Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB), one of the island’s most important leaders in preservation efforts of Bonaire marine life. Endangered worldwide by human actions, Bonaire is home to three species of marine turtles: the hawksbill, green and loggerhead turtle.
(Featured image by Bruce Hood)
Are Sea Turtles Worth Saving?
Research has shown sea turtles often act as a keystone species, impacting all aspects of the marine and coastal beach ecosystems. As a piece of this fragile and interconnected environment, it’s imperative they are protected.
According to their 2019 annual report, recent counts on Bonaire’s west coast and Klein Bonaire estimate 500 green turtles and 70 hawksbill turtles – numbers that indicate a stable population since 2003. Although East coast research is incomplete, the findings show a positive trend in green turtle abundance in Lac Bay, an important foraging site and green turtle ‘hotspot’.
It’s rare to spend a week on Bonaire diving and snorkeling and not see numerous turtles – a clear sign that the work of STCB is helping to accomplish their mission – and worthy of investment. But sea turtle conservation is a never-ending endeavor.
STCB at Work
The work performed by STCB is extensive and includes:
- Satellite tracking via transmitters to study foraging and breeding habits
- Nest monitoring and patrols of beaches recording and protecting nesting and hatchings
- Net-capture surveys with tagging to determine growth rates and abundance
- Transect-count surveys to estimate sea turtle abundance
- Fishing line removal and debris cleanups
- Ongoing education and advocacy
While STCB has only four permanent staff members, they enjoy a team of interns and enthusiastic volunteers to assist. As a non-profit, their funding comes from grants, donations and the sale of unique merchandise.
Protection Through Education
According to STCB director Kaj Schut, “education is key to protecting endangered species. By participating in STCB activities, people visiting Bonaire can learn about sea turtles and the work we do to protect them, while supporting our organization financially. Through our nest monitoring patrols on Klein Bonaire, we share our knowledge with guests, answer turtle questions & raise funds for our organization, all at the same time. “
Another great way to increase your knowledge of sea turtles is to visit their public presentation, which is organized every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month. Held at the Yellow Submarine location of Dive Friends Bonaire, this is also a good time to learn more about local volunteering opportunities and to buy their unique merchandise.
If you don’t have time to go with STCB to Klein Bonaire or attend their presentations, stop by their office at Kaya Korona 53. Their staff is happy to tell you more about Bonaire’s sea turtles, where to spot them while snorkeling or diving, how to know if you’ve seen a green or hawksbill turtle, and answer any other turtle questions you may have.
How You Can Help
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire welcomes visitors to take part and get involved in their conservation efforts.
- Join community beach cleanups
- Participate in a fishing line clean up dive
- Join a nest monitoring patrol with STCB staff. Between May and November, patrols are conducted on Klein Bonaire on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Usually taking 3 to 5 hours, you’ll help patrol about 2 kilometers of beach looking for new and hatched nests. Taking part is by reservation only and your $40.00 participation fee goes directly to STCB efforts.
- Visit STCB’s bi-monthly presentation, organized every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month at Yellow Submarine.
Bonaire’s beaches receive an average of 75 nests each year and protection is critical for hatchling production and genetic diversity. Hatchling Adoption is a popular way to assist in hatchlings reaching adulthood. Your donation will be used to protect nests that are in danger of drowning (relocation) and rescue hatchlings that cannot get to the ocean.
$10 protects one hatchling – Includes an adoption certificate.
$50 protects 5 hatchlings – Includes an adoption certificate plus a hatchling photo.
$100 protects 10 hatchlings – Includes an adoption certificate, a hatchling photo and a species ID card.
$600 protects a whole nest! – Includes an adoption certificate, photos & updates of your nest.
STCB depends on the generosity of visitors worldwide. You can make a difference whether you have $5, $50.00 or $500 to share. 100% of funds received online go directly to the protection of Bonaire’s endangered sea turtles, funding nest monitoring, in-water surveys, clean-up events, turtle rescues, education and awareness programs, training, advocacy and satellite tracking.
Donations to STCB are processed via Paypal by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) of which STBD is a member
Shop STCB Gear and Gifts
You can also buy original STCB T-shirts, research hats and jewelry at the Mangrove Info Center, Dive Inn, VIP Diving, Dive Friends Bonaire Retail Store, Harbour Village Beach Club, Dive Friends @ Delfins Beach Resort and at the STCB office. Because these businesses donate their retail services, 100% of the profits from every STCB item you buy goes directly to sea turtle conservation.
The STCB office (Kaya Korona #53) is open on weekdays between 9:00am and 5:00pm (unless they are out in the field).
We are committed to supporting Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, now and for the future, through donations and creating awareness of their mission and work. This is a chance for visiting divers and snorkelers to make a positive impact on the future of Bonaire’s fragile marine environment.
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire needs us … but we need them even more.
You can learn more about Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire on their website at http://www.bonaireturtles.org/
Boneiru Fuerte – Bonaire Strong. Support Bonaire!