September 11-23, 2010 -- Bonaire

Click on the thumbnail for a map during this time period

Underwater Photography

On Sept. 21, Barb rented an underwater camera for 24 hours.   For her first experience she chose to somewhat low-ball it ($70), in that she rented a housed point-and-shoot digital camera with an external flash.  She found the experience rather frustrating, since the camera would not focus very close, the "close-up" setting not withstanding.  So in addition to the typical beginner's pictures of the tails and tops of fish that didn't hold still for their portraits, she also got a lot of well-composed pictures that were out of focus.   Here are some that survived the editing process.  (The few taken by Chuck are marked with a *.)

Chuck with his fish survey slate

French Anglefish

Bluestriped Grunt

Honeycomb Cowfish

Mahogany Snappers (mostly)

Sgt. Major

Stoplight Parrotfish

Spanish Hogfish

Tobacco Fish

Yellow Goatfish (mostly)

Trumpet Fish

Rosy Razorfish

Chuck at a Lionfish marker

*Reason for the Lionfish marker


*Black Frogfish that lives under our boat

*Yellow Frogfish that also lives under our boat

Hurricanes and Reversals

Bonaire is famously too far to the southwest to be hit by hurricanes.  Just read the promotional literature to see the assertion.   And it is true.   What may not be mentioned however, is that when a hurricane or tropical storm passes by to the north, the counter-clockwise circulation of the winds in the storm may cause Bonaire to experience a "reversal".   That is, the winds come from the west instead of the usual northeast, east, or southeast.   When that happens, the western side of Bonaire is subject to large waves that send scrambling all of the small fishing boats, all of the dive boats, and all of the cruisers in the mooring field.   Scrambling where?  To one or the other of the two protected marinas on the island, where after the remaining spots are filled the late arrivals are rafted to the accessible early birds.  Reversals can also be caused by local squalls that move in from the west.  So far, we have been chased into Harbour Village Marina twice by warnings issued by the Kralendijk harbormaster.  Once for a squall coming in from the west, and once for a reversal caused by a tropical storm/nascent hurricane passing by to the north.  The staff at the marina are extremely responsive to these emergencies; even when an event occurs far after closing, they will be present on the docks to direct and assist the vessels seeking shelter.   And the price is right:  $20/night for a vessel arriving as a consequence of a warning from the harbormaster.

One of our scrambles occurred on an evening when we had folks over for a "slide show".  Two of the party had brought along the best of their underwater photos they had taken while diving in Bonaire.   We were alternating between snacking/drinking and looking at pictures when the warning came over the VHF.   Memory sticks and nibbles and drinks were all abandoned as we hastened to seek shelter.   We were lucky; we got an inner berth and didn't have to worry about being jostled or scraped by a rafter.  One of our guests decided not to go in to the marina when they learned that they would probably have to raft up.   They discovered the next morning that their mooring lines were worn half-way through by all of the tossing and hobby-horsing they had experienced through the night.

Yellow Sub Dive Shop sponsored a reef cleanup earlier in the day ...

... and then as evening approached these ominous clouds appeared -- note the strange color fringing

Next day, all was calm in the Marina, so it was time for a little web surfing by a neighbor -- note the antenna on the power pedestal

REEF volunteers

Since our arrival on July 20th, we have each dove well over 50 times.   In an effort to keep that interesting, and to encourage ourselves to learn the identities of the reef fish, we joined REEF, an organization that sponsors fish surveying by non-scientists.  We first had to study 100 fish and then pass an exam on 50 of them.   Piece of cake; we each got 100% and thereby were "certified" to level 2.   Level 3 was tougher:  study 150 fish and successfully identify the family and species of 100 test pictures.  Not 100%, but we each scored identically in the upper 90's, so neither can lord our level 3 certifications over the other.   So now on each dive we each carry a slate which contains the names of most of the common fish here at Bonaire.   (There are blank spaces for recording less-common sightings.)  When we are topside we enter through the web the name of each fish we saw, accompanied by an indication of relative abundance:  S (single), F (few: 2-10), M (many: 11-100), A (abundant: 101+).  Each survey is indexed by a REEF membership number, the date, the time, and the location.   Anyone can access the database; if you are curious about the fish available under our boat, go to and click on "database".  Then choose "generate reports".  Then "geographic area report". Then choose the region: "Tropical Western Atlantic".   Finally, enter 85030137 for the "Geographic Zone Code".   That number designates the area right under our vessel.

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