Bonaire Trip Report and Coral Bleaching

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Posted by Cynde on October 26, 2005 at 00:21:20:

Bonaire Trip - Oct 2005

Story and Photo by Cynde Lee, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced written permission

The water temps were around 89F up to around 30 feet and then gradually dropped to around 87F the first few days. By the end of the trip water temps had dropped to 86F at the surface and around 84F at depth. There were a lot of thermoclines during the 2 weeks, and they were very inconsistent. You could travel through 2 or 3 at the same depth going along the reef. I got to dive a few dives with Susan Porter who lives on Bonaire, author of "Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy" and she has a tremendous knowledge about Bonaire waters and changes. The night we arrived, we all went to dinner and the coral bleaching hadn't started. She said it was going to be an "interesting" week. By about day 4 (around oct 12) we could begin to see it on some of the coral at shallower depths. On a dive around the 14th at a site North, Ole' Blue, there was a LOT. It was very very sad and disheartening. The water was beginning to cool off, but the damage was already being done.

Coral Bleaching in Bonaire, Photo by Cynde Lee

We dove a South site toward the end of the trip and there wasn't quite as much. I asked her about the recovery of the coral that has gone through bleaching and she said it won't die, but it will take a long time to recover depending on how much of the coral has bleached. Some coral heads had just a little, while others had a lot. I didn't see any bleaching on the hard corals, it seemed to be mostly the soft coral. One other thing that we saw that was unusual, a school of 9 barracuda!

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