Bonaire: A Diver's Paradise

Glassfish with large colony of purple tube sponges and sea rods at Bonaire

A Caribbean island nestled in the Leeward Antilles, warm and sunny Bonaire is a diver’s paradise with lots of shore diving and easy-to-reach fringing reefs, attracting divers at all levels who wish to explore and enjoy its beautiful reefs and marine life. Matthew Meier shares his adventure there.

Fire corals have a bright yellow-green and brown skeletal covering and are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical waters
Fire corals have a bright yellow-green and brown skeletal covering and are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical waters

Fire corals spreading on Caribbean reefs

Sessile organisms, such as corals where adults are immobile and their growth position is determined at settlement, are confronted by unique circumstances arising in that particular location.

In some habitats, anthropogenic effects are causing large changes in community structure, as well as the environmental conditions to which they are exposed.  On a densely populated reef space is a limited resource. One of the ways organisms can win that space is through the strategy of shape.

Great Hammerhead Sharks of South Bimini

Like a fashion model up on the catwalk, great hammerhead sharks sashay into one’s field of vision, and, if they were human, you would probably say they have just “made an entrance”. Their strange mallet-like head, robust body girth and tall sickle-shaped dorsal fin make them well-nigh instantly recognisable, and most other sharks in the immediate area spot that too and give them a wide berth.

Hammerhead, Bahamas
Hammerhead, Bahamas. The great hammerhead—considered endangered by the IUCN Red List—is the largest of the nine hammerhead shark species

Large sharks benefit from marine reserves

Current research has shown that waters off Florida and the Bahamas are important pupping and feeding grounds for several sharks, providing them with the critical habitat required for the conservation of these slow-to-mature ocean animals.

Researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science studied the core home range of 86 bull, great hammerhead and tiger sharks tagged in waters off south Florida and the northern Bahamas.

 Dermochelys coriacea
Leatherback turtle (Filephoto)

Leatherbacks picky about nest sites

A team of researchers from the University of Michigan focused on leatherback sea turtles nesting on St. Kitts, an island in the West Indies southeast of Puerto Rico. The team wanted to know what factors influence where and when the leatherbacks lay their eggs.

It has been suggested that characteristics of the sand, the slope of the beach and proximity to vegetation contribute to the success or failure of nests, but which factors cause female leatherback sea turtles to dig a nest in a particular spot has never been investigated.

Bahamas' San Salvador Island

A fifty-minute flight southeast from the bustle, cruise ships and tourist-centric Nassau, lies the sleepy island of San Salvador. Twelve miles long and five miles wide, she is the tip of an underwater mountain rising from 5,000 metres below (15,000 feet) surrounded by picture-postcard, crystal-clear, blue seas.