Bonaire Partners with Coral Restoration Foundation

BONAIRE ONE OF THE FIRST CARIBBEAN ISLANDS TO PARTNER WITH
CORAL RESTORATION FOUNDATION

**Local Initiatives to Preserve Genetic Diversity of Staghorn and Elkhorn Corals
Augmented by the Coral Restoration Foundation**
Kralendijk, Bonaire – The “Bonaire Reef Pilot Project” was born when Ken Nedimeyer’s Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) was invited to visit the island by Buddy Dive Resort to work with and assist Bonaire with their continued efforts to preserve Bonaire’s greatest assets, its reefs. The project centered on the restoration of the shallow reefs by establishing a nursery and restoration program designed to cultivate staghorn and elkhorn corals and for this purpose the Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire was established.

“We’re very fortunate to be working with CRF and to be able to combine our efforts to preserve the current genetic diversity of our staghorn and elkhorn corals.  Given the fact that Bonaire is world renown for having some of the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean, it’s the ideal place for this project to prosper and in turn encourage other islands to follow suit,” commented Anja Romeijnders, President of Tourism Corporation Bonaire. “Coral restoration is a very important part of revitalizing the marine environment and we are proud to be taking the first steps towards accomplishing this task,” Mrs. Romeijnders continued.   

In addition to working with local scientists to identify specific sites for coral nurseries and reef outplantings, CRF will collect different genetic strains of staghorn and elkhorn coral, that will be used to populate coral growing trees in two coral nurseries. These corals will be monitored and maintained by the local support group trained by CRF and will form the base nursery stock that will be fragmented every six months to develop second and third generation corals in each genetic subgroup. In late 2013, these second and third generation corals will be taken from the nursery and planted back on the reefs.

The main coral nursery is located on Klein Bonaire, where there is limited public access and minimal disturbance for the growing corals. The second nursery is located at the South and North end of Buddy Dive Resort’s coral reef, and is utilized as a training and demonstration nursery.  Mrs. Romeijnders concluded, “We’re eager to get the entire Bonaire community involved in this project.  Education is key to the success of all our programs and we are working hard to generate awareness both locally and to our visitors.  We encourage divers and snorkelers to participate in our coral restoration project. They can even adopt their own staghorn or elkhorn coral and monitor its growth; this is a long-term project for all of us.”

Located eighty-six miles east of Aruba, the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire offers year-round sunshine, low annual rainfall, pristine coral formations and the most thriving fish population in the Caribbean. Ideal for adventurers, explorers and sun-worshippers alike, Bonaire offers myriad eco-adventure activities including world renowned scuba diving and snorkeling, windsurfing, kiteboarding, mountain biking, sea and mangrove kayaking, horseback riding, nature tours, hiking, bird watching, sailing and deep sea and bone fishing. And with a selection of accommodations ranging from full-service oceanfront resorts and condominiums to guesthouses and small inns, Bonaire has something for every lifestyle and budget.

Bonaire is the recipient of the prestigious Islands Magazine/Caribbean Tourism Organization 2008 Sustainable Tourism Award and continues to be recognized as one of the top destinations worldwide for its sustainable tourism. It was designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as having the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean (January 2008) and in 2011, Bonaire was voted one of the top five Snorkeling Destinations in the Caribbean by the editors of Caribbean Travel & Life. For 19 consecutive years in Scuba Diving magazine’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards, Bonaire has been selected as the number one Shore Diving destination in the Caribbean/Atlantic. This year, it was voted one of the Best Destinations Overall, number one for Marine and Macro life, and for Snorkeling also in the Reader’s Choice Awards.

For more information on Bonaire contact the Tourism Corporation Bonaire in the U.S. at 1-800-BONAIRE or visit Bonaire’s official web site at www.tourismbonaire.com. Follow Bonaire on Twitter and Facebook.

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