On Saturday, October 12, 2013, 108 volunteer divers collected their tanks from Dive Friends Bonaire @ Port Bonaire and headed over to Te Amo Beach. This is the beach that was recently made famous online when volunteers from Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire formed a human wall during a hatching to keep the baby sea turtles from being disoriented by the lights from Bonaire’s Flamingo Airport.
Te Amo Beach is not only popular with sea turtles; it’s also a popular site for parties and BBQs. The jetty and the fuel pier are both used frequently by fishermen. Therefore, the beach and dive site was definitely in need of a little love from the mix of local residents and visiting tourists who all wanted to help the environment of Bonaire. Asko Zuidam of Dive Friends Bonaire provided a safety briefing to address what items should be collected and explained that anything with coral growing on it or creatures living inside of it should be left behind. He also gave an explanation of how to carefully remove fishing line so as not to damage delicate sponges or corals.
After the briefing, the divers entered the water at the beautiful sand beach. Some divers swam over to the Fuel Pier and some divers cleaned around the jetty. When their bags were filled with marine debris, they brought the bags to the surface and handed them over to the Dive Friends crew who were working as shore support. Volunteers checked once again to be sure that no marine creatures had been inadvertently included. Then, everything was counted, tallied for Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program, and disposed of responsibly.
The debris collected by volunteers definitely reflected the beaches popularity with revelers and fishermen. Over 3,279 items of marine debris were removed. The most significant items removed were 223 pieces of fishing line. Other items included: 788 cigarette filters, 163 items of plastic cutlery, 33 food wrappers, 51 plastic straws, 264 plastic fragments, 83 glass bottles, 68 cans, 784 bottle caps, 72 pieces of rope, 65 fishing hooks and much more.
Discarded fishing line poses a serious threat of entanglement and drowning to endangered sea turtles, as well as other marine life. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire is targeting the issue with additional “line clean up dives” with tanks supplied by Dive Friends, but it requires constant vigilance around all of the piers of Bonaire.
That evening, all participants and their families were welcomed back for a Pot Luck BBQ and raffle at the recently remodeled Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis. Dive Friends Bonaire (with help from our sponsors) provided drinks and main courses, while participants supplied side dishes. Hamlet Oasis is also the location of the Debris Free Bonaire plastic collection container, so volunteers learned more about the coastal clean-up initiative targeting marine plastic that washes ashore on Bonaire’s east coast.
One of the volunteers was pregnant and therefore unable to scuba dive. She spent the day helping out by assisting with counting the marine debris and keeping the beach safe for baby sea turtles. Later on that evening, she left the BBQ early and delivered a healthy baby boy.
Sponsors for the event include: Bonaire Food Group, At Sea Restaurant, Ouray Sportswear, Bonaire East Coast Diving, Deep Blue Gear, Bonaire Marine Park, Selibon, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, Reef Safe Suncare, Your Scuba Store, Body Glove, Native Outfitters and Reef Footwear.
The next quarterly Dive Friends Bonaire underwater cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, January 11th, 2014.
Additional information about the cleanups is available at: http://www.dive-friends-bonaire.com/activities.html#cleanups . All are welcome to join in.
For more information about the Debris Free Bonaire initiative, visit www.debrisfreebonaire.com.
For more information about Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program, visit http://www.projectaware.org/project/dive-against-debris.
For more information about Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire’s famous hatching at Te Amo, visit http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/07/human-wall-leads-baby-turtles-to-the-ocean/ or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/03/human-wall-sea-turtles-bonaire-photo_n_3540504.html and for more information about their fishing line removal initiative, visit
Dive Friends Bonaire is one of Bonaire’s premier diving facilities with convenient locations at Yellow Submarine, Hamlet Bonaire, Dive Inn, Sand Dollar and at Port Bonaire and three retail stores in Kralendijk. For additional information, visit http://www.dive-friends-bonaire.com.