October 27th, 2009: Limpiesa anual na Klein Bonaire tabata un éksito

Ku koperashon di Selibon, Woodwind, Freewinds i diferente boluntarionan STCB i STINAPA a organisá i ehekutá limpiesa na Klein Bonaire.

Djadumingu último a tuma lugá e limpiesa grandi na Klein Bonaire. Tabatin un kantidat di 50 persona ku tabata pará kla na Marina di Habour Village pa subi boto i bai Klein Bonaire pa duna un man.

E limpiesa tabata un éksito. E biaha aki tabatin ménos sushi ku añanan anterior. Nos ta suponé ku esei ta resultado di e pikimentu konstante ku staf i boluntario di STCB ta hasi tres biaha pa siman for di Mei te ku Desèmber komo parti di trabou di monitor di playanan durante temporada di nèshinan di turtuga.
A saka kantidat grandi di bòter di plèstik i bòter di glas. Tambe tabatin bakinan di foam, kabuya di mara boto i bastante sakunan di plèstik etcetera.
E boluntarionan a saka un kantidat di 46 saku di sushi na total.

Un biaha mas nos a logra nos meta pa resiklá mayoria di e sakunan ku tabata wòrdu usá pa e limpiesa. Igualmente e bebida tabata den kulernan i nos a pidi tur partisipantenan pa bin ku su bòter pa yena bebida. Un di nos meta ta pa sirbi di ehèmpel i promové konsenshi. Si nos tur hasi nos parti sigur huntu nos lo tin un Boneiru mas limpi. 

For di aki STCB i STINAPA kier a gradesí Selibon, Woodwind, Freewinds, Jong Bonaire, boluntarionan di STCB i STINAPA i tur boluntarionan ku tabata presente pa yuda ku e limpiesa.

E limpiesa aki ta parti di un esfuerso internashonal ku Ocean Conservancy  ta organisá rònt di mundu. Ocean Conservancy ta traha un rapòrt anual ku e datonan  kolekta durante e limpiesanan aki. Si bo tin interes pa lesa e rapòrt aki, bo por tuma kontakto ku STCB.

September 21st, 2009: Eggs found on the reef at Klein Bonaire's "Keepsake" dive site

Several divers reported seeing turtle eggs last week on the reef at the “Keepsake” dive site along Klein Bonaire. We have investigated this and determined that a green turtle attempted, apparently unsuccesfully, to nest on the tiny sand strip near this dive site. The turtle must then have laid her eggs at sea, which occurs occasionally when a turtle is desperate to lay her eggs. Green turtles need a sandy beach with at least 1 m of sand depth to deposit their eggs. Since green turtles lay nests at approximately 10 day intervals, we will keep monitoring this and other more suitable locations for her future nesting activities. No green turtle nests have been observed on Bonaire or Klein Bonaire this year.

May 25th., 2009: Volunteers Work Hard to Protect Lac's Seagrass

First clean-up of lines and buoys at Lac was successfully conducted on May 22nd thanks to the support given by Jibe City and volunteers

In November last year, a series of buoys and swim lines were installed at Lac to mark and protect the sea grass beds in front of the Sorobon peninsula.
The installation of this system of ropes and buoys was made possible by a joint effort of the Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP), Progressive Environmental Solutions (PES), Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) and two private businesses: Jibe City and The Windsurf Place.

Ongoing maintenance of these lines and buoys is necessary because of the continuous accumulation of algae and seaweed, making them too heavy and causing them to break.

Every week, staff and volunteers from STCB and PES provide maintenance of  these lines and buoys, but it has proven not to be sufficient.

In search for a long term solution, a more thorough cleanup was organized by these two organizations with the support of Jibe City. Volunteers, mainly residents of Bonaire, were invited to participate in this clean-up with the idea of repeating the effort every two to three months. Jibe City graciously provided the food and drinks. 28people gathered yesterday afternoon at Jibe city at 2:00 pm ready to work. By 6 pm most of the lines and buoys were cleaned. Buoys and anchors that needed repairs were also fixed.

STCB, PES and the BNMP are grateful for the support given by this great group of volunteers and to Jibe City.

Why is it important to stop the degradation of the sea grass beds at Lac?

The sea grass beds of Lac are not only important for the key species (such as conch and green turtles) that feed on the grass directly, but for the role that they play in the ecosystem of Bonaire overall.  These beds provide shelter for breeding and are a primary nursery for several commercially important reef fish of Bonaire.  The loss of these habitats can severely impact the number and size of the fish that later on move to the reef.  This would not only negatively impact the dive industry but will threaten the resilience and biodiversity of Lac which in turn will disrupt a food chain on which many people of Bonaire depend today.

The public is asked to join this effort by respecting the designated sea grass areas and helping us to educate others. If you happen to see people walking on the sea grass beds, please let them know that they are damaging the place for all of us and request them to step outside of the sea grass beds. You can make a difference by helping enforce the law that protects our natural resources. In case you need any help, you can always call the Marine Park for assistance.

January 9th., 2009: News Update Last Quarter 2008

Don't step on the grass
In a bold move to protect the vital sea grass beds in Lac Bay, STCB has joined with others in establishing protected areas with an in-water system of buoys and lines.
Sea grass provides an important food source for Bonaire’s juvenile green turtles. Lac’s sea grass beds also provide shelter, food and oxygen for other marine life, from microorganisms to fish, crabs, shrimp and queen conch. Sea grass roots in the near-shore beds prevent Lac’s sand from eroding. Areas with dense sea grass bottoms have been in jeopardy in Lac Bay due to heavy recreational use there. The line-and-buoy boundaries are visual markers to warn bay users of the sea grass beds below the waterline.
Roped-off areas designated by buoys are now located in the heavy traffic windsurfer area in front of Jibe City and around the point to the wind surf competition area.
STCB is being joined in this project by PROES (Progressive Environment Solutions) and STINAPA (National Parks Foundation Bonaire). Two local businesses, Jibe City and The Windsurf Place, have joined the project as supporting partners, providing technical and financial assistance, and on-site encouragement to users to stay outside of the marked areas. Lac Bay is a critical, sensitive environment, and this project will benefit not only the sea turtles, but also Bonaire’s biodiversity in general.


^ Installation of lines and buoys at Sorobon

News Bulletins
• Queen Is Crowned on Klein: The Ocean Conservancy joined STCB for another Klein Bonaire Beach Cleanup this fall. Collected trash was counted and categorized. The Ocean Conservancy is now compiling the data, and the STCB will soon receive the results. All the information collected will become part of an international database that tracks waste pollution in the world’s oceans. In celebration of a successful cleanup, a king and queen of Klein Bonaire were crowned in an “elaborate”, feet-in-the-sand ceremony. All hail to a clean Klein!


^ Queen and King of the Clean-up

• Meeting of the Minds: While Tropical Storm Omar ravaged Bonaire this past October, STCB pressed on with its first sea turtle biology and conservation course titled, Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles. Attending were national park staff from the all the Dutch Caribbean islands. STCB science advisor Robert van Dam and Wildlife Trust senior scientist Alonso Aguirre led the workshop. Topics ranged from surveying techniques to turtle injuries and diseases. Funding was supplied by DCNA (Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance) and in partnership with WIDECAST (Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network).


^ Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation Course

• New Threads: Need a T-shirt that is smart looking, colorful and supports the cause? Look no further than STCB’s new Fall line designed by board member Marlene Robinson. The T-shirts are made of high-quality organic cotton and come in a variety of sizes and colors for men and women. Unique wood block designs are printed by hand on Bonaire, giving these shirts a distinctive look. They can be purchased at The Beach Shop in Harbour Village and Chat ‘n’ Browse in the Sand Dollar Shopping Plaza. Both the Beach Shop and Chat ‘n’ Browse are donating their sales support, which means that all proceeds from every STCB item you buy go directly to sea turtle conservation.


^ New line of t-shirts in organic cotton and printed by hand on Bonaire

Turtle Trivia
Bonaire is a “grocery store” for sea turtles. That is a basic conclusion the work of researcher Ximena Velez-Zuazo’s DNA study of our foraging turtles. Hawksbill and green turtles use Bonaire as a foraging area. Through DNA analyses, it was found that these sea turtles come from other parts of the Caribbean and the South Atlantic. Some green turtles were found to come as far away as West Africa.
Photo: Green Turtle tagged on Bonaire during 2007 was rescued in Guyana a year later »

September 10th, 2008: News Update September 2008

The Hawksbill Odyssey
Back in March, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) recovered an injured hawksbill turtle that had just been tagged two days before during the in-water survey. It had a bleeding wound on its right front flipper, probably caused by a small shark or moray eel. STCB staff took it to a local veterinarian for treatment and then transferred the animal to Bonaire Prawn, the shrimp farm near Lac Bay.
Under the watchful eyes of their staff Raimundo and Raimundo Jr, the hawksbill began its month-long recovery in a large salt-water tank. At first the turtle was fed with fish and shrimp, but after a few days the animal refused to eat. We then switched to a more natural diet. Rocks from the salt pond, full with small sponges, were brought to the tank. So were upside down jellyfish, which the turtle relished. With the diet change and special care from Raimundo Junior, the hawksbill began to heal and thrive.
On May 3rd, STBC staff and volunteers returned the turtle to the spot where it was found and released it back into the sea.
Immediately after the release, the turtle remained calm and swam using mainly her uninjured flipper, but hopes were high that the animal would soon be using both front flippers equally.
Sadly after three weeks, a diver spotted the hawksbill entangled in fishing line over gorgonian coral at the Atlantis dive site. The animal, unable to surface for fresh air, died in forty feet of water. We learned much from the rehabilitation of this turtle and hope that in the future, the lessons learned will help other sea turtles in distress. But citizens also need to do their part by not leaving dangerous items like fishing line, plastic bags, and other debris in the sea. Not only these contribute to the visual pollution of the reef, but also they put sea turtles and other animals in extreme peril.


Releasing the recovered hawksbill

News Bulletins
Kids Love Turtles:
It was just another day at the office for STCB director Mabel Nava last month. That was until Berend and Julia Schmidt, ages 10 and 11, knocked on the door. The children, accompanied by their mother, were there to deliver a gift. Last year, the two siblings attended a turtle hatching event held by STCB. Julia was surprised to discover how few hatchlings actually survive until adulthood. To help the cause, she and her brother made some paintings and held a local neighborhood auction. Their creative fundraising netted 61 guilders for the organization, which the brother-sister team delivered to Mabel Nava. Many thanks to Julia and Berend for their ingenious efforts!

Julia and Berend donating money to STCB
Thanks Tina and Moogie: Thanks to volunteers Tina Lindenken and Moogie Stewart for filling in while our STCB field assistant was on leave. For over a month, Tina and Moogie did a great job monitoring nesting activity on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire.

Tina and Moogie on Klein Bonaire
An Old Friend Returns: A Toucan Diving instructor submitted a photo of a sea turtle resting on the bottom near Klein Bonaire last June. It turned out to be ‘Heit’, who had a transmitter affixed on her by STCB in late 2006. After the sighting, STCB staff tried to locate ‘Heit’ and remove its now nonfunctioning transmitter, but could not locate the turtle. ‘Heit’ is probably back in her Los Roques feeding grounds 150 kilometer (90 miles) to the east.

‘Heit’ on Klein Bonaire

Turtle Trivia
The green sea turtle, known as Chelonia mydas, is often seen along Bonaire shores. A keen eye can spot these elegant creatures surfacing every few minutes to get air in order to breathe. But when resting or sleeping, green turtles can remain underwater for two hours or more without resurfacing. How is this possible?

Since the turtles can have higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in their blood than most other air-breathing animals, they use their oxygen very efficiently. Their muscles and blood are able to store oxygen in large quantities, allowing the green turtles to remain underwater for such long periods of time.

July 11., 2008: STCB's Intern Program

During May, STCB hosted a special guest, Luisa Otero, a biology student from the Universidad De Los Andes in Venezuela. For two weeks, Luisa helped with the semiannual in-water survey. This involved counting and capturing turtles in and outside of Lac for data collection. Luisa became efficient in the weighing, measuring, examining and tagging of turtles for future identification. Luisa was asked about her experience:

"Being with two other divers at 50 feet, catching hawksbill turtles, looking at my other partners swimming near the surface – that was an excellent team experience for me. Besides, all that happened at one of the most beautiful reefs that I have ever seen. As we were coming up to the surface, green turtles began to appear right next to us. There were so many of them that I lost count! All the images, all the colors, and all the feelings that came to me in that moment made feel so happy. Definitively, diving with the sea turtles was my best experience."

Luisa returned to Venezuela in June to complete her “licenciatura”, the Venezuelan equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. She hopes to receive her diploma by February 2009. But before that, she will travel to the Puerto Rican island of Mona to assist STCB’s scientific advisor, Dr. Robert Van Dam with turtle research there.

"I will be working for Robert and Carlos Diez as part of the conservation project run by the Puerto Rican Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales. I’ll participate some days in the in-water surveys, but most of the time, I will patrol the beaches of Mona, collecting turtle nesting data.

But I’ll always remember Bonaire. I really enjoyed my days there. It seems to me that they are very conscious of all the wonderful things that Bonaire has. I liked seeing how the Bonairians, especially the kids, were interested in sea turtles when we were working with the animals next to the beach on Lac Cai. I think that attitude is what makes the difference between different conservation efforts, and it will make the difference for sea turtles in the future."

Muchas gracias, Luisa, for all of your help.

News Bulletins

• Cleaning Klein. As part of 2008’s Earth Day activities, SCTB organized a Klein Bonaire Cleanup in anticipation of this year’s turtle nesting season. Nearly 100 large garbage bags of trash were removed from the island by an enthusiastic group of volunteers including teenagers from the youth organization, Jong Bonaire. This was made possible by the support of local sponsors Kantika di Amor, staff from STINAPA, the Dutch Coast Guard, SELIBON, Jong Bonaire, and all the volunteers who participated in this clean-up.

Young Loggerhead. One of the amazing things about this May’s in-water survey at Lac was finding a juvenile loggerhead turtle. "Immature loggerhead sightings are very uncommon in the southern Caribbean", states STCB scientific advisor Dr. Robert Van Dam. "These animals normally inhabit subtropical waters, with the largest aggregations in the western Atlantic found along the east coast of the USA and the southern coast of Brazil. The animal we encountered is obviously attracted to the abundant food resources of Lac, which in this case, may include conch and other crustaceans. Adult loggerheads do nest on Bonaire, but travel far to get here and do not appear to be residents of the area."

New on Our Website. Protehá Nos Turtuganan (Protect Our Sea Turtles) is a new addition to the STCB website. The goal is to create local awareness and positive attitudes towards protection of sea turtles and their habitat. The Web page has educational materials and school activities that anyone can download. Funding for this project was provided by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance. To see the page log on to:http://www.bonaireturtles.org/protehanosturtuganan/index.html

Turtle Trivia

Is it a boy or is it a girl? Telling the sex of a juvenile turtle by just looking at it is difficult  even for the experts. For positive identification, scientists rely on measuring hormone levels (testosterone) in young turtles’ blood. It is much easier determining the sex of adult turtles. Females tend to have short tails, while males have tails extending well beyond their carapace (the hard, upper shell).

May 11., 2008: Advice on fish-eating choices

Although it has been said before, it cannot be repeated enough, because no one seems to pay any attention.
For those of you new to this, it's actually even worse then sketched below.

Be aware of the fish you eat, find out what to avoid at various websites, most relevant for our region:
Environmental Defense Fund: http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=1521
Monterey Bay Aquarium, regional guides, South East US: http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_regional.aspx?region_id=5
Note that the way the fish are caught sometimes makes a big difference , e.g. for Mahi-mahi (Drado) longlining is bad, trolling (towing handlines) is good. Artisanal fishery such as practiced in our islands is usually sustainable, except where it targets reef fish in the very narrow reef areas around Bonaire and Curacao. Consider what you eat, not only in a restaurant or at the fish market, but also when buying deep frozen fish (or shrimp, conch or lobster) in the supermarket.
Make a choice and make a difference. Governments and commercial sector see below) have shown they won't.

A note of interest: The Netherlands Antilles is right now contemplating whether or not to become a member of ICCAT. You can read below how effective that is. "International Conspiracy to Catch All Tunas" indeed!

Related article: How the world's oceans are running out of fish (Guardian.co.uk | TheObserver)

April 22., 2008 - Earth Day 2008 Beach Clean-Up Klein Bonaire

Kick-off nesting season on Klein Bonaire

As in past years, STCB in collaboration with STINAPA organized a beach clean-up during the Earth Day celebration. This year it was decided to prepare the beaches on Klein Bonaire for a good start of the 2008 sea turtle nesting season which begins in May.

On Sunday, April 20, a beach clean-up was conducted successfully on Klein Bonaire which is Bonaire's most important hawksbill and loggerhead nesting beach. Maintaining unobstructed access to beaches for egg laying female turtles is extremely important to the survival of these endangered animals.


STCB staff and volunteers during the briefing before the clean-up started

A total of 90 volunteers participated during this clean-up and 105 bags of trash were collected and sorted for further classification and analysis. Volunteers were mainly residents from the island, with a large group of teenagers from Jong Bonaire participating with two of their youth leaders. The Coast Guard were also part of this clean-up. Another group, with the CIEE Research Station Bonaire, was in charge of classifying and documenting the collected trash. Results from the data collected will be posted when available, and this information can be a good tool to determine the origin of this inadequately disposed garbage on Bonaire.


Marine Park ranger and volunteer taking away the trash from Klein Bonaire

STCB would like to thank staff from STINAPA, Coast Guard, SELIBON, Jong Bonaire, Kantika di Amor, and all the volunteers who participated in this clean-up.

About the Earth Day:
Since the first Earth Day in 1970, people around the world have sought to celebrate the planet through a variety of individual and community activities. But Earth Day is about more than observing the beauty and vitality of nature; it is also about renewing your commitment to saving our living planet. There are a lot of things that we can do to help our planet to survive. For example, at home we can save energy by flicking off the light when leaving the room. We can also help with cleaning-up activities on the island.

April 21., 2008 - Progress Report 2007 is ready

Click here to view the report (will open in new window)

Jan 3., 2008 - The rescue of a green turtle in Lac

The rescue of a green turtle in Lac has transformed itself into an opportunity for showing once again how assistance from the community has become an essential element for achieving a better environment for the sea turtles of Bonaire.

On January 3rd, we received a call from STINAPA to report a stranded turtle in Lac bay. The turtle had been found and reported by Doi Boekhoudt and Stanley Marinus.

When STCB staff arrived at Lac, Doi took them in his boat to where the animal was quickly located, swimming in the mangrove-fringed lagoon behind his house. The turtle was then brought to shore and examined. It was identified as a 68 cm carapace length green turtle, perhaps some 10-15 years old. Both front flippers were missing from the shoulders. The wounds left where normally the flippers would be attached was substantially healed, indicating that the flipper loss occurred about 2 months ago. When found, the turtle was floating and moving slowly using its rear flippers, which are normally used in the water only for steering. The animal’s condition indicates that feeding was problematic, as it looked underweight, however the turtle was not in critical condition.

How this turtle came to lose its front flippers is unclear, although we believe that it may have become severely entangled in monofilament fishing line or rope at sea. Such entanglements may become tighter and tighter, constricting at the base of the flippers, and eventually causing their loss. Another potential scenario is that the animal became entangled in fishing net and was cut loose by someone.

Whether to try to save this animal was the first question we asked ourselves as an organization dedicated to sea turtle conservation. Left in the wild, the turtle would probably perish after some time. And biologically, the animal has nothing to contribute to the green turtle population since it cannot reproduce. However, as an individual, the animal exhibited plenty of strength and apparent desire to live, since it was attempting to feed. We took the decision to send the turtle to the Seaquarium in Curacao as soon as we learned their willingness to receive it. At this facility, the turtle now has an opportunity to survive and can serve as an educational ambassador for the visitors. Accidents such as this turtle suffered occur more frequently than we can imagine and by showing the consequences we can help conservation efforts in order to protect those turtles remaining in the wild.

While preparations were made to transport the turtle to Curacao, the animal was placed in the care of Bonaire PRAWN (the shrimp aquaculture facility). Kept in a salt-water tank with abundant food and looked after by Raimundo Vargas and his son, Reimundo, the turtle appeared very comfortable and even took food (seagrass and fish) given by hand. The next phase was transporting the animal to Curacao and for this for we gratefully accepted help from the cruise ship Free winds. On January 8th, the animal was brought aboard and placed in a Jacuzzi on deck filled with salt water and seagrass. Once in Curacao Arjan Siersma and his staff picked up the turtle, from the Seaquarium in who gave us the initial green light for considering Curacao Sea Aquarium as an option for the rescued turtle from the beginning. Several hours later we received news that the turtle had arrived safely at its new home and was already feeding normally.

This effort and operational success would not have been possible without the help of a group of people and organizations in our community and that of Curacao and beyond. STCB sincerely thanks all those involved with this rescue operation.

December 11., 2007 - Community Involvement results in turtle rescue

On Tuesday, December 11, a sea turtle was rescued due to the vigilance and effort of the community.

Earlier in the day at around 8:00 am, STINAPA received a phone call from Clinton Sint Jago, a resident of Rincon, reporting a turtle in trouble. While walking along the shore at Morotin, in the north-east part of the island, he came upon an entangled and stranded turtle. STINAPA called STCB and both teams traveled to Morotin and found the turtle alive. In all likelihood, this adult male hawksbill got entangled with ropes and thick nylon lines somewhere in the open seas and had drifted for quite a while. Now weakened and hurt, it had washed ashore and probably would have died if Clinton had not happened upon it.

STCB staff checked the turtle after cutting the lines. The turtle was measured and tagged. He was then taken to Boca Onima for release. Everyone present was impressed to see how fast the turtle entered the water.

In order for STCB and STINAPA to accomplish our conservation goals it is essential we get reports of problems in a timely fashion. This is a happy example of how an endangered sea turtle was saved and it would not have happened if it wasn't for the concern and effort of Clinton. We encourage everyone to become part of this very important network and always report problems promptly.

STCB would like to thank Clinton and BNMP rangers Din Domacasse and Angelo Duvale.

Click here for the 'Extra' article about the rescue (Papiamentu, 1,7 MB jpg, opens in new window).

September 16., 2007 - International Coastal Clean-up

Clean-up at No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire

On Sunday, September 16, a beach clean-up was successfully conducted at No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire. The clean-up was organized by STCB and STINAPA as part of the annual International Coastal Clean-up effort sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy. No Name Beach is Bonaire's primary hawksbill and loggerhead nesting beach and maintaining unobstructed access to beaches for egg laying females is extremely important to the survival of these endangered animals.


(left to right) Enrique Vasquez, Win-chung Xuan, Kevin Felix, Win Leong Xuan,
Kawei Yan Jivienne Marinus, Joshua Carter, Joanna Pietersz and Mariangela
Oleana from STCB’s High School Program

As in other years, the cruise ship Freewinds supported the effort, providing food and drinks, as well as extra volunteers. The water taxi Kantika di Amor helped with the transportation of volunteers and SELIBON participated by placing a truck on the pier for dumping the trash. The trash was sorted and the types of trash collected were recorded on data forms which are sent to the Ocean Conservancy. Ocean Conservancy releases an annual report with the results of the clean-up sites all over the world and the data is used to help formulate strategies for reducing marine debris.

A total of 175 bags of trash were collected and sorted. As part of our planning, the bags will be saved and reused in the next clean-up.

STCB and STINAPA would like to thank SELIBON, the Freewinds, Junior Rangers, Jong Bonaire, the SGB (local high school) group from STCB's high school program and all the volunteers and staff that helped during this clean-up.

The International Coastal Clean-up is the world’s oldest and largest volunteer effort to clean up our marine environment. Each year, volunteers remove trash and debris from their local beaches, rivers, lakes and streams – along shorelines and under the water. Since 1986, over five million volunteers in 123 countries have cleaned 130,000 miles of shoreline – over five times the circumference of the earth.

August 8., 2007 - Leatherback Turtle Rescued Off BOPEC Oil Terminal by the Crew of the Indusbank

Wednesday, August 8, 2007, at approximately 5:00 pm, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) Manager, Mabel Nava received an emergency call from the Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP) that there was a sea turtle entangled in a home-made longline with floats and hooks up by the BOPEC oil terminal.

The tugboat Indusbank was on duty off the oil terminal when it spotted a leatherback turtle. Recognizing that it was in distress and needed immediate assistance, Captain Willy Meye and his crew were able to get a rope around the turtle. Working from a platform from the side of the tugboat, the crew cut off much of the line and a number of floats that encircled the turtle. Realizing that additional assistance was need, oil terminal supervisor, Jan Emerenciana was contacted and he, in turn, called Din Domacasse, Chief Ranger of the BNMP.

With time being an issue and sunset not all that far off, Mabel working with Duvan Rios, BNMP Ranger, quickly responded to the call. With support from Ramon de Leon, the marine park's manager and Carlos Rodriguez, the operations manager at Harbor Village Marina, a marine park boat was rapidly fueled and equipped . Accompanied by Andy Uhr, acting STCB President, Mabel and Duvan were on the water and headed north at 5:45 pm.

When the team reached the Indusbank, the rope securing the turtle was quickly passed to the marine park boat. In spite of the Indusbank's work, the turtle still had significant amounts of twisted nylon line wrapped around her, with the line having cut deeply into and around each of her front flippers and the back of her neck.

Efforts to remove the remaining line while working from the marine park boat proved to be less than successful. Mabel, donning a mask and fins, went over the side to work in the water. With two sets of hands from the boat steadying the leatherback, Mabel removed the remainder of the line and floats. Sea turtles are tough and resilient animals and attempting to bring them in for veterinary treatment presents a greater potential for harming the animal so the leatherback was released. While seriously injured she swam away into the deep blue using a steady and strong stroke, giving the team encouragement that she would survive her ordeal.

This rescue was made possible by the quick and positive actions of Captain Willy Meye and the crew of the Indusbank, Francis Verginie, Leopoldo Clarenda and Florenso Thode. STCB extends its thanks to them and everyone else involved in the effort.

The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the biggest of all living turtles, reaching a length of over 2.7 m (8.8 ft) and weight of 900 kg (2,000 lb) and is listed by international authorities as critically endangered. The leatherback is found worldwide in all oceans. Our leatherback was quite small, measuring an estimated 1 m (3 ft) across the carapace and weighting over 100 kg (220 lb). Leatherbacks are occasional visitors to Bonaire and are usually seen passing through on their way to destinations unknown.

Longline fishing is illegal on Bonaire and to our knowledge not practiced here. But the practice is common along the coast of South America and it is thought that is where the leatherback became entangled. This the second such incident this year. In April, the remains of a hawksbill turtle ensnared by a similar fishing rig were recovered from a dive site at the southern end of the island.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire exists to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire's sea turtle populations throughout their range. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network.


Photo (left to right): BNMP Ranger Duvan Rios and Indusbank Crew Members Francis Verginie, Leopoldo Clarenda, Florenso Thode and Willy Meye

May 7., 2007 - Progress Report 2006 is ready

Click here to view the report (will open in new window)

April 27., 2007 - Grant from the Truus & Gerrit van Riemsdijk Foundation

We have been working quite hard at raising funds to cover our 2007 budget shortfall and I am pleased to report that we have meet with some success. The Truus & Gerrit van Riemsdijk Foundation, a private foundation, has pledged a grant in the amount of 25,000 Swiss francs (approximately US$ 20,000 or ANG 35,000) for 2007. This very generous grant goes a long way in helping us meet our fund raising goal for the year. The Foundation has also indicated that there is a strong possibility of another grant in 2008.

We are continuing to identify other sources of funding in order to provide financial stability so that STCB may continue to effectively function. In the first quarter of the year we wrote and submitted three proposals to organizations in both the US and Europe. Two of the proposals were unsuccessful and we are still waiting to hear on the third. Work has already started on three new proposals to be submitted in May and June. In addition, we are continuing to solicit donations from local businesses and individuals.

With STCB, your donations always translates into action for sea turtles. We are eager to continue our efforts to protect and restore our sea turtle populations and to be an increasingly important contributor to sea turtle research, conservation, and advocacy. Please visit our website and see how you can help.

2007 Nesting Season

We have our first nest of the 2007 nesting season. A loggerhead nest was confirmed on No Name beach on Klein Bonaire on April 25. Let's hope for a successfull nesting season.

Imre Esser receives Accolade Award at Farewell Party

On the evening of April 7, over 40 people gathered at Gielmon "Funchi" Egbrechts' kunuku near Washikema to honor Imre Esser, former President of Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB), and say goodbye to him and his family. They will be leaving Bonaire and returning to the Netherlands around April 18.

The highlight of the evening was the awarding of the Accolade Award to Imre for his work with STCB. Among its many goals, the Accolade Foundation strives to encourage marine conservation by recognizing individuals who have made significant contributions to protecting the oceans. Imre served as President of STCB for 10-years and under his leadership STCB has become a model for sea turtle conservation throughout the Caribbean and has grown from a modest field project to a multifaceted organization, skilled at high technology research applications, fund raising, and addressing complex sustainable development issues.


L to R: Janet Thibault and Captain Don Stewart (Accolade Foundation), Imre Esser,
Caren Eckrich (Accolade Foundation), and Jan Kloos and Andy Uhr (STCB)

Mar 25., 2007: Funding Update

We like to update you on where we are with our fund raising efforts. The addition of Marlene Robinson to the board of directors has brought a lot of energy and creativity to our fund raising activities. Marlene has been busy identifying potential funding sources, as well as, developing new promotional materials that are soon to be distrubuted. Three grant proposals have been submitted to conservation groups in the U.S. and Europe in just the last two months and we anticipate sending out more in the near-term.

Earlier this week, we have had an opportunity to meet with Dr. Adriana Esmeijer, Director of the Prins Bernhard Culture Foundation from the Netherlands and introduce her to our work. The Prins Berhhard Culture Foundation's mission is to promote humanities, arts, education and monuments and nature conservation in the Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles and Aruba and has provided STCB with financial support in the past. Dr. Esmeijer spent a day out in Lac Bay assisting us with our in-water surveys. Her visit to Bonaire and time with us was a featured story in recent issue of the Bonaire Reporter.

Several days later we had an opportunity to meet with State Secretary for Kingdom Relations from the Netherlands, Ank Bijleveld-Schouten at Lac Bay. The Secretary was on a visit to the islands of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. She was accompanied by Bonaire's Lt. Governor Domacasse. Once again we had an opportunuty to showcase our work while explaining the importance of Lac Bay to the sea turtle population and its importance to Bonaire's entire ecosystem.


State Secretary for Kingdom Relations Ank Bijleveld-Schouten and Lt. Governor Domacasse
(3rd and 4th from the left), along with STCB's Gielmon "Funchi" Egbrechts and Mabel Nava
get ready to release a newly tagged green turtle.

The conversations and time spend with the Secretary for Kingdom Relations and the Director of the Prins Bernhard Culture Foundation plus our recent efforts have given us a real sense of encouragement about the future of STCB but we still have a long way to go to reach our fund raising goals.

If you have already contributed, thank you very much. Your support is very important and much appreciated. If you have not made a donation, please take a minute and go to our website by clicking on the link below. There you can learn more about our work and how you can help.


Front Page of the March 23, 2007 issue of the Bonaire Reporter

Bonaire Algal Survey and Inventory Completed 15/03/2007

In November 2006 Conservation International in cooperation with the Antillean Dept. of Environment (MINA) and Bonaire's National Parks Foundation (Stinapa Bonaire) organized an expedition to survey the algae in the Bonaire National Marine Park by algae specialists Marc and Diane Littler of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The Littler's team included Barrett Brooks, Don Hurlbert, Barbara Watanabe, and Larry Gorenflo of Conservation International. The purpose of this expedition was to assist MINA, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International to assess the current status of Bonaire's marine flora. The team collected over 300 specimens from the upper reef to a depth of 56 m. This assessment increased the known species reported from Bonaire by 35%. The marine flora is typical of many Caribbean reefs with no specific areas of extremely high diversity or unique species composition. Another result of this expedition is a library of over 100 digital images, properly identified to the species level in most cases.

The species list and images will be made available through a web page currently under development, for use by managers for oral presentation, training manuals, brochures, etc., and to make marine plant identification possible for Bonaire's many divers, volunteers, conservationists or interested agencies.

The team also surveyed the health of the reefs using key indicator species (recognized from over 30 continuous years of coral-reef research) in reference to the growing problems associated with eutrophication and overfishing along tropical and subtropical shorelines worldwide. The ecological responses of corals and macroalgae to nutrient enrichment and release from predation have been repeatedly cited as priority areas in need of further research (National Research Council, 2000; Littler & Littler 2006). They concluded that Bonaire's reefs seemed in excellent shape with respect to fish populations. Large numbers of herbivorous fishes occurred at nearly all of the 21 sites surveyed. Some signs were noted of an overly stressed environment most likely due to high nutrient and/or sediment levels. A disturbing abundance of dead and diseased coral was noted, with Black Band and Dark Spot diseases being the most prevalent. Many sites surveyed were dominated by noxious Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). This harmful bloom of unpalatable (chemically-defended) Cyanobacteria is smothering other organisms occupying much of the available space, precluding settlement of desirable coral species.

The full report of the expedition can be downloaded here (pdf 2.8 MB)


A. Healthy leeward reef community.
B. Windward high-energy system dominated by the large rockweed Sargassum.
C. Cyanobacterial community typical of many shallow disturbed habitats.


A. Coral being overgrown by Cyanobacteria.
B. Cyanobacteria removed to reveal dead coral beneath.

Feb 13., 2007: STCB joins Marine Life Education Program at Buddy Dive Resort

We are pleased to announce that starting this September, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire will be participating in Buddy Dive Resort's annual education program. STCB staff members, Mabel Nava and Gielmon "Funchi" Egbreghts along with world renowned naturalists and marine biologists Ned & Anna DeLoach, will be at Buddy Dive Resort sharing their experience, knowledge and enthusiasm with guests. This year guests will have an opportunity to join Mabel and Funchi on two-weekly field trips in search of sea turtles. In addition, The Sea Turtles of Bonaire PowerPoint presentation will be given a weekly during the month.

As co-writer of the Reef Coral-ID, Reef Fish-ID and Reef Creatures-ID books (see www.fishid.com), Ned is well known and respected within the marine sciences establishment, dive world and far beyond. For more than two decades Ned has been publishing marine life identification books.

Anna joined forces with her husband to study and document marine life species around the world. As a very talented photographer and videographer she produced several educational DVD's that examines the relationship of marine animals and their environment.

Mabel Nava de Simal, manager of the Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, was appointed in her position in January 2005 and has a background in veterinarian medicines as well as an extensive training in the field of turtle research. Together with STCB's field specialist Gielmon "Funchi" Egbreghts, Mabel will guide weekly field trips and conduct a slide show presentation about this intriguing species that fascinates so many divers and snorkelers.

September is also an active period in the coral spawning season and Ned & Anna will give special presentations that will let you understand, discover and enjoy the spawning wonders.

Marine Life Education Program Schedule *

Sundays: Slide show presentation by Ned & Anna DeLoach
Mondays: Afternoon guided boat dive with Ned & Anna
Tuesdays: Morning turtle patrol with STCB / Afternoon guided Mangrove snorkel tour with Ned & Anna
Wednesdays: Afternoon guided boat dive with Ned & Anna
Thursdays: Sea Turtles of Bonaire Slide Show presentation
Fridays: Sea turtle patrol with STCB / Booking signing during Buddy's Manager's Rum Punch Party by Ned & Anna

* The program is subject to change without notice and no rights can be derived from above-mentioned program. Joining excursion is based on first-come-first-serve base and depends on availability.

For more information please call: 1-866-GO-BUDDY, e-mail reservations@buddydive.com of visit www.buddydive.com.

Jan. 24., 2007: Imre Esser and family to return to The Netherlands - Changes to the STCB Board of Directors

At our 5 January Board of Director’s meeting, Imre Esser announced his resignation from the presidency of Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire and his intention to move back to the Netherlands in the not too distant future.

Imre had been president of the organization since 1999 and under his leadership Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire has matured from a relatively simple field project to a multifaceted organization skilled at high technology research applications, fund-raising, and addressing complex sustainable development issues.

Imre’s concern for Bonaire has extended beyond sea turtles and he has been a key player in Aliansa Naturalesa di Bonaire, the umbrella organization for the Bonaire’s nature groups. Not too long ago, it was proposed that Aliansa be disbanded. Due in large measure to Imre’s efforts, Aliansa today remains an important advocate for addressing issues that concern all of the island’s conservation groups.

Imre has agreed to remain on the Board of Directors until he leaves. His departure will leave a large void and it is going to be a challenge to find someone to replace him. His dedication, vision and energy has made Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire into what it is today. Thanks Imre!


Queen Beatrix speaking with Imre Esser (right) during her November 2006 visit to Klein Bonaire.
STINAPA Director Elsmarie Beukenboom and Antilles Governor Frits Gooderdrag look on.

With Imre's resignation as president, the Board of Directors asked Andy Uhr to serve as acting president. The Board also extended invitations to Marlene Robinson and Bruce Brabec, island residents and long-time STCB volunteers, to join. Bruce has agreed and accepted the position of Treasurer. Marlene has also agreed and accepted special duties related to fund raising and grant writing.

The current composition of the Board and staff is:

Sea Turtle Conservation Board of Directors:
Andy Uhr - Acting President / Secretary
Bruce Brabec - Treasurer
Imre Esser - Member
Albert J de Soet - Member
Allerd Stikker - Member
Corine Gerharts - Member
Diana Sint Jago - Member
Marlene Robinson - Member

Staff:
Mabel Nava de Simal - Manager
Gielmon 'Funchi' Egbreghts - Field Manager/Ranger
Dr. Robert van Dam - Scientific Advisor

Please contact Mabel Nava and she will assist you in communicating with staff and/or Board members. Mabel can be contacted at:

STCB, PO Box 492, Kralendijk, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles
phone (599) 717 2225
cellular (599) 780 0433
email: stcb@bonaireturtles.org

Jan. 3., 2007: MAJOR SOURCE OF FUNDING NO LONGER AVAILABLE!

At the end of November, Imre Esser, STCB president, wrote to you asking for your continuing support. At that time, Imre wrote that our grant with the Dutch government had expired and we were under-funded for 2007 due to unanticipated problems getting our funding renewed. We ’d like to take this opportunity to update you.

In early December, two of our board member visited The Hague and met with the appropriate Minister in an attempt to advance the proposal which we had submitted to and received the approval of the Bonaire Island Council back in August. At the meeting our representatives were informed that the funding program to which we had submitted our proposal had been terminated in early August and that a newly defined program would be opening in April, 2007. Unfortunately, due to the new definition of the program, sea turtle conservation would not be considered for any future grants.

Our representatives were further advised that with the recent commitment of the government to a long-term trust fund for the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, it was not anticipated that additional funding programs would be established for which we would qualify.

So where does that leave us? Well, we are working on identifying other grants and will be submitting one mid-January. But the scope of this, and most other available grants, is no where close to what we had hoped to secure from Holland. In addition, we have been raising funds from supporters such as yourself and have had some success. Donations from Maduro & Curiel's Bank (Bonaire) N.V. and BOPEC have been encouraging and we received a generous donation from the Foundation Preservation Klein Bonaire. Still, we have a long way to go to meet our goal of raising 100,000 ANG this year.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire Project Prospectus 2007 - 2009
Progress Report for 2005

We're taking the liberty of providing some links and information Imre included in his November message. Please take a moment to review the material, in the hope that if you have not already contributed, you will do so now. Making a contribution is easy, can be done right on-line using a credit card and for U.S. taxpayers the contribution is tax deductible. Simply go to the Support Bonaire Inc. website. Be sure to select the Sea Turtle Conservation Project when completing the form.

If you would rather handle your donation in a different manner, please refer to our website for information about making a contribution. If you have any questions, please contact us. Many thanks to the people and organizations that have made contributions thus far.

Dec. 1., 2006: Bonaire's Conservation Network in Action

Oil Spill Meets Quick Response

Reports last week of an oil spill on the east coast of Bonaire were met with a rapid, coordinated response by local conservation groups.

On the 20th of November, oil accumulations along the east coast were reported to the Bonaire National Marine Park. Marine Park and Department of Environment and Nature staff confirmed the nature and extent of the spill. The sticky oil had no sheen or odor, indicating that the oil may have been at sea for a period of time before being washed ashore.


A sea turtle hatchling is rescued by clean-up volunteers

Officials determined that the most immediate threat of the spill was to sea turtle hatchlings from nests at Washikemba, where solid patches of oil coated both shoreline rocks and ocean-borne debris littering the beach.

An emergency clean-up was conducted on Friday, November 23 by the Marine Park, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, SELIBON and the corps of volunteers of the Marine Park. The largest oil-contaminated rocks and debris were removed by SELIBON using a loader and truck. Volunteers also combed the beach by hand, clearing oil-laden debris.

Following the clean-up effort, officials were satisfied that the beach's condition would allow baby sea turtles to navigate with relative safety from their nests to the sea during the current hatching period.

STINAPA and STCB want to give special recognition to both SELIBON and the volunteers of the BNMP & STCB for their willingness to mobilize quickly and help in emergency situations like this one.

The cooperation of SELIBON in beach clean-ups makes a huge difference in the results; beaches like Washikemba and Lagoen receive huge amounts of debris as a consequence of their location and the direction of the wind. SELIBON's presence with their loader and truck to carry the collected material away makes the hard work of volunteers and staff from the two organizations much more effective.


Volunteers and the SELIBON loader at Washikemba

Nov. 27., 2006: Your continuing support is needed!

STCB Grant Expires!

In the last five years, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire has made tremendous strides in its research, conservation and education activities aimed at protecting endangered sea turtles. These efforts have been made possible by the support and generosity of individuals and corporations, as well as, a grant from the Dutch government. In October, 2006 our grant expired. While we timely completed a new proposal which was approved and endorsed by the Bonaire Island Council, for reasons we can neither understand nor explain, our proposal has not moved forward and we are currently unfunded for 2007. We are continuing with our efforts to secure another grant but realize that without additional financial support, our work will have to be greatly curtailed. With that in mind, we have set a goal of raising 100,000 ANG (Netherlands Antilles Guilder) so that our project work can continue unabated. We are seeking your help and hope you can make a contribution. So that you may better understand who we are, what we have been doing and where we are going, you will find the following documents available to you at our website:

I hope you will take the time out of your busy schedule to review the material and then decide to provide financial support for our work. Making a contribution is easy, can be done right on-line using a credit card and for U.S. taxpayers the contribution is tax deductible. Simply go to the Support Bonaire Inc. website. Be sure to select the Sea Turtle Conservation Project when completing the form.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire Project Prospectus 2007 - 2009
Progress Report for 2005

If you would rather handle your donation in a different manner, please refer to our website for information about making a contribution. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Nov. 21., 2006: Queen Beatrix's royal visit to Klein Bonaire

As part of her recent 2-day visit to Bonaire, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands visited Klein Bonaire on the afternoon of November 8. On Klein, Imre Esser, President of Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB), had an opportunity to met and greet her Majesty. Imre was also representing the Foundation for the Preservation of Klein Bonaire and thanked her for the Royal family's support and assistance in returning the island to the people of Bonaire.

The highlight of her afternoon, and arguably the highlight of her entire trip, was checking out a turtle nest with STCB Project Director Mabel Nava and assisting Gielmon "Funchi" Egbrechts in the tagging of a green turtle. The Queen named the turtle Zaria, after her youngest grandchild, before releasing it back into the water. The Queen also agreed to sponsor a satellite transmitter that will be fitted on an adult female sea turtle in 2007. The turtle to be tracked will be named for her eldest grandchild, Eloise.


Queen Beatrix speaking with Imre Esser (right). STINAPA Director Elsmarie Beukenboom and Antilles Governor Frits Goedgedrag look on.


The Queen and Funchi release 'Zaria' back into the Caribbean.

Nov 5., 2006: ‘Heit’: an Ambassador for World Heritage Designation

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) has just completed a first exciting collaboration with conservation counterparts in the archipelago of Los Roques, Venezuela. The catalyst for all the excitement was one of Bonaire’s own nesting hawksbill turtles, ‘Heit’. Fitted with a satellite transmitter earlier this year, ‘Heit’ defied researcher expectations. Instead of migrating to either Nicaragua, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, where Bonaire’s other tracked turtles have gone, ‘Heit’ left her nesting ground on Klein Bonaire and swam steadily east to the waters of Los Roques.

The trip was significant in that ‘Heit’s entire 180 kilometer migration occurred within the boundaries of a very special area which is under consideration to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Such a designation would be the first time a World Heritage site is shared by several countries, encompassing the waters surrounding the Venezuelan islands of Las Aves and Los Roques as well as marine reserves of Bonaire and Curacao, for a total area of 2.5 million hectares (25,500 km square).

World Heritage nature sites spring from a 1972 UNESCO aim to “stimulate international cooperation to protect the world's superb natural and scenic areas and historic sites for the present and the future of the entire world citizenry.” By regarding heritage as both cultural and natural, the WHS designation “reminds us of the ways in which people interact with nature, and of the fundamental need to preserve the balance between the two.”

A World Heritage Site designation would lend important support to sea turtle conservation on Bonaire. STCB’s mission is to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire's sea turtle populations, not just on Bonaire, but throughout their range. Because sea turtles migrate extensively during their lives, no one government/state can fully protect "its" sea turtle resource; cooperation and collaboration are vital if we are to achieve an increase in sea turtle populations.

‘Heit’s migration provided us at STCB with an excellent opportunity to initiate just such a collaboration.

In my capacity as Project Director of STCB, I contacted Bladimir Rodriguez who is the Director of La Fundacion Cientifica Los Roques (FCLR). He was excited about our two organizations joining in collaboration and provided great support.

On October 16, I traveled to Los Roques joined by my colleague, Gielmon (Funchi) Egbreghts, STCB’s Project Assistant. We traveled for a one-week work session with our counterparts in the turtle project of FCLR. Funded by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), the trip was intended to forge the beginning of an ongoing collaborative relationship with LFCR.

Funchi and I flew to Los Roques, where we were met by Humberto Camissoti, the biologist in charge of the station. The three of us then proceeded by boat to Dos Mosquises, an island 40 minutes away and where FCLR’s base is located.

There we met Pedro Vernet and Angela Arias, the biologists in charge of the Los Roques sea turtle conservation project, their assistant Jeanrit Gonzalez, and Pablo Mata, boat captain and legendary fisherman who also works for the Foundation.

The excitement of finally meeting each other led us to an immediate rapport, based on our shared interests, passions and experience, and following a tour of the project’s facility, our new team immediately sat down to make plans for the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pedro, Humberto, Mabel, Angela and Jeanrit plan a busy week

One of the week’s goals was to try to locate ‘Heit’ and retrieve the transmitter that STCB had deployed to her carapace two months before. In addition, we worked together on the FCLR staff’s ongoing work schedule which included daily beach patrols, in-water surveys and daily maintenance of the “sala de cria,” a care center where sea turtles are rehabilitated and hatchlings from endangered nests are reared until they are ready for release after reaching six months of age.

The area where ‘Heit’ is currently located is an unspoiled wilderness called the Central Lagoon, an area of 186 square kilometers surrounded by most of the islands that form the archipelago.

Using coordinates from the daily data received from ‘Heit’s satellite tracking device in the previous weeks, our team determined the best locations to look for her. Even with the help of the data, looking for ‘Heit’ was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We never did locate ‘Heit’, but sub-adult and adult turtles were spotted on every search.

At the conclusion of the week of demanding field work, any fatigue we felt was over-shadowed by a renewed enthusiasm for turtle conservation. Sharing that week of work with Angela and Pedro was an incredible experience. It gave us the chance to compare field techniques used by both projects and to learn from each other, reaching one of, or maybe the most, important goals of this trip, which was to establish a relationship and cooperation between projects in order to improve the protection of our sea turtles.

‘Heit’, a migrating sea turtle fitted with a satellite transmitter, swam east and gave us a new piece of the story of our natural heritage. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire and La Fundacion Cientifica Los Roques hope to develop a model of collaboration that will lead to significant improvements in sea turtle conservation and recovery in the Southern Caribbean.


Pedro and Funchi in the foreground, with Captain Pablo at        Aerial view of islands surrounding the central lagoon
the wheel

(Story written by Mabel Nava)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green turtle hatchling entering the surf at Onima

Sep 28., 2006: Activity at Boka Onima (good news and bad news)

There is both good and bad news to report concerning Boka Onima. As you will remember, in June, we announced the completion of the restoration of the beach after it had been cleared of all of it’s sand in August 2005. On August 9, 2006, exactly one year to the day from when Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP) Rangers stopped the sand removal activities at Onima, turtle crawl tracks were reported at the beach.

STCB’s Mabel Nava and Gielmon ‘Funchi’ Egbreghts went to check the activity and to confirm the nest, but discovered that the female Green turtle had never made it back to the sea. Clues, both turtle and vehicle tracks, indicated that it had been poached. A search of the beach was unable to locate the nest and it was feared that the eggs had also been taken. The incident was reported to BNMP and in spite of their strenuous efforts the culprit(s) was never apprehended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aerial view of Boka Onima

As with other nesting beaches on Bonaire, Onima is patrolled on regular basis to check for activity. This past Tuesday, September 27, Funchi, along with Injemar ‘Shaba’ Meyers, came upon a nest hatching at Onima. A subsequent check of the nest confirmed that 96 hatchlings had emerged and made their way to the sea.

This is a very happy and sad event. We are very pleased that the restoration of Boka Onima has proven to be a success and that it is once again a viable nesting site. But the poaching of the breeding female is very troubling. Had she not been slaughtered, the female Green would have probably returned to Onima three to five more times to lay nests before departing for her home foraging grounds. Now we have not only lost those nests but all the nests she would have laid when she returned to Bonaire in the future. Bonaire does not have a large enough population of breeding turtles to accept the lose of one by such a callous, illegal and selfish act.

It is estimated that the population of adult Green turtles in the Caribbean was over 30 million 400 years ago. Today, the estimate of adult Green’s in the Caribbean is approximately 60 thousand. Green turtles, along with all the other turtles that either visit or live around Bonaire are severely threatened. Sea turtles are protected by law on Bonaire and it is illegal to take, kill or have a turtle in your possession. It is also illegal to damage or destroy turtle nests or to take turtle eggs.

If anyone has any information about the person or persons who poached the turtle at Boka Onima, please contact STCB or STINAPA. If anyone sees a violation of Bonaire law or the Marine Park ordinances, please report it.

Protehá nos turtuganan!

Sep 27 2006: International Coastal Clean-up at No Name Beach

On Sunday, September 25, a beach clean-up was conducted at No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire. The clean-up was organized by STCB and STINAPA as part of the annual International Coastal Clean-up effort sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy. No Name Beach is Bonaire's primary hawksbill and loggerhead nesting beach and maintaining unobstructed access to beaches for egg laying females is extremely important to the survival of these endangered animals.

As in other years, the cruise ship “Freewinds” supported the effort, providing food and drinks, as well as extra volunteers. Thirty two people participated in the clean-up and 37 bags of trash were collected. The trash was sorted and the types of trash collected was recorded on data forms which are sent to the Ocean Conservancy. Ocean Conservancy releases an annual report with the results of the clean-up sites all over the world and the data is used to help formulate strategies for reducing marine debris.

The International Coastal Clean-up is the world’s oldest and largest volunteer effort to clean up our marine environment. Each year, volunteers remove trash and debris from their local beaches, rivers, lakes and streams – along shorelines and under the water. Since 1986, over five million volunteers in 123 countries have cleaned 130,000 miles of shoreline – over five times the circumference of the earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The clean-up crew at No Name Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The identification tag in the photo incorrectly shows the date as 11 June. It should read 11 July.

Jul 11 2006: Fatal entanglement at Playa Chikitu - Green Turtles Trapped in Net

Tourists visiting Washington Slagbaai National Park found a large fishing net on the shore at Playa Chikitu today. Upon closer examination they discovered that two sea turtles were entangled in it. Unfortunately, one of the turtles was dead but they managed to release the other unharmed. An earlier visitor to Playa Chikitu had informed the park management about the net and park rangers were already on route to the site. The dead animal was turned over to them and they in turn contacted Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both turtles were Green turtles and the rescuers estimated that they were approximately the same size. The dead Green turtle measured 38.8 cm carapace, weighed 6.8 kg and from all appearances seemed to be in very good health prior to his entanglement and subsequent drowning. The estimated age of the turtle was approximately 12 years old and it was not tagged.

“Incidental catch in fisheries is widely recognized as a major mortality for sea turtles. Perhaps the greatest threats to juvenile and adult sea turtles worldwide is their incidental capture during fishing activities; with trawling, longline fishing, driftnets, lobsters and fish trap lines, and gillnets causing the most damage. The result is often death by drowning due to forced submergence following entanglement within the gear. Discarded or lost fishing gear also contributes to this problem.” (David Gulko & Karen Eckert).

Jun 15 2006: Beach Restoration at Boka Onima Completed

 

 

 

 

 

 

STCB's Mabel Nava and Gielmon ‘Funchi’ Egbreghts at the newly restored beach

Members of Dienst Ruimtelijke Ontwikkeling en Beheer (DROB) in cooperation with members of the Sea Turtle Conversation Bonaire (STCB) have completed the restoration of the beach at Boka Onima.

On August 9th last year, STINAPA rangers interrupted sand removal activities at Boka Onima, but not before multiple truck loads of sand were removed, and the beach was ravaged. With the sand, at least two turtle nests were destroyed. Shortly after, a few more turtles came ashore and were not able to lay their eggs because of the shortage of sand. Restoration was necessary. Now, we are pleased to announce that the work has finally been completed. STCB hopes turtles will return this season to nest at Boka Onina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aerial view of the new beach at Boka Onima

This is not the first time that sea turtle nesting beaches have been lost to sand-mining. Years ago the beaches at Playa Grandi, Boka Lagun and Boka Washikemba were very important nesting sites for sea turtles. The sand from these beaches was taken and used in construction. The result is that at this time hardly any turtle eggs are being laid at these locations. The few times that eggs have been laid at these sites they were deposited in shallow nests due to the lack of sand and sea water infiltrated the nests destroying the eggs.

This is the first time in the history of STCB that a nesting beach has been professionally restored. STCB plans to monitor the Boka Onima closely to see if the sea turtles return to lay eggs during this nesting season. If nests are laid, they will be monitored to ensure successful hatching.

By now, it should be commonly known that sea turtles are protected on Bonaire, the Caribbean and for that matter all over the world. Bonaire has recently adopted laws that better protect the sand on sea turtle nesting beaches but it is unclear exactly when these laws will become effective. STCB would like to see these laws put into effective immediately and hopes that they are vigorously enforced.

May 5 2006: Update Boka Onima: agreement reached!

On May 3, after months of delay and inaction, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DROB) finally agreed to a restoration plan for Boka Onima. Present at the meeting were: Miguel Martis, Frank van Slobbe and Joselito Statia from DROB, Mabel Nava and Gielmon “Funchi” Egbreghts from Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB). If you will remember, last August, all the sand was removed from Onima and two sea turtle nests were destroyed. With the sand gone and nothing but stones and rubble left behind, there was absolutely no way that sea turtles would ever nest again at Boka Onima. Now because of the efforts of STCB, STINAPA and local press, radio and community members, the prospects are good that we will once again see nesting activity there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The soon to be restored beach at Boka Onima

Specifically, DROB will work according to a remediation plan developed by STCB and restore the beach with enough sand so that turtles can nest at the site. The work will be done under the supervision of STCB staff members with the goal to leave Onima in optimal condition for the upcoming nesting season. Per the agreement, DROB will start working on the restoration on Monday, May 8 and complete the work by the following Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean-up Crew at Boka Onima

In an attempt to bring additional local attention to the lack of progress on the work at Boka Onima, STCB had organized a clean-up of Boca Onima for yesterday, May 4. With the agreement in place, the clean-up went on as scheduled in an atmosphere of optimism and joy rather than protest. A group of teenagers representing SGB (the local high school), Jong Bonaire, and the Junior Ranger and “Working by Experience” programs of Sentro di Bario Noor Salina spent the afternoon cleaning the area in preparation for the restoration. As always, SELIBON pitched in to make the clean-up a success.

Apr 22 2006: Earth Day Clean-up at Lagoen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As in past years, STCB and STINAPA organized a beach clean-up during the Earth Day celebration. This year SELIBON, the island’s department of sanitation, also helped to organize the clean-up at Lagoen.

The clean-up was conducted over a two-day period. Day 1 was Friday, April 21, with STCB and SELIBON working with a front-end loader to remove numerous large and heavy logs that had accumulated and were covering the entire beach.

Much to the surprise of everyone, a group of youngsters were already working when STCB and SELIBON staff arrived on the scene. These Bonairean youths, between the ages of 10 and 19 years old, had been camping close-by at Porta Spañola the day before and had heard about the clean-up while listening to the radio. They went to Lagoen and seeing the large trash containers that SELIBON had already brought to the site, they decided to start the clean-up by themselves. The entire group cleaned during that Thursday afternoon and came back Friday and again Saturday to work. Working over the course of three-days and even bring their own tools to do the job, these youngsters are a great example for the entire community to emulate.

Day 2, Saturday, April 22, was a big success. Building on the prior day’s efforts, over 40 people worked to clear almost all the debris that was covering the sand. Five trash containers were filled. In addition to the youngsters noted earlier, there were a number of local people pitching in to do their part. Linda and Chili Ridley, the lead volunteers for the Bonaire National Marine Park, organized a large group of “cruisers” off the sailboat to join in the effort.

Between the two day’s of work, 7 large trash containers were filled with debris and 7 big truck loads of trash were removed with the front-end loader on Friday. Hopefully and with the continued support from SEILIBON, we can work to maintain this beautiful place and keep it clean. Why wait until next Earth Day to clean Lagoen? Wind and waves tons of trash throughout the year but if we clean it more often, the people of Bonaire will have another wonderful place to spend their free time.

Also on Saturday, the entire staff of STINAPA and other volunteers cleaned-up Playa Chikitu in Washington-Slagbaai National Park.

STCB, STINAPA and SELIBON would like to thank all the people involve in this clean-up. You all did a great job!

Apr 11 2006: Nutrient Study Sponsored by STINAPA

Coral Reef Nutrient Monitoring Bonaire and Curaçao
First round successfully concluded.

Brian Lapointe and volunteers in Bonaire preparing for a dive at Angel City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 28, 2006. Last week the first round of nutrient monitoring on the reefs of Bonaire and Curaçao was concluded with a last dive at Watamula Reef in Curaçao. A total of twenty sites, ten in Bonaire and ten in Curaçao, were visited over a nineteen day period. On each site video transects were recorded, water samples taken, and various algae samples collected, both at 60 ft and at 20 ft depths. A total of eighty water samples and more than 220 algae samples were subsequently processed and carried to the US by Brian Lapointe to be analyzed in specialized labs. The results of this analysis are expected in about a month time, when a start can be made with interpreting the data.

Meanwhile, some general preliminary impressions were formed with regard to nutrient impact on the reefs of Bonaire and Curaçao. First of all it became clear that there definitely is an impact of nutrient pollution on some of the reefs on both islands. Compared to many other places in the Caribbean, the reefs of Curacao and Bonaire still generally look to be in good condition, but signs of nutrient pollution were seen on both islands. On average the reefs in Bonaire were less impacted than those of Curacao, but both islands had some sites that are a cause for serious concern. One particular site in Bonaire showed blooms of various species of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) including the toxic Lyngbia (implicated in the development of disfiguring fibropapillomas in sea turtles), and elevated incidence of coral diseases and corals killed over the past few years. In Curaçao several sites such as Caracas Bay and Piscadera had many dead corals and presented luxurious growth of various macro-algae such as Lobophora, Halimeda, and Dictyota. Some sites in the vicinity of resort areas showed alarmingly luxurious growth of Dictyota and relatively high incidence of Black Band disease. Sites within the town area both in Bonaire and Curacao had clear nutrient indicator macro-algae growing on the rocks in the surf zone, and there is no question that they are being impacted by nutrient pollution, but the other sites will have to await the lab results before any clear conclusions can be drawn.

The specialized laboratory analysis will test for very low levels of dissolved inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus, and will provide a measure of the amount of phytoplankton (floating one-celled algae) in the water. The collected algae samples will yield ratios of nitrogen isotopes in the algae tissues, indicating the source(s) of the nitrogen. Natural sources of nitrogen, fertilizer nitrogen, and sewage nitrogen all have different signatures. When luxurious algae growth coincides with a signature of fertilizer or sewage nitrogen there is clear cause for concern.

Frank van Slobbe and Ramon de Leon, coordinators of the Bonaire nutrient monitoring effort, familiarizing themselves with a Dissolved Oxygen meter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any conclusions, even after the lab results come in, must also take into the account the possible seasonality of nutrient sources, e.g. increased run-off or mixing of ground water with sea water because of the rainy season. That is why this is only the first round of monitoring. It will be repeated quarterly for a year. Over the past couple of weeks volunteers in Bonaire and Curaçao had the opportunity to observe how the sampling is done, how the water samples must be carefully filtered after the dive, avoiding any contamination, and how to distinguish various species of algae. They will now continue the monitoring every three months to produce a complete picture of the nutrient situation of the reefs from which clear conclusions and recommendations can be drawn.

To learn more about nutrients, macro algae and coral reefs you can download the following:

Presentation given by Dr. Brian Lapointe in Bonaire and Curacao (Powerpoint 8 MB)

Articles:

Lapointe, Brian E. and Katie Thacker: “Community based Water Quality and Coral Reef Monitoring in the Negril Marine Park, Jamaica: Land-based nutrient inputs and their ecological consequences” (PDF, 5 MB)

Lapointe, Brian E. 1997: Nutrient thresholds for bottom-up control of macroalgal blooms on coral reefs in Jamaica and Southeast Florida (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Paul C. Hoetjes
Senior Policy Advisor
Department of Environment & Nature (MINA)
Ministry of Public Health & Social Development (VSO)
Schouwburgweg 26 (APNA building)
Curaçao
Netherlands Antilles
tel. +(599-9)466-9307; fax: +(599-9)461-0254
e-mail: paul@mina.vomil.an
web: http://mina.vomil.an

Mar 21 2006: STCB Year report 2005 is ready!

Click here to download the report (pdf-format; 3,3 MB)

Feb 23 2006: In-water surveys update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you may know, we have been conducting ‘in-water surveys’ 3-days per week, with two or three volunteers accompanying STCB staff members in the water for two 1-hour snorkeling sessions each day. The surveys started all the way down at the southern end of the west coast of the island at Fort Oranje Lighthouse the 16th of January and have reached Playa Benge off the Washington-Slagbaai National Park in the north yesterday, February 20. Thus far, 55 turtles been recorded: 12 hawksbills, 42 green and one loggerhead. Of the 22 turtles actually caught, 5 were recaptures of previously tagged turtles. One of the recaptures was a healthy juvenile hawksbill approximately 8-9 years old that had been previously tagged in the same area in January 2003. It had gained 6.2 kg and grown 13.4 cm in interval, a good rate of growth. One untagged turtle we caught last week was a very large male loggerhead. To some of us this was a surprise because we expect to see loggerheads on Bonaire only during the breeding season. Perhaps we have a small resident population of loggerheads year-round or perhaps he was on his way to his breeding or foraging grounds. Continuing the in-water survey activity will eventually help us better understand the composition, size and health of Bonaire’s sea turtle population.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to learn more about the Sea Turtles of Bonaire, the next time you are on the island you can attend our slide show. It is given the 2nd and 4th Wednesday’s of each month at 7pm at Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn. We are also willing to arrange special presentations for groups of moderate to large size. If you are interested, please contact Mabel Nava at stcb@bonaireturtles.org.


Jan 10 2006: Letter to all dive operations on Bonaire

Kralendijk, 10 January 2006
To: All Dive Operations on Bonaire


Dear Manager:

I would like to inform you that Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire has started doing in-water surveys around Bonaire.

In order to conduct the in-water surveys, reef areas are partitioned into approximately 1 km long sections and examined by 4 people swimming parallel to the coast and followed by our boat. Sighted turtles on reef sites are identified by species and approximate size, and we attempt to capture the turtle either by free diving or with SCUBA.

The principal goal of the in-water surveys is to periodically determine the species composition and size of the turtle population in their foraging areas. By using standardized methods, any trend in population size should become detectable in a few years. Further objectives are: to establish a base of marked animals; to begin measuring recruitment rates of small turtles to the area; to measure growth rates and local movement range; and to collect other data on individual turtles.

Captured turtles are brought aboard the boat for tagging and measurement. Locations of turtle captures are recorded by GPS and once procedures are completed, each animal is released at its exact location of capture. Measurements taken include carapace length and width, tail length, and body mass (using a spring scale). Additionally, digital photographs are taken of all turtles brought onboard the boat and unusual body features (deformities, scars, barnacles) are noted.

Please inform your staff that we are planning to do these in-water surveys every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the months of January, February & March. After that you will receive more information about our field activities.

Because it is very important that all Dive Instructors and Dive Masters on the island are aware of this project and are able to explain to divers and other guests who we are, what we are doing and why our work is important for the protection of the sea turtles, we would like to offer a special presentation for your staff about sea turtles and our work. We also depend on volunteers to assist with the in-water surveys and we are always looking for help. Therefore I would like to invite you, your staff members or guests and clients to join us. Please contact me via e-mail or phone if you are interested in either of the above items or have any questions.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Mabel Nava
Project Director
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire

Phone: 717 2225 - Cellular: 780 0433

Oct 28 2005: The fourth and final turtle tracked from Bonaire this nesting season is the female hawksbill 'Mariposita'

Working into the early hours of Thursday, October 27, a team of STCB staff members and volunteers released 'Mariposita' at 2:45 am, after affixing a satellite transmitter to her carapace. This is the fourth and last turtle that we will be tracking this nesting season. The turtle came ashore at No Name Beach, Klein Bonaire at approximately 9:15 pm the previous evening to lay a nest.

'Mariposita' is the smallest adult female we have observed nesting and we think she is quite young. She measured only 80 cm (straight carapace length) and her weight is estimated to be only 60 kg. Typically it takes anywhere from 15 to 30 years for a hawksbill to reach maturity and they can live to be 60 years old or greater.

Students from the local high school, SGB, submitted names for this turtle as part of the year long sea turtle conservation education campaign initiated by the

Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA). The winning name was submitted by by freshman Angelina Maria Julia Rodriguez. 'Mariposita' is Spanish for 'Little Butterfly, an absolutely perfect name for our tiny hawksbill. Angelina will be presented with a STCB custom made tee shirt from Gaia Productions. 'Mariposita's transmitter is sponsored by the Rotterdam Zoo which also sponsored 'Happy's transmitter.

Earlier, this season, the female Loggerhead "Happy" was tracked from her nesting beach at Klein Bonaire to her feeding area off the Vieques passage, over 730 km away. Male Hawksbill 'Albert' is currently around Klein Bonaire and we expect him to leave any time. 'Jenni', another female hawksbill who is currently traveling in northwestly direction away from Bonaire is over 400 km away.

As this year's turtle nesting season comes to an end, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire will begin planning for next season. Potential sponsors for next year's turtle tracking effort are invited to contact Mabel Nava (599 717 2225, 780 0433, stcb@bonaireturtles.org) for details. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire exists to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire's sea turtle populations throughout their range. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network.

Oct 22 2005: Stake-out at Playa Chikitu

Our plans call for us to track one more turtle this season. A team from STCB and STINAPA have been at Playa Chikitu in Washington-Slagbaai National Park the last four nights waiting for a green turtle that should be coming ashore to nest. Thus far, no luck.

Oct 14 2005: Female Hawksbill 'Jenni' is the third turtle tracked from Bonaire this nesting season

A Female Hawksbill turtle nesting on No Name Beach (Klein Bonaire) was fitted with a satellite transmitter Thursday night by a team from Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) and Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire (STINAPA). This is the third turtle that will be tracked during the current nesting season on Bonaire.

Based on the pattern of Hawksbill turtle nesting activity observed on Klein Bonaire during the last few weeks, STCB staff predicted the possible return of a Hawksbill turtle to the beach on Wednesday or Thursday night. A field team consisting of Fernando Simal (Washington Park manager, STINAPA), Patricia Gorrin (filming crew), Gielmon Egbreghts and Mabel Nava (STCB), set out at night to monitor No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire. Around 9:15 p.m. a large female Hawksbill turtle was found on the beach digging a hole for placing her nest. As soon as she began laying eggs she was measured (93.6 cm straight carapace length) and tagged on her front flippers. An hour later, after she finished her nesting activity, the approximately 130 kg turtle was intercepted by the team on her way towards the sea and a transmitter applied to the top of her carapace. At 12:30 am the female Hawksbill turtle was released and she quickly departed into the calm waters off Klein Bonaire.

The pattern of nesting female Hawksbills is to lay about 4 to

6 nests per season with an interval of 14 to 16 days in between nests. 'Jenni' is expected to lay one or more nests before departing to her feeding grounds.

Hawksbill 'JENNI' will be the third turtle to be tracked from Bonaire during the 2005 nesting season. Tracking of this Hawksbill turtle is made possible by a full sponsorship provided by Michael and Jenni Stanfield.

Earlier , the female Loggerhead 'Happy' was tracked from her nesting beach at Klein Bonaire to her feeding area off the Vieques passage, over 730 km away. Male Hawksbill 'Albert' is currently around Klein Bonaire and we expect him to leave any time.

The turtle tracking works through signals sent out by the transmitter, which is switched on whenever the turtle comes to the surface to breathe. These transmissions are then collected by Argos system receivers onboard weather satellites that circle the globe, yielding location data for each turtle that are e-mailed daily to Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.

As this year's turtle nesting season comes to an end, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire will try to find at least one more nesting turtle to track. Potential sponsors for next year's turtle tracking effort are invited to contact Mabel Nava (599 717 2225, 780 0433, stcb@bonaireturtles.org) for details. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire exists to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire's sea turtle populations throughout their range. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST).

Sep 25 2005: International Coastal Clean-up

On Sunday, September 25, a beach clean-up was conducted at No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire. The clean-up was organized by STCB and STINAPA and is part of the annual International Coastal Clean-up effort sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy. Our clean-up was a big success with 75 people participating. Most of the volunteers were teenagers from Bonaire with groups from SGB (the local high school), Jong Bonaire and the scout troop, "Grupo Trupial." Also participating was a group off the cruise ship Freewinds. At the end of the clean-up, the Freewinds provided food and drink for the hungry participants.

No Name Beach is Bonaire’s primary hawksbill and loggerhead nesting beach and maintaining unobstructed access to beaches for egg laying females is extremely important to the survival of these endangered animals. Eighty bags of trash were collected. Students from SGB were in charge of documenting the composition and quantities of the trash. The data will be sent to the Ocean Conservancy and along with other data from clean-ups all over the world, will be used to help formulate strategies for reducing marine debris.

STCB and STINAPA organize two clean-ups each year and we hope to see even more people at the next one.

Clean-up Participants at No Name Beach - STCB Photo

Aug 13 2005: 'Schillie' revisited - Male Hawksbill Still Off Klein Bonaire

In 2003 Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire launched its satellite tracking program under the direction of Robert van Dam. The second turtle Robert fitted with a transmitter that year was a female hawksbill named ‘Schillie’. ‘Schillie’ traveled from Klein Bonaire to Mona Island, Puerto Rico, arriving there at the beginning of January, 2004.

Robert is now directing another project at Mona Island and informed us the other day that ‘Schillie’ had been found while they were conducting in-water surveys off Monito Island, an even smaller island near Mona. Her satellite trans-

‘Schillie’ October 2003 (STCB photo)

 

mitter was still in place but carefully removed prior to her release.

We believe that this is something of a first for sea turtle tracking: a Project Director, running two separate programs at different points in time, finding the animal in both its nesting and foraging places approximately 700 km apart, and lovingly removing the transmitter.

We tip our hats to Robert and his colleagues at Mona Island and look forward to seeing ‘Schillie’ back around Bonaire in the not too distant future.

 

The male hawksbill turtle sponsored by the Freewinds cruise ship is still with us. He was photographed August 8th off Ebo’s Reef by Roger Burnham. Thanks Roger.

Aug 10 2005: Protest Against Illegal Sand-Mining Activities at Boka Onima

Dear Friends,

On Monday morning, August 9, while patrolling the north-east coast of Bonaire, rangers of the Bonaire National Marine Park stopped a group of people engaged in illegally removing sand from the beach at Boka Onima. The work was being done at the direction of DROB, the governmental unit charged with environmental protection here on Bonaire. A massive quantity of sand had already been removed from the beach and transported away. Two sea turtle nests were destroyed as a result. That same night a turtle came ashore to lay a nest only to discover there was no sand left in which to deposit her eggs - her tracks were discovered the next day.

In Boka Onima, just as on other beaches on Bonaire, it is against the law to take sand. Further, in 1991 the island council of Bonaire amended the Marine Ordinance, giving complete protection to sea turtles, their nests, and eggs.

STCB and STINAPA are organizing a demonstration at Boka Onima for today, Wednesday, August 10, to voice the public outrage over DROB's reckless disregard for the island's laws and marine park regulations. If you are on the island please join us. A bus will be leaving for Boka Onima at 4:45 PM from the STCB office. The office is located on Kaya Grandi right behind Bon Fysio.

If you are not able to attend, please sent us your comments via e-mail and we will see that they get forwarded to the proper people.

Aug 9 2005: Illegal sand mining at Boka Onima destroyed two turtle nests

Monday morning (Aug 8) while patrolling the north-east coast of Bonaire, rangers of the Bonaire National Marine Park stopped a group of people from illegally mining sand with heavy machinery.

The rangers arrived at Boka Onima where they caught a few men on heavy machinery taking sand. In Boka Onima, just as on other beaches on Bonaire, it is against the law to take sand. In 1991 the island council of Bonaire amended the Marine Ordinance, giving complete protection to sea turtles, their nests, and eggs. Also in 1996 the Central Government signed a Sea Turtle Treaty in Caracas to protect sea turtles. The sand-mining activity that took place here at Boka Onima, is in direct violation of the ordinance. STCB's Mr. Egbreghts who also appeared on the site, was extremely distressed when he observed that the illegal activity was in the area of two confirmed sea turtle nests, and in his estimation the nests have been destroyed.

The men with the heavy machinery informed STINAPA that they were acting on orders of DROB. STINAPA has referred this issue to the Island prosecutor.

The former beach at Boka Onima

Heavy machinery was used

July 30 2005: Nesting activity at Washington-Slagbaai National Park

On Saturday night, July 30th, the Abdul family and some friends were spending the night at Slagbaai and had the chance to witness the hatching of the first reported nest in that area this year. While barbequing, the group noticed hatchlings emerging from their nest. But instead of heading to the ocean, the hatchlings started marching toward the salina apparently attracted by the light of the barbeque fire. Recognizing that there was a problem, they contacted Chief Park Ranger George Cultura who advised them what to do. The family members and friends collected all the hatchlings in a bucket and successfully released them into the sea. Chief Ranger Cultura immediately called Mabel Nava, the Project Director for Sea Turtle Conservation (STCB) about the incident.

The next morning Mabel Nava traveled to the park and surveyed the now empty nest. As part of STCB's on-going research program, she counted the hatched shells as well as the number of eggs that did not hatch. This episode provides us all with a snapshot of how well our community cares about sea turtles and sea turtle conservation. STCB would like to express our sincere appreciation to everyone involved with the rescue. Because of there prompt and positive action, 94 hatchlings made it into the sea!

July 15 2005: First Nest discovered at Washington-Slagbaai National Park

After receiving a call from Washington-Slagbaai National Park Chief Ranger, George Cultura informing us that there were turtle tracks on the beach at Playa Chikitu, STCB staff went to check and confirmed the first nesting activity of 2005 in the Park. The nest is thought to be from a green turtle. It was necessary to relocate the eggs because the nest was too close to the water line. When this happens the moisture level of the sand in the nest is too high and causes the eggs to rot and the developing turtles die. Last year we observed a similar instance at Playa Chikitu and lost most of the eggs in that clutch. Luckily some were relocated in time to be saved. We are confident that because this nest was reported so promptly that this time all of them will develop normally. Our thanks to Chief Ranger Cultura.

Note: Replacing a nest is not a common practice, and we only do it when there are factors that place the health of the clutch at risk. Moving the nest has to be done with extreme care and is not something that inexperienced people should undertake on their own. If you see a turtle nesting or think you have discovered a nest please leave the nest undisturbed and contact STCB immediately.

"Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire exists to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire's sea turtle populations throughout their range"

June 28 2005: Donation by Rudy van der Meer

Recently we received the following communication from Rudy van der Meer:

 

Dear Mabel,

On the occasion of my retirement from Akzo Nobel, my friends
have donated EUR 7.000 to the foundation "Sea Turtle Conservation
Bonaire." You will receive this amount in the coming weeks .
I am sure you will make good use of this!

Keep the good work going and see you next time.

Kind regards ,
Rudy van der Meer

Sea Turtle Conservation would like to express its sincere thanks for the generosity of Mr. van der Meer and his friends. We depend on grants and donations to continue our research efforts and our work to protect the sea turtles of Bonaire.

June 25 2005: Female loggerhead 'Happy' is the second turtle to be tracked in 2005 nesting season

After receiving a report from Buddy Dive yesterday afternoon that they had seen a large loggerhead turtle at the Monk's Haven dive site off Klein Bonaire, staff of Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire and volunteers found the large female later that evening and successfully affixed a satellite transmitter to her carapace.

The female loggerhead has a shell length of 99 cm and is estimated to weigh about 130 kg. The turtle was found near the Southwest Corner dive site at approximately 6:20 pm and released back into the water after the tagging, measurement and transmitter application procedures.

Adult loggerhead turtles come to Bonaire to breed from May through July. 'Happy' is expected to remain in the area and lay one or more nests before departing to her home feeding grounds.

Tracking of this turtle is being made possible by a full sponsorship provided by the Rotterdam Zoo. The Zoo has decided to call her 'Happy'. 'Happy' is the second turtle fitted with a satellite transmitter this year. On 8 June, the first of these transmitters was attached on a large adult male hawksbill turtle. The yet to be named turtle is still in the area around Klein Bonaire.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire exists to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire's sea turtle populations throughout their range. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network.

(Photo credits: STCB)

Volunteers Isaiah J. Pardo, Jose Bernabela, Andy Uhr and STCB staff Gielmon "Funchi" Egbreghts releasing the adult female loggerhead fitted with a transmitter sponsored by the Rotterdam Zoo.

June 9 2005: Satellite tracking of turtles from Bonaire starts with release of adult male hawksbill

Sea turtles have started to breed on Bonaire again, which means that the big adult turtles are back on the reefs of Klein Bonaire and along Bonaire's southwest coast. Adult turtles visit Klein Bonaire for only a few months every 2 to 3 years, coming from their feeding grounds far away. To adequately protect sea turtles in all their habitats, we must learn more about their migratory patterns, their behavior at sea, and where their marine habitats are located. This is where the technology of satellite telemetry becomes useful and important in protecting sea turtles.

Building on the success of the last two years of tracking turtles from Bonaire, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) plans to place up to four transmitters on turtles in 2005. On June 8, the first of these transmitters was attached on a large adult male hawksbill turtle. This animal was found swimming just off the nesting beach at Klein Bonaire, then caught by STCB staff and lifted on board the research boat "Nancy Too" for transmitter attachment.

The male hawksbill has a shell length of 83 cm and is estimated to weigh about 70 kg. The turtle remained calm throughout the tagging, measurement and transmitter application procedures. After fitting the transmitter, the turtle was released where he was found near Klein Bonaire's "No Name" beach.

Tracking of this male hawksbill is made possible by a full sponsorship provided by the cruise ship "Freewinds". The turtle will be given a name by the sponsor soon. STCB staff expects that this hawksbill will remain near Klein Bonaire to breed for possibly one or two months and then depart to return to his feeding grounds.

Turtle tracking works through signals sent out by the transmitter, which is switched on whenever the turtle comes to the surface to breathe. These transmissions are then collected by Argos system receivers onboard weather satellites that circle the globe, yielding location data for each turtle that are e-mailed daily to Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire. Turtle locations are mapped frequently and available on the website www.bonaireturtles.org.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire exists to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire's sea turtle populations throughout their range. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network.

(Photo credits: STCB)

Volunteer Isaiah J. Pardo and STCB staff Gielmon "Funchi" Egbreghts releasing the adult male hawksbill fitted with a transmitter sponsored by cruise ship "Freewinds".
Adult male hawksbill swimming at Klein Bonaire after attachment of a transmitter sponsored by cruise ship "Freewinds".

May 31 2005: Large rocks are placed to block vehicle access to beaches

Now that the nesting season for sea turtles on Bonaire is about to go into high gear, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB), STINAPA, Cargill Salt Bonaire and Selibon have begun placing large rocks to block vehicle access to a number of sandy beach areas on the southwest corner of the island. Under the guidance of STCB's Gielmon `Funchi' Egbreghts and Marine Park Manager Ramon DeLeon, the barriers are being placed to prevent driving on the sand beach around the Atlantis and Margate Bay dive sites, the area between Kabaié and Peliké.

Notice of this action, which is prevent compaction of the sand in sea turtle nesting areas, has been given to all dive shops. Flyers and posters have been placed in key locations on the island. This means divers, kiters and beachcombers will have to walk a few extra feet after parking their cars.

According to Mabel Nava, the STCB project director, it is the first time her organization has taken steps to prevent driving on the beach. Special thanks go out to STINAPA, Selibon and Cargill Salt Bonaire N.V. for assistance in the project.

May 18 2005: STCB Year report 2004 is ready

Click here to download the report (pdf-format; 1,9 MB)

May 12 2005: 2005 nesting season has begun

On May 3rd the first nest of the season was discovered and confirmed at No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire. Since then two other nests have been confirmed by STCB staff. The staff members happened to be working on Klein Bonaire on the afternoon of May 4th and were surprised when they saw a hawksbill laying her eggs. Normally sea turtles nest at night and the staff members were thrilled to witness this rare daytime occurrence.
 

Apr. 23 2005: In water survey season has started / Donation by mr. Prikker / Jong Bonaire getting ready for the Beach Clean-up

This picture of the turtle is from last Thursday, STCB staff is conducting the in water surveys (capturing turtles, to tag, measure and weigh them, to collect data for the research project) We do these in water surveys every Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays until

June. We started in the very south (Red Slave) and we will end in the very north (Malmok). This big turtle, is a male Loggerhead that we captured north of the salt Pier. It took some effort, but at the end we managed to do it. We would like to invite people to join us during these surveys, in one hand to have help and in the other so people can experience what we are doing and learn more about turtles. To come with us, people can contact us by e-mail and Mabel Nava will give more details and schedule the person.
Mr. Rob Prikker retired and the Nafl. 500,- he got as a present he donated to STCB last week. He also will be joining us next Tuesday in one of the surveys and offered to help in the future as a volunteer. We would like to express our gratitude's to Mr. Prikker.
A group of kids from Jong Bonaire, getting ready for the earth day clean up, next sunday 24th.

Apr. 20 2005: Stinapa and STCB would like to invite you to join in with the "Earth Day" Beach Clean-up

Feb. 19 2005: Turtle sighting form now available in downloadable PDF-format

Click here to download side 1 of the form - Click here to download side 2 of the form

Feb. 1 2005: Press Release - Jong Bonaire and Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire are going diving...

Mabel Nava founder of the diving program for Jong Bonaire (2001-2005) and now the new Project Director of STCB, has volunteered to keep on running the teen diving program for Jong Bonaire members as part of her new job.

STCB has a commitment to providing educational activities related to the conservation of sea turtles, so the new joint effort is a great opportunity to further this work. The two organizations will now assure the continuity of this three year old program, which has been working for the teens of Jong Bonaire in a very successful way.

Mabel Nava wants to inform all the dive operations involved in this program that for them everything will remain the same. The difference will be her contact number, which as of first of February will be 717-2225 or 790 0433.

Jong Bonaire and STCB want to invite all the teenagers certified divers to become members of Jong Bonaire and dive with us every Wednesday afternoon.

A little history about the teen diving program:
* This activity started in 2001.
* The goal of this activity is to provide the teens with the opportunity to do the open water PADI course and practice this sport with the center every Wednesday afternoon.
* Teens who have the interest to keep on doing more courses (such as advance, rescue, dive master, instructor) also have the chance to exchange work for the courses.
* Communication is constant between the dive operation, the parents and Jong Bonaire. It is important for the teens that this program does not interfere with their school progress.
* Results in numbers of graduated divers and their levels reached to date: 28 open water divers - 10 advanced - 9 first aid - 4 rescue divers - 3 dive masters - 1 instructor.

Left to right: Fabricio Rombley, Roderick Gonzalez, Mabel Nava, Lisa Schut, Norvin Mercelina.

Jan. 25 2005: Press Release - Tragic death of green seaturtle at Lac

The first news we have to bring in 2005 on behalf of our sea turtle outreach campaign, is unfortunately not a happy one. But it once again shows the importance of such an effort to educate and inform the public on the dangers sea turtles face. Yesterday a green turtle was found in the waters of Lac after suffering a tragic death.

The turtle was found by two Dutch students, who are currently conducting a study on Bonaire for CARMABI, STINAPA'S sister foundation on Curacao, on predator fish. The two men were diving at the dive site "White Hole" at an approximate depth of 15 meters, when they noticed a sea turtle upside down in the sand. When they turned the turtle over, they realized it had a fishing line stuck in its mouth but the turtle had unfortunately already died. They immediately took the turtle over to STINAPA, who then called the Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB). STCB is in charge with research on sea turtles and was asked to pick up the dead turtle.

Upon arrival at STINAPA, Gielmon "Funchi" Egbreghts, examined the turtle and gave the following information on the turtle and its cause of death. The turtle was a 47.1 cm long green turtle. The turtle was no older than 10 years and it also was a turtle STCB tagged and had done research on previously, on the 18th of March 2004. This could be determined by the fact that the turtle had an STCB blue tag attached to its left fin. Cause of death was the swallowing of a fishing line. Not only did the fishing line get stuck in its throat, but it also went through its digestive system and ended up coming out of the turtle's behind. Just imagine what this poor defenseless turtle went through before dying.

This is not the first time that a sea turtle dies from or gets stuck in a fishing line. There have been reports of two cases this year alone of two turtles that got stuck in fishing lines and late last year there was a report of a turtle that died from a fishing line. Fishing lines or other garbage such as plastic get stuck very easily to sea grass, sponges or other sources of food eaten by sea turtles. As the turtle is eating, it slowly starts swallowing the fishing line. This is exactly what happened to the turtle that was found dead yesterday. Unfortunately this turtle did not even reach a quarter of its lifetime and it did not get a chance to reproduce. A sea turtle can reach an age up to 60 years old and it takes 15 to 20 years for it to reach maturity and be able to reproduce.

What is remarkable about this turtle is that back in March 2004 when it was tagged, it measured approximately 37 cm. This shows a record growth of almost 10 cm in less than a year. This indicates that the area of Lac is highly nutritional, not only for sea turtles but also for other fish that breed in Lac. That is why it is important to continue protecting the area of Lac.

On behalf of STINAPA Bonaire, Sea Turtle Conservation, Coral Resource Management and Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance we want to make an urgent appeal to all fishermen, people who engage in hobby fishing, but also all others: PLEASE DO NOT THROW FISHING LINES OR ANY OTHER TRASH IN THE OCEAN. Fishing lines take hundreds of years to degrade under water. We come and go and generations after us, that same fishing line will still be in the water. We know better and can help these animals. It is a small effort that can ensure a long life for our sea turtles, but also all other creatures who live in these waters. You too can help, protect our sea turtles!

Jan. 12, 2005: Press Release - Protect our sea turtles

PROTECT OUR SEA TURTLES

An information, education and outreach campaign about the protection of sea turtles and their habitat

On the 1st of November 2004, STINAPA Bonaire, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) and Coral Resource Management, launched an island-wide information,
education and outreach campaign based on the protection of sea turtles and their habitat.

This project is an initiative of Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), a recently formed foundation that represents the interests of nature conservation management organizations of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. The campaign runs simultaneously on Bonaire, St. Maarten, Saba and Statia and is based on the approach by the RARE Center for Tropical Conservation, developed and used for the very successful "Save the Lora" campaign, launched on Bonaire in 1998. The new campaign that will run throughout the year 2005 is being tailored around sea turtles and meets the specific needs of each of the islands.

A logo originally designed by STCB is being used on Bonaire to make all the program's products easily recognizable. The logo with its slogan "Proteha Nos Turtuganan" (Protect Our Sea Turtles) surrounds the head of a Green Turtle.

While much of the emphasis will be on school aged children, the program is intended to reach all sectors of the community with the goal being to educate, change attitudes and build grass level support for sea turtle conservation. Discussions have already begun with local merchants to get them to use the logo on suitable products and various activities have been brought to the attention of the media.

Plans on Bonaire are moving ahead at a rapid pace and quite a few items and activities have already been developed. Among the items already completed are a questionnaire, buttons, an attractive brochure and a poster. Other items near completion are a 'rap song' with sea turtle conservation as its message for play in schools and on local radio, a turtle costume, bumper stickers, school visitation programs and the first two issues of a monthly newsletter for school children have already been published.

The poster is a color affair depicting the life cycle of sea turtle superimposed over the Caribbean Sea and highlighting the path taken by Bonaire's first satellite tracked turtle, Nautila. As part of its work, Nautila was fitted with a satellite transmitter by STCB in October, 2003 and followed as she made her way back to her home feeding grounds over 900 km away at the Navidad Banks north of the Dominican Republic. She was the first of two turtles tracked in 2003. Additional 4 turtles have been tracked in 2004 and this year's tracking program is intended to be the high point of the DCNA sea turtle conservation program.

Jan. 12 2004: Press Release - Mabel Nava to join the STCB team

Mabel Nava will be joining the STCB team as Project Coordinator working along with veteran Project Assistant Funchi Egbreghts. The two will be continuing the turtle monitoring activities begun by Dr. Robert van Dam. Mabel has been working with Jong Bonaire for the last three and a half years.

Dec. 10 2004: New set of postage stamps dedicated to sea turtles unveiled

At a ceremony attended by Bonaire's Governor and representatives of Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, STINAPA, and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, the Netherlands Antilles postal service unveiled a new set of very nice postage stamps dedicated to sea turtles. The stamps depict six species of turtles: the Loggerhead, Kemp's Ridley, Green turtle, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill and Leatherback. The unveiling ceremony was highlighted by the Governor releasing five Green turtle hatchlings that had been rescued from a nest only the previous day into the Caribbean Sea at the Plaza Resort.

Dec 2., 2004: Press Release - Visit to Klein Bonaire as part of the campaign "Proteha nos tortuganan"

Kralendijk, 2 December 2004 - The campaign "Protehá Nos Turtuganan" involves activities to create awareness among youngsters about the protection of sea turtles and their nesting beaches.

On Monday 29 November, after launching the first edition of the campaign's information sheet to all schools, STINAPA received a call from Sea Turtle Convervation Bonaire that hatchlings in a hawksbill nest were ready to emerge in the afternoon. STINAPA then invited a group of children from Rincon's Kolegio San Luis Bertran, who participate in the snorkeling program "Turtuganan di Boneiru", to watch the hatchling's emergence. Together with Robert van Dam and Gielmon Egbreghts of Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire and also Debby Wauben of STINAPA, the group went to Klein Bonaire in two boats.

The nest was laid on No Name beach on 4 October by a hawksbill. After the group arrived, the hatchlings had already mostly emerged, but the children were able to see the last four baby turtles leave towards the sea. STCB estimates that about 130 hawksbill turtles came out of this nest. Normally a hawksbill lays around 150 eggs in a nest and comes to shore to lay four to five times per season. The area of Klein Bonaire, Playa Mangel or Windsock next to the airport are some the beaches most used by hawksbill turtles for nesting. The season for hawksbill nesting extends from June to December. Now we are reaching the end of the nesting season for hawksbilll turtles on Bonaire.

The photos show children of Rincon's Kolegio San Luis Bertran watching how the last two baby turtles leave their nest.


Nov 24., 2004: Press Release - Doi Boekhoudt, the 'legend of Lac Bay', joins in effort to protect Bonaire's sea turtles

Kralendijk- Mr Doi Boekhoudt joins the effort to protect the sea turtles of Bonaire. Shaking hands with staff from the Bonaire National Marine Park and Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB), Doi, who is a long-time resident of Lac Bay, declared that he will work to keep turtles in the bay safe from poachers. Harming sea turtles is prohibited on Bonaire since 1991. The 'Legend of Lac Bay', as Doi is also known, said that although he has caught thousands of sea turtles in Lac Bay during his lifetime, these animals should now be protected, and that he will be watching Lac Bay and beyond, to ensure that no more turtles are killed. In recent years, Doi has turned over several live sea turtles that were accidentally caught in his fishing nets to STCB staff for tagging and release back into the lagoon.

Lac Bay is of special significance to sea turtles because it features extensive seagrass pastures where Green and Hawksbill turtles feed. STCB staff estimate that more than 100 juvenile Green turtles use Lac Bay for feeding during the daytime. Another big group of subadult Green turtles lives on the reefs just outside of Lac and these animals may also feed inside the lagoon, entering and leaving through the Cay channel during the night.

Doi Boekhoudt joins the island-wide outreach and education campaign “Protehá nos Turtuganan”, that started this month, an initiative of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance in cooperation with STINAPA, Fundashon pa Bon Koral and Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire aims to protect sea turtles through education, research and taking conservation actions. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network. STCB is supported by the Netherlands Antilles' Department of Environment & Nature Conservation through a grant from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Photo caption: Bonaire Marine Park Ranger Zudmar Obispo (left) and Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire's Gielmon 'Funchi' Egbreghts (right) with Doi Boekhoudt (center), after he pledges to protect the turtles of Lac Bay.

Nov 23., 2004: Press Release - Tracking hawksbill 'Funny', this season's last nesting turtle on Klein Bonaire

Kralendijk- A hawksbill turtle (karet) nesting on No Name Beach, Klein Bonaire, was fitted with a satellite transmitter Monday night by a team from Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB). This is the fourth turtle to be tracked during the current nesting season, and the second hawksbill, after 'Tom' the male hawksbill was tracked moving towards the northeast Caribbean earlier.

Based on the pattern of turtle nesting activity observed on No Name Beach during the last two months, STCB staff predicted the possible return of a hawksbill to the beach for Monday night. However, an early morning survey on Monday morning revealed that a turtle had already been active on the beach on the previous night, but due to sand conditions did not manage to lay a nest. A field team consisting of Hanny Kalk, Gijs Hoogerkamp, Andy Uhr (volunteers and STCB webmasters), Gielmon Egbreghts and Robert van Dam (STCB staff), and others, set out at night to monitor No Name Beach for nesting activity. Around 8:20 p.m. a large hawksbill turtle was found digging a hole on the beach for placing her nest. She soon began laying eggs and was then measured (92.3 cm curved carapace length) and tagged on her front flippers. After completing her nest, the approximately 65 kg animal was intercepted by the team and a transmitter applied to the top of her carapace. At 10:45 pm the hawksbill turtle was released and she quickly departed into the sea. The nest that 'Funny' just laid is probably her fifth nest on Klein Bonaire for this season, and we expect her to start migrating towards her feeding habitat soon.

Hawksbill turtle ‘Funny’ will be the fourth turtle to be tracked from Bonaire during the 2004 nesting season. Tracking of this hawksbill is made possible by a sponsorship provided by Martix BV.

Earlier, the female Loggerhead ‘Extra’ was tracked from her nesting beach at Klein Bonaire to her feeding area off the coast of Honduras, over 1500 km away, male Hawksbill ‘Tom’ towards the northeastern Caribbean, over 600 km from Klein Bonaire, and we are currently tracking green turtle 'STINAPA' as she moves towards the Nicaraguan coast, some 1550 km from Bonaire.

The turtle tracking works through signals sent out by the transmitter, which is switched on whenever the turtle comes to the surface to breathe. These transmissions are then collected by Argos system receivers onboard weather satellites that circle the globe, yielding location data for each turtle that are e-mailed daily to Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.

As we begin to track the departure of 'Funny', this year’s turtle nesting season has come to a very succesful end. Potential sponsors for next year’s turtle tracking effort are invited to contact Robert van Dam (599 717 2225, 790 0433, stcb@bonaireturtles.org) for details. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire aims to protect sea turtles through education, research and taking conservation actions. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network. STCB is supported by the Netherlands Antilles' Department of Environment & Nature Conservation through a grant from the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This month, November, marks the start of the 2004-2005 island-wide outreach and education campaign “Protehá nos Turtuganan”, an initiative of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance in cooperation with STINAPA, Fundashon pa Bon Koral and Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.

Hawksbill 'FUNNY' with sponsors from Martix BV
Departure of Hawksbill 'FUNNY' at No Name Beach

Nov 1., 2004: Press Release - Green turtle 'Stinapa' is the third turtle tracked from Bonaire this nesting season

Kralendijk- A Green turtle (turtuga blanku) nesting on Playa Chikitu in Washington Slagbaai Park was fitted with a satellite transmitter Sunday night by a team from Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) and Stichting Nationale Parken – Bonaire (STINAPA). This is the third turtle to be tracked during the current nesting season and the first Green turtle ever fitted with a transmitter on Bonaire.

Based on the pattern of Green turtle nesting activity observed on Playa Chikitu during the last few weeks, STCB staff predicted the possible return of a Green turtle to the beach for Monday night. A field team consisting of Debby Wauben (STINAPA), Fernando Simal (Washington Park manager, STINAPA, Hanny Kalk (volunteer and STCB webmaster), Gielmon Egbreghts and Robert van Dam (STCB) set out at night to monitor Playa Chikitu for nesting activity. Around 8 p.m. a large Green turtle was found already up on a sand dune and busy digging a large hole for placing her nest. She soon began laying eggs and was then measured (95.5 cm straight carapace length) and tagged on her front flippers. An hour later, after she covered her nesting area extensively with sand, the approximately 140 kg animal was intercepted by the team on her way towards the sea and a transmitter applied to the top of her carapace. At 11:40 pm the green turtle was released and she quickly departed into the rough surf off Playa Chikitu.

Green turtle ‘STINAPA’ will be the third turtle to be tracked from Bonaire during the 2004 nesting season. Tracking of this Green turtle is made possible by a full sponsorship provided by STINAPA.

Earlier, the female Loggerhead ‘Extra’ was tracked from her nesting beach at Klein Bonaire to her feeding area off the coast of Honduras, over 1500 km away. Male Hawksbill ‘Tom’ is currently underway towards the northeastern Caribbean, over 600 km from Klein Bonaire where he was found in July and remained until mid-October.

The turtle tracking works through signals sent out by the transmitter, which is switched on whenever the turtle comes to the surface to breathe. These transmissions are then collected by Argos system receivers onboard weather satellites that circle the globe, yielding location data for each turtle that are e-mailed daily to Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.

As this year’s turtle nesting season comes to an end, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire will try to find at least one more nesting turtle to track. Potential sponsors for next year’s turtle tracking effort are invited to contact Robert van Dam (599 717 2225, 790 0433, stcb@bonaireturtles.org) for details. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire aims to protect sea turtles through education, research and taking conservation actions. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire is also an active member of the 2004-2005 island-wide outreach and education campaign “Protehá nos Turtuganan”, that started officially today, November 1st, 2004.

Green turtle 'STINAPA' with Gielmon 'Funchi' Egbreghts
Departure of Green turtle 'STINAPA' at Playa Chikitu

Oct 4., 2004 - Press Release: Newly established working relationship between the Bonaire National Marine Park, STINAPA and the Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire / BNMP Rangers assist with STCB sea turtle research

KRALENDIJK - Starting this week, Rangers with Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP) are joining in sea turtle research effort that Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) launched two years ago. This cooperation will enable the Rangers to expand their knowledge of sea turtle biology and the many conservation issues that affect these animals and their habitats. With this joint effort, Stinapa and STCB are initiating a new phase in their collaborations, aimed at continuing the comprehensive sea turtle research begun in August 2002 for as long as possible.

The research being conducted includes determining the number of turtle nests laid on Bonaire's beaches, with emphasis on Klein Bonaire, and assessing the distribution of sea turtles living on the reefs and seagrass beds. The principal objective of this work is to learn whether the sea turtle population is increasing, decreasing, or remaining stable. Sea turtle populations are under threat of extinction worldwide. Longterm research is essential to guide effective management actions on behalf of sea turtles, both locally as regionally.

For the next few months the cooperative effort will focus on intensive daytime checks of the nesting beaches at Klein Bonaire as well as in-water surveys of turtles on the reefs. During these surveys turtles are caught for tagging and measurement, then immediately returned to the water. The purpose of these surveys is to measure population size of adult turtles using the nesting beaches and find out how many juvenile turtles are using the nearshore waters as foraging grounds. Next year the Rangers of Washington Park are to be included in research effort. The focus there will be mainly to better monitor the nesting beaches in the park.

In the long term, it is expected that Bonaire will be hosting training workshops on sea turtle research for students and wildlife managers from throughout the region. The current research effort is unique in the southeast Caribbean. The data collected from Bonaire so far indicates that there is some increase in the nesting activity on Klein Bonaire, which may also be seen in other nesting beaches such as those at Washington Park and the southwest of Bonaire. A "nest counter" on the STCB website www.BonaireTurtles.org keeps track of the number of nests laid on Klein Bonaire so far this year.

Photo:
STCB project assistant Gielmon 'Funchi' Egbreghts and BNMP-Ranger George Saragoza on their way to the nesting beaches of Klein Bonaire.

 

Sep. 26, 2004 - Press Release: Dutch edition of National Geographic features Bonaire Sea Turtles / Aandacht voor Bonaireaanse schildpadden in Nederlandstalige editie van National Geographic

ENGLISH PRESS RELEASE: Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) is being featured in the October, 2004 issue of National Geographic (Dutch edition). Satellite tracking of mature sea turtles has not only caught the attention of the broad public but has also caught the attention of renowned Dutch magazines like National Geographic and 'Grasduinen'. This is the second time in two years that STCB has received coverage in the highly prestigious National Geographic, a magazine for science and education. The magazine has a monthly circulation of 200,000 issues. National Geographic is accessible on the internet at www.nationalgeographic.nl.

To date, four Bonairean sea turtles have been fitted with satellite transmitters. Two female hawksbills and one female loggerhead have been tracked back to their home feeding areas after nesting on Bonaire. One of the hawksbills traveled back to Mona Island near Puerto Rico while the other one returned to the Navidad Banks north of the Dominican Republic. The loggerhead is about 150 km off the coast of Honduras. Typically, female sea turtles return to the place of their birth to nest about every 3 years or so. The fourth, male hawksbill 'Tom' is still in right off Klein Bonaire where he was tagged in July. We expect him to start his journey to his home feeding grounds at any time. In October/November two to four more hawksbill sea turtles will be fitted with transmitters. For more information about Bonairean sea turtles and STCB, you can log on to www.BonaireTurtles.org.

DUTCH PRESS RELEASE: In de komende oktober editie van de nederlandstalige National Geographic wordt er ruim aandacht besteed aan de activiteiten van de Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB). Het volgen per satelliet van volwassen zeeschildpadden die uitgerust zijn met een zender blijkt niet alleen een zeer grote aantrekkingskracht te hebben op het gote publiek maar ook op tijdschriften zoals National Geographic en Grasduinen. Het is al de tweede keer in een tijdsbestek van twee jaar dat STCB aandacht krijgt in het prestigieuze blad voor wetenschap en educatie. Het blad heeft ondermeer een maandelijkse oplage van 200.000 exemplaren. Het tijdschrift is ook via het internet te lezen en wel op nationalgeographic.nl. Momenteel zijn er vier Bonaireaanse zeeschildpadden uitgerust met een zender . drie ervan bevinden zich ver van Bonaire (Mona Island, Dominicaanse Republiek en Honduras) en zullen voorlopig daar blijven. Nummer vier, het Karetmannetje 'Tom', bevindt zich nog voor de kust van Klein Bonaire en kan elk moment gaan beginnen aan zijn (verre) reis naar zijn fourageergebied. In de maanden Oktober/November zullen nog eens drie tot vier karetvrouwtjes worden uitgerust met een satellietzender. Meer informatie over het werk van STCB vindt u op www.BonaireTurtles.org.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED !
STINAPA/Bonaire Marine Park is hosting a clean-up on Klein Bonaire for Sunday, September 26. Boats will leave from Harbor Village Marina at 6:30 AM and 7:30 AM. The plan is to clean the coast from Nearest Point south. There is no place to beach the boats so plan on getting wet getting from and to the boat. They expect we'll be done by 12 noon. Bring water, sunscreen and a pair of gloves. Plastic trash bags will be provided. We hope to see you there!

Sep 16. 2004 - Press Release (Amigo): Yearly clean-up Klein Bonaire (Dutch article)

Sep 4. 2004 - Press Release (Amigoe): Tracked loggerhead turtle 'Extra' has found her destination (Dutch article)

July 13. 2004 - Press Release:  

MALE HAWKSBILL 'TOM' IS SECOND TURTLE TRACKED FROM BONAIRE BY SATELLITE THIS SEASON

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire's turtle tracking effort expanded today after the release of an adult male hawksbill turtle (karet) fitted with a satellite transmitter at Klein Bonaire. The large turtle, with a shell length of 85 cm and distinguishable from females by its long tail and hooked nails on its front flippers, was caught in the morning by STCB staff Gielmon Egbreghts and Robert van Dam at Ebo's Reef and lifted into their research boat 'Nancy Too'. A small transmitter was then attached to the shell of the turtle, which will make it possible to follow the movements of this animal for up to a year. The large hawksbill was released later in the morning at the same location where it had been caught.

Male sea turtles almost never return to land after entering the water as hatchlings and very little is known about their behavior. Male hawksbills are thought to breed every year, as opposed to females who return only every 2-3 years. Also, males may not travel as far as females, because of their need to return to the breeding area every year. Male sea turtles are known to depart from the breeding area earlier than females, which is why a male was selected for transmitter placement now, while it is still early in the hawksbill nesting season.

The turtle tracking works through signals sent out by the transmitter which is switched on whenever the turtle comes to the surface to breathe. These transmissions are then collected by Argos system receivers onboard weather satellites that circle the globe, yielding location data for each turtle that are e-mailed daily to Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.

Tracking of this hawksbill turtle is made possible through a full sponsorship provided by Bob Bartikoski of REMAX Bonaire. This hawksbill is named 'Tom' in memory of Bob's brother, who was a resident of Bonaire. The movements of 'Tom' will be mapped regularly and this information will be available on the website www.bonaireturtles.org.

Two more transmitters will placed on Bonairean sea turtles this summer and there is an opportunity for sponsors to name one more animal. Please contact Robert van Dam (599 717 2225, 790 0433, stcb@bonaireturtles.org) for details. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire aims to protect sea turtles through education, research and taking conservation actions. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network.


July 12. 2004: New turtle tracking program and website

We have the pleasure of announcing the start of a new turtle tracking program with the release on July 9th of a massive loggerhead that we fitted with a satellite transmitter. This turtle nested the next day on Klein Bonaire and may be already on the move. News about this turtle is available through our redesigned website, and we plan to provide frequent updates of turtle movements and other relevant news here.


July 9. 2004 - Press Release:  

SATELLITE TRACKING OF TURTLES FROM BONAIRE STARTS WITH RELEASE OF MASSIVE LOGGERHEAD

Sea turtle nesting is in full swing at Klein Bonaire this summer, which means lots of nests on the beach, baby turtles running towards the water, and big mother turtles that make it all happen. These big turtles visit Klein Bonaire only during a few months every 2 to 3 years, and it remains a mystery where they go after leaving Klein Bonaire. Building on the success of last year's tracking of two hawksbill turtles, 'Schillie' and 'Nautila' Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire is continuing this research in 2004 with the placement today of the first transmitter on a massive female loggerhead turtle. The aim of this work is to find out where 'our' turtles live, how they get there, and learn of potential threats they face during their migration.

Today's loggerhead has a shell measuring over 1 meter in length and is estimated to weigh at least 140 kg. She was caught Friday morning at 'No Name' beach, Klein Bonaire, and quickly fitted with a small transmitter that was glued onto the carapace, before her release back into the water. The turtle was very cooperative and remained calm throughout the procedure. Upon release she swam straight back to the reef, where the turtle will rest until she needs to crawl onto the beach again to lay another nest. As soon as this turtle has laid her last nest, containing about 120 eggs, she is expected to migrate back towards her feeding grounds.

The turtle tracking works through signals sent out by the transmitter which is switched on whenever the turtle comes to the surface to breathe. These transmissions are then collected by Argos system receivers onboard weather satellites that circle the globe, yielding location data for each turtle that are e-mailed daily to Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire and mapped on the website www.bonaireturtles.org.

 

This loggerhead turtle remains unnamed and there is an opportunity for sponsors of this turtle tracking effort to name this animal. Please contact Robert van Dam (599 717 2225, 790 0433, stcb@bonaireturtles.org) for details. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire aims to protect sea turtles through education, research and taking conservation actions. Founded in 1992, the STCB is a Bonaire-based, non-governmental and non-profit organization, part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network.

2003 Turtle Tracking

We zijn bezig twee zenders op twee volwassen karet-schildpad vrouwtjes uit te zetten, met als doel hun bewegingen te volgen als ze eenmaal klaar zijn met eier-leggen hier op Bonaire. Vorig weekend hebben we zo'n satelliet-zender op een schildpad geplakt, en tot nu toe heel goede data binnen gekregen, want de schildpad is sinds gisteren vanaf Bonaire vertrokken richting het noorden. Aangezien er niets ligt tussen hier en Puerto Rico, wordt het heel interessant te zien hoe ver ze zal zwemmen. We hebben goede publiciteit hierover op Bonaire, o.m. deze week voorpagina Bonaire Reporter (to be translated). Photo: Junior and Ikki with transmittered Hawksbill turtle.

2002 nesting season update

Nesting activity on the beaches around Bonaire appears to have been strong this year. With the sandy beaches of Klein Bonaire serving as the Index Beach for nesting activity, we can report a total of 27 confirmed nests, most of them laid by hawksbills. However, because the present survey methodology was introduced only starting early October, this number should be considered a minimum. An estimated 40 to 50 nests were probably laid on Klein Bonaire this year. Photo: Trapped hatchling hawksbill rescued from nest.

New project director

As of October 1st, Dr Robert P. van Dam started as the Project Director for Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire. Robert has extensive experience in research and conservation projects with hawksbill turtles. He received his PhD from the University of Amsterdam and has done field research in Antarctica, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. In the Caribbean, he has extensively studied marine turtles' growth rates, movement, diet and behavior (ecology and population dynamics). Photo: Robert van Dam and Monica Bustamante with a hawksbill in Puerto Rico.

 

 

 
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire - P.O. Box 492, Kralendijk, Bonaire, NA - Phone: +599 717 2225 - E-mail: info@bonaireturtles.org

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