Bonaire – Kai Verheul

Diving in Bonaire: Internship

A story by Kai Verheul

I’ve been doing a Divemaster internship in Bonaire for the last 3 months. One of the most beautiful dives I have made here was with Ostracods. Ostracods are very small crustaceans. Every month, for 5 days after full moon, the ostracods perform a beautiful blue lightshow while reproducing.
The show starts exactly 45 minutes after the sun has gone down and only lasts for about 20 minutes. Although ostracods can be found everywhere around the coast of Bonaire there a couple of spots better than others. The best spots are characterized by a high abundance of shallow soft corals while
being located somewhat away from the center of Kralendijk for less light pollution. In the south, The Lake and Angel City are perfect for ostracods. In the north I would recommend Oil Slick Leap.
To see the ostracod’s lightshow you have to cover your divelight. This can be quite exciting, especially if you have not done a lot of night dives before. But because you are making the dive around full moon, if there aren’t too many clouds, the moon will shine enough light that you can still see most shapes even with your lights off.

Another thing I like about diving in Bonaire is the freedom you get in choosing your dive site. The whole west coast is covered in dive sites that are easily accessable by car. Most dive sites are marked with a yellow stone on the road and another yellow stone in front of the easiest place to enter from shore.
The first 20 meters from shore usually have lots of sand. These are the perfect places for spotting turtles, squids and rays. The reef starts at a depth of 5 meters and goes down to about 30 meters. Between the beautifully collored corals you can find moray eels, lobsters and scorpion fish. If you take a close look at the reef
you can sometimes see very small animals. Small holes in the coral sometimes contain a blenny. Between the tentacles of anemones, cleaner shrimps can be spotted. You can also spot beautiful nudibranches crawling on top of the corals, especially after 20:00. And if you are really lucky you can see a juvenile smooth trunkfish which has to be one of the cutest beings on this planet!
In the blue above the reef there is a high diversity of different species of fish. I always get excited from seeing a tarpon. These are 2 meter long fishes that just float around during the day and hunt during the night (They also like to use your divelight for that :p). The bar jack is also quite abundant above the reef. Sometimes they like to hide under you as a diver and hunt from there.
I once had a bar jack swimming with me for 40 minutes which sort of felt like I was walking a dog.

On the east coast of Bonaire diving is completely different. The surge is usually higher compared to the west coast making it harder (but stille possible) to do shore diving. Lots of turtles can be spotted here because of the seagrass growing in Lac Bay in front of the mangrove. Turtles feed on the seagrass so they are constantly swimming through a channel to go in and out of the bay. Nurse shark can also be spotted on the east coast although they are still rare.
Nurse shark hunt in the mangrove during the night.

Lastly, there are caves on various places around Bonaire where you can snorkel. Eventhough you are underground, the fresh water is still quite warm and the visibility is just magnificent. If you look really good you can sometimes see a shrimp. Just be carefull not to touch the bottom since the silt will make the water murky very quikly 🙂