Today I was woken up at 4:59 a.m. to the beautiful sound of Arran’s voice, yelling “WAKE UP WE GOT TO GO!”. Startled and a bit disoriented, I threw on a swim suit and ran out the door to meet Claire, Barbie, Chris, and Avery for a quick dive briefing. We drove through the dark desert to a beautiful wreck dive at the Buddy Dive resort and started to gear up. The morning dives are so unique because you can see the shift between the nocturnal and diurnal creatures, highlighting the beauty of Bonaire’s oceanic ecosystem. We immediately spotted a Tarpon who had just finished hunting for the night and saw many stoplight parrotfish waking up to start the day. Halfway through the dive we swam over a sunken power boat, watching all the fish who use the wreck as a home. Watching the fish repurpose our wasted materials (plastics, ships, glass… etc.) amazes me. It shows that our careless actions not only damages land biomes, but it forces fish to adapt as well. This was something that has shocked me throughout the trip, our rubbish sticks to coral reefs and creates homes for the fish. Though this can be good short term, it will have long lasting effects on these animals, inspiring me to change my actions in the future to help the marine life, which helps support all life.
After this amazing sunrise dive, we went back to Lizard Inn, met the rest of the group and left around 8:00 a.m. for Jong Bonaire. We were given choices of five different activities to do with the kids. Francisco, Arran, Laurent, Long and I went to go play football/soccer with the kids. I introduced myself in Dutch and asked the kids questions about where they were from and how they liked living on the island. I found it very interesting that many of the kids had grown up in Holland and moved to the island for a few years for their parent’s work. We had similar childhoods growing up in Amsterdam and it shocked me to see how different their lives turned out than mine. Many said they did not enjoy living on the island because they had to sacrifice their education and friends in Holland. Playing with them made me realize how fortunate I am to go to a school like George School and have the opportunities that I do. We connected with the kids over football/soccer, we played four games with GS vs Jong. We were crushed by the kids every game; they obviously spend a lot of time playing outside.
We returned around 11 am and after an insane Avery yoga workout, lunch break, and walk into town we did a late afternoon dive at double reef system called Angel City. This is such a unique reef because it is constructed with two different reefs divided by sand channels reaching down to 60ft. We geared up, did a buddy check, and made our way into the water, trying to avoid the fire coral. This was a fish identification (fish ID) dive to help scientists monitor the health of the reefs worldwide and to recognize changes in indicator species. I have been working on fish ID all week and this was the first ID dive I went on without a fish ID card. I felt as if I finally had a very good understanding of each species of fish and their behavior. After descending, I immediately saw a spotted drum, lots of stoplight parrots, fairy bassets, squirrel, and trumpet fish. Though I have seen these fish almost every dive I never get tired of seeing their movements, scale patterns, and behavior. Watching them allows me to understand the importance of reef conservation and sustainable fishing in order to keep them alive and healthy for as long as possible. Later in the dive, I spotted six black dudgeon triggerfish which are endangered but fantastic creatures. It is a joy to see their movements and how they interact with each other. We also saw two Caribbean reef squids expanding to swim to the surface to get food for dinner. Watching the fish in their natural habitat has changed my understanding of the oceanic ecosystem, increasing my level of respect to these creatures, and my future actions above sea level. Already I have made efforts to clean rubbish everywhere I go and to reduce my overall carbon footprint, but these dives have inspired me to do more. We ended the night by watching the sunset over the crystal blue ocean, all laughing and messing around. An end to the perfect day in beautiful Bonaire.