Who? Sarina Versteeg, Eva Mudde, Maarten Rutting, Lieveke Crombach
What? Internship with Wageningen Marine Research and Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire
Photos: Maarten Rutting
‘The Coral Restoration Foundation works on reef restoration by reintroducing captive-bred corals. We had to place these corals on the reef and compare the reintroduced populations to wild coral populations. The organization gave us a course on coral handling after which we started to conduct our project independently. We set up our own research protocol and did three months of measurements under water.
It was a big challenge and we were happy to be with the four of us to spread the workload and discuss. For our research we dove for four hours almost every day. Doing research under water is very different from doing it on land as you have to learn to communicate with your buddies. In the beginning we made clear agreements before the dives but later we only needed one glance to understand each other.
We got to know each other extremely well during our internship as we depended on each other. Our working days were long, we lived together and had limited time for ourselves. This led to some difficult situations but we eventually learned how to solve them. We immediately sorted out arguments as they would cost too much of the energy we needed to keep going.
In our free time we often dove together and got a friend group with the locals of Bonaire. They showed us places on the island we never would have discovered ourselves. We went snorkeling in a grot and in the Mangrove forests, where a delivery room with little fishes and sponges hides between the roots. Our experiences in the sea of Bonaire are unforgettable as well. Five days after full moon we did a night dive and suddenly found ourselves surrounded by thousands of little lights. It was just the mating time of the Ostracods (bioluminescent microorganisms) through which the water looked like a sky full of stars and fireflies. We were howling under water because it was so beautiful.
The mating time of the loggerhead-turtles also began when we started our internship on Bonaire. During one of our first dives a loggerhead suddenly headed towards us at high speed. These turtles are quite big and are known as the males sometimes harass divers instead of female turtles. Fortunately, nothing happened, but it was a memorable experience.