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9 April ~ 2020

My first warm water ocean trip was snorkeling out from Key West with Danger Charters. Captain Wendy took us to her an uknown reef that she discovered a couple of years before. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the reef fish, especially the intensity of the blue spots on the black upper body of the Yellow Fin Damsel fish. It was like nothing I had ever witnessed before, and I was hooked.

Since then I have camped out in the Dry Tortugas several times, visited Bonaire in the South Caribbean five times, and in 2018 travelled to the South Pacific to Niue Island to snorkel. In 2019 I made it to the Coral Triangle, spending two weeks on Bunaken Island.

What all these places have in common (except Key West) is that you can access the coral reefs from shore, without having to go out on a boat. I like going out from shore because I can take my time and discover and photograph according to my own desires. I can also stay in the water as long as I am comfortable, which a couple of times has been three hours straight without coming in to shore.

Below are some of my photos from my trips to Bonaire. At the very bottom is text from some of my facebook posts during the trips.

6/6/2015: Its not uncommon to see dying or bleached coral around the world, because of global warming and pollutants and algae cover.  That is not the case in Bonaire. Even shallow water coral that was destroyed by Hurricane Lenny in 1999 is showing signs of growing new coral gardens.  My guide Renee showed me some wonderful spots in our 3 days and one night of snorkeling, and I am truly grateful. I was impressed with the east side of Klein Bonaire (an uninhabited island to the west of Bonaire).  The coral drops in a wall to very deep water. You swim along the deep side of the ledge seeing many fish and healthy coral. Snorkeling from my kayak was new to me, and a good way to see out of the way coral. The key was putting a float on my paddle to stabilize the kayak when I got out in deep water.  I am happy with my trip now that I am back home and reunited with my border collies. (The hardest part was missing my dogs).

What really helps the Bonaire coral is the fishing restrictions in the marine park.  Lots of browsers like Parrot Fish and Blue Tang keep the coral clean and healthy.

 

10/8/2015:

 

finished an ok read last night in lieu of watching TV this week - Pirates, by Celia Rees; appropriate to read a book about pirates sailing the southern seas to avoid the British Navy.  Was going to tell a portion of it for Spellbinders, but it turned out too violent for elementary school. Kayaked out west of town to see the sunset - a good one. Went out to the edge of the reef at Lac Bay, where the Elkhorn Coral is like a forest, and few people go out there because of the distance.  I kayaked out and found a pop bottle buoy to tie my boat off to. Checking on my position in relation to the kayak allowed me to keep my bearings. At one point I got disoriented and swam too close to the edge of the reef where breakers were pushing strong current over. I got banged into some coral while trying to swim out of there.  Amazing that I was in the best coral I have ever seen, and I was the only one out there.

 

10/7/2015 Found a Spotted Drum today, and got some decent photos of it. They stay near the bottom, and retreat to a cave if you get too close. At night they leave their home reef and go out to feed. I am taking a lot of photos, and it will be nice to look through them all on the long (cold) winter nights, and remember how warm and pleasant the Southern Caribbean is. I had dinner at an outside bar during sunset tonight. Noone was speaking English.

 

10/6/2015:decided not to Kayak to Klein Bonaire - have done it twice, and it is stressful to say the least going over rough water 600 ft deep in an 11 foot kayak.  I will kayak somewhere else this week, maybe Lac Bay or up north in the park. (west, calm side). Have spent so much time in the water I didn't get a good meal until after dark.   Talked to someone today who asked where I was from. When I said Colorado, she had a blank look on her face, and asked me 'America?.' Feel ok about leaving the dogs since Katia does so good, taking them on hikes etc.  It looks like Beau found a new friend while I am gone.

 

10/6/2015:First morning in Bonaire.  I am meeting my wonderful guide Renee at 10am, but couldn't wait until then to get in the water.  At 7:30 I snorkeled at Windsock - the only one there. Look at how beautiful and clear the water is, and you might be able to understand why I love it here.  Nature at its best.

 

10/4/2015: I have been finding that snorkeling on the west side of the island just as the sun is going down results in nice rich colors in my underwater photos. Been in the water several times a day for seven straight days.  This evening I was cruising with the Blue Tangs for quite a while.

 

7/3/2015: Rode on the Woodwind again today, this time without being picked up out of the middle of the ocean.  Ziggie offered to let me steer the sailboat, which I took him up on, all the way to Klein Bonaire. Good company, beautiful reefs.

 

6/17/2015: You can tell this is something I love to do when I dream about swimming in a coral reef ocean as my trip gets closer.  Hoping to take the kayak out and snorkel from the kayak this time.

I am going to force myself to not take prolonged free dives.  There is a definite risk of blackout as you surface when you suppress the urge to breath for too long. It happens even if you are fit.  Since I will mostly be alone that would mean I wouldn't get back home to see my border collies.




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