Bon for ‘Bonaire’ and Doet meaning ‘doing’ or ‘to do’ in Dutch.
Bon Doet is the national day for volunteering on the island of Bonaire. Simultaneously various organizations, individuals, and student groups donated their time to improve the island through activities like beach clean ups and weeding cemeteries. I also joined the Bon Doet event but contributed my services underwater through the Coral Restoration Foundation.
Coral Restoration Foundation, based in Key Largo, Florida operates throughout the Caribbean including the island of Bonaire. This nonprofit organization raises baby corals in Christmas tree-like nurseries before transplanting the coral colonies to locations where the coral reef is degraded or absent but was previously abundant.
Selecting to corals breed in these nurseries is a complex process which includes testing the coral’s DNA to ensure that a diverse selection of coral genotypes are represented in each future coral garden. These coral fragments start out the size of a finger and grow to the size of a basketball over the course of 6 months to a year before being moved to the coral reef. While hanging in the nursery, the corals are cleaned each week by volunteers trained by the Coral Restoration Foundation.
In the coral reef ecosystem algae and coral compete for light and space. Therefore, volunteers will scrub the fishing lines and pcv pipe structures of each nursery to remove algal growth which can stunt the progress of the baby corals. With the moderate water currents carrying food and weekly cleanings by volunteers these baby corals are living in the marine equivalent of a 5-star resort.
Though it may sound like a mammoth effort for such a small animal, coral reefs provide a home to numerous fish, protect coastlines from wave action, and are even used for medical research projects. With so many long-term benefits I was happy to devote my time this morning to scuba diving with a scrubbing sponge and brush to remove algae from Bonaire’s future shoreline protection force.
And I learned a new method for attaching corals to a sandy bottom: bamboo poles zip tied together into a square with each corner hammered into the sand. This would be easy to implement in the Philippines too!