dive shop staff growing coral strengthen reefs.

Caribbean dive shop prioritizes the “future” ocean

When I’m on vacation, I don’t like to think a lot, especially about topics that make me think. But I’m grateful to the dive shop and its staff at Harbour Village Beach Club resort on Bonaire.

My wife and I attended an evening talk in the open-air restaurant presented by the dive shop manager, Christine Ball. And we walked away with a head full of knowledge and an admiration for people and businesses that invest in their environment’s future.

The Harbour Village dive shop joined the Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire in 2014 and then established the Harbour Village Reef Foundation in 2017. Their main goal is to help restore coral reefs around the island.

Bonaire Harbour Village founded a local chapter of Teens4Oceans.
Bonaire's Harbour Village founded a local chapter of Teens4Oceans.

If you follow eco-news, even sporadically, you know that our planet’s coral reefs are in peril. It’s estimated that we’ve lost 30 percent of all reefs and that 60 percent of the remaining reefs are in danger. The reasons include disease, hurricanes, loss of sea urchins, coral bleaching and rising sea temperatures.

The dive shop crew is active in reef restoration, which is obvious when you snorkel off the resort beach and hover over staghorn coral tree nurseries that resemble old TV antennas strung with coral pieces. You also notice coral pieces glued to rocks in an effort to establish new growth on the ocean floor.

The resort dive shop also helped found a local chapter of the international Teens4Oceans. We’re on a path to hand over a damaged environment to the next generation of leaders, so it makes sense to energize young people who will inherit challenges such as restoring coral reefs. The dive shop also works with international school groups doing field research.

The Harbour Village Foundation sponsors turtle nests.
The Harbour Village Foundation sponsors turtle nests.
Check out the online underwater reef research cam.
Check out the online underwater reef research cam.

Most species of sea turtles are endangered and suffer from poaching, exploitation, habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing nets. These threats are why the dive shop and the foundation sponsor turtle nests. Last year, two of those nests hatched.

My wife and I learned a lot more during the evening presentation. As soon as we returned to our resort room, we checked our sunscreen to make sure it didn’t contain oxybenzone, an ingredient that kills coral by damaging its DNA and causes coral bleaching. Side note, our sunscreen label boldly stated “oxybenzone free” and we plan on only buying that type of product in the future – it’s an action everyone can take to help preserve our ocean ecosystem.

Thanks again to Christine and the Harbour Village Reef Foundation for contributing to Bonaire’s tourism while also devoting time and resources to the future of our oceans. Let’s hope more businesses embrace the same commitment.