten Nature Foundation in implementing appropriate and effective in-water monitoring efforts.

On Curaçao, 2013 brought increased sea turtle conservation and protection on the island with the establishment of four new Ramsar sites and the legal ban on destructive gillnet practices, which will come into effect in May 2014. Additionally, a dialogue between STCB and CARMABI began with the idea of developing and implementing a sea turtle nest monitoring programme on Curaçao using Bonaire as a model. In February 2014, Curaçao has officially taken the next step in the protection of the island’s charismatic and threatened sea turtles. Recent discussions between the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC), the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, STCB, the Curaçaoan Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as CARMABI and Uniek Curaçao have led to a collaborative agreement to develop a monitoring programme to asses the health and status of Curaçao’s sea turtle populations. The aim is to initiate a beach patrol programme to monitor nesting activity of sea turtles on the Shete Boka beaches throughout the nesting season (May – December) and perform head count surveys of feeding sea turtles in one of the key feeding areas on Curaçao – Boka Ascension. The data collected will not only be used to determine the presence and species composition of sea turtles in Curaçao and identify trends over time, but will also contribute to a regional dataset that monitors Caribbean-wide sea turtle population trends and will allow Curaçao to properly manage this precious endangered species.

To learn more about or get involved with sea turtle conservation on Curaçao, contact the Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature, CARMABI or Uniek Curaçao.

See also here.

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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.

Curaçao coral reefs and sponges


This video is called Caribbean Coral Reefs.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) on Wednesday 20 November 2013:

Coral reefs around the world are naturally surrounded by nutrient depleted waters. One might suspect a lack of nutrients would prohibit their growth; however, coral reefs are amongst the most biodiversity-rich marine ecosystems in the world. Charles Darwin observed this during his voyage on the Beagle in the 19th century, but only now has that phenomenon, aptly called ‘Darwin’s Paradox’, been explained.

A team of researchers has recently looked into the role of sponges on the coral reefs around Curaçao and found some surprising results. By recycling vast amounts of organic matter, it is the sponges that keep the reef alive. Bacteria have the reputation to be ‘nature’s recyclers’, but on coral reefs they are not abundant enough to serve as the recyclers of the whole reef community. Sponges were found to be bigger recyclers than bacteria and to produce nearly as many nutrients as all the primary producers, corals and algae, in a tropical reef combined.

By feeding the sponges isotope-labelled sugars, and by tracing these molecules on their journey, they found that the sugars were quickly shed to the seabed in dead cells (detritus). Within two days, the same molecules were present in snails and other lower organisms that feed on the sediment containing dead sponge cells. These organisms are in turn eaten by larger animals, and so the cycle continues.

Apart from the speed, it was the sheer volume of food turnover which took the researchers by surprise; nearly tenfold the amount that is recycled by bacteria. To illustrate this, the sponge Halisarca caerulea takes up two-thirds of its body weight in dissolved organic matter every day, but barely grows in size because old cells are continuously shed to the seabed.

Recognising this newly discovered role of sponges for these threatened and fragile ecosystems will hopefully aid coral reef conservation efforts worldwide.

Read the entire article in BioNews.

Three shipwrecks were removed from coral reefs in the Pacific. How long will it take the reefs to recover? Here.

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