Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire started in 2012 as a non-profit pilot project to collect and grow two coral species with the aim to restore damaged sites around the island. They have grown into a foundation responsible for multiple nurseries and restoration sites, five partner dive shops, hundreds of trained volunteers, new methods and species of propagation and the planting of more than 27,000 corals to sites on Bonaire.
While the results from the processes for growing and outplanting staghorn and elkhorn coral have been outstanding, it is newer methods and coral species that hold even more promise for restoration efforts in Bonaire’s waters.
(Feature Photo – Diver swims over 5 year old staghorn outplants at Jeff Davis dive site. Credit: David Fishman)
Under the guidance of Francesca Virdis (a Scuba Diving Sea Hero award winner for her work), Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire (RRFB) is not resting on its laurels.
The recent introduction and techniques required to grow boulder coral species, like star coral, (which grow differently from the branching staghorn and elkhorn species) will expand the diversity of outplanted corals on the reefs. The foundation plans within two years to produce 6,000 boulder corals annually, using newly designed nurseries specific for their growth habits.
In addition, RRFB has established a scientific partnership with coral conservators Secore International that brings the leading-edge technique of larval propagation to Bonaire. By collecting released egg and sperm bundles during coral spawning and fertilizing the eggs in vitro on land, they can rear and settle coral larvae to be outplanted back to the reef.
The potential to dramatically increase the number of corals outplanted along with the ability to add additional species could lead to more diversity of the reefs’ genetic makeup. And that diversity offers greater chances for success in today’s environment.
The Bigger Picture
While Bonaire is blessed with some of the worlds healthiest coral reefs, environmental conditions are changing and will continue to do so. The threat to coral is at a critical point due to multiple factors. Increasing coral reef resiliency and overall biodiversity can help reverse their declining health.
It is clear that visiting divers and snorkelers are a key contributor to sustaining RRFB’s work. Dive tourism must be a mechanism to assist in solving the problems marine resources are facing.
Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire states a mission of not only Science and Education, but one of Hope. And that hope takes form in the actions of dedicated preservationists — proving people can positively affect the future of our coral reefs.
But they need our assistance. Here’s how you can help.
When you donate to Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire you are directly funding Bonaire’s reef restoration efforts. Your gift helps RRFB produce and maintain corals in their innovative nurseries along with the outplanting and monitoring of coral thickets around Bonaire. You become an integral part of restoring Bonaire’s coral reef ecosystem for future generations.
Your donation for as little as $10 helps to sustain these restoration efforts. Likewise, their Adoption Programs provide a tangible way to support coral propagation. You can Adopt A Coral, Adopt a Tree or Adopt a Thicket and your advocacy and gift will be an example for the entire Bonaire dive community that treasures its marine environment.
Have you ever considered adding more purpose to your diving? Through the partner dive shops of Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, education and hands on training are available that can turn your dive vacation into a lifelong stewardship of coral reefs.
Participating dive shops include Beyond the Corals, Buddy Dive, Great Adventures at Harbour Village, Tropical Diver and WannaDive at Eden Beach.
Join a Discover Reef Renewal Dive (half day / 1 dive; $65) and learn how to conduct a nursery/restoration site survey and participate in coral maintenance activities in one of the coral nurseries.
If you want to take it to the next level the PADI Reef Renewal Diver Distinctive Specialty (2 days / 3 dives; $220) includes classroom session and 3 training dives to learn all the techniques involved in the reef restoration process. You will participate in all the activities carried out on the nurseries and restoration sites.
Once you have completed this PADI course, you are eligible to become a volunteer with RRFB. This unmatched experience will find you in the coral nurseries, assisting in maintenance activities and outplanting corals to restoration sites around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire. Opportunities to serve as a volunteer diver are available for scheduling every week throughout the year.
Visiting guests can bring needed items on the RRFB Wish List that is posted on their website. And internships are available for students and graduates seeking a season of full time immersion into the foundation’s work.
We are dedicated to supporting Reef Renewal Foundation 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 coral reef system.
Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire needs us … but we need them even more.
You can learn more about Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire on their website at https://reefrenewalbonaire.org/
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