Sea Monitor – Aug. 15, 2012

Today was another busy day at the office.  I started the photo sorting exercise, and am writing out procedural guidelines as to how I tag and rename the various photo files.  This project will likely take at least a couple weeks to complete, as there are some 10,000 photos to go through.

At lunch, I took Donna, the lady in charge of finances, out for dinner.  Donna told me a bit about her background.  She has been on Bonaire for some time, and could tell me quite a bit about various aspects of the island. She is the lady that told me about Captain Don’s appearances. It is nice to have a local person’s help to edit my blog.

In the afternoon, I received a response from one large radio network regarding my inquiry about the cost of streaming audio.  While I can’t get into the details, TWR has an existing relationship with an online streaming service.  In short, much of what I learned was very encouraging news, but will warrant further investigation.

I now have a key and the alarm code to the TWR-Bonaire office, which allows me extra freedom in my work schedule.  I find that Brad is a very helpful person.  He also wears many hats, including computer repair for Donna.

It is nice to have Dick Veldman working in the office again.  His second oldest son dropped by the office today to see his father.  The Veldmans seem to have a very nice family.  I spoke to Dick about the possibility of us going scuba diving together, and it should likely happen after his two oldest children return to Holland next week.  I enjoy practicing my Dutch with Dick.

I was also able to help Donna translate some Dutch on an Internet form that she was working on, and then showed her how to use translate.google.com.  I must make more Dutch friends around the island so that I can practice my Dutch even more.  It has gotten a little more rusty than I would like.

Immediately after work, I drove to the downtown area right across from where the former fish market used to be.  It now is a vegetable market that is used by the banana boats from Venezuela.  I took a couple of pictures, but I won’t put them up until tomorrow.

I then walked across the street to the City Café where I met Albert Bianculli who is the head of the Sea Monitor Foundation Bonaire.  I was there to be interviewed for the position of Volunteer Data Collector for some of the floating sea monitoring sites along the coastline.

Albert Bianculli of the Sea Monitor Foundation Bonaire

Albert is a retired advertising executive from the States, and seems to be an avid environmentalist.  He founded the Sea Monitor Foundation, which provides scientific readings of the health of our ocean over a ten-year period.  They have already been monitoring for six years, with four more to go.  They are completely independent of any government organizations, and are funded by volunteer workers and donations from local scuba divers.  One nice thing is that I will get free air fills when I’m doing a dive for the Sea Monitor Foundation.

Below is some information about the Sea Monitor Foundation:

“The goal of operating the sensors is to measure biological productivity and nutrient load that may be caused by runoff or seepages from the coastal septic tanks.  The Sea Monitor’s sensor approach seeks to use a chlorophyll sensor which uses low-cost materials.  Phase I has deployed 14 sensors along the leeward coast of Bonaire.  Each sensor array is on an independent mooring line.  There are three optical sensors–one white, one blue, and one green–at a depth of 5 metres, 12 metres, and 20 metres, for a total of nine per array.  Each sensor uses its advanced optics and temperature readings to collect data every 8 minutes.  The raw data is later transmitted to a U.S. lab where it is analysed and posted as public information.”

Albert explained that the data extraction from the sensors is magnetically activated.  The diver approaches the sensor that’s suspended on a line from an anchor on the bottom, and uses a rag to wipe the algae off of the sensor.  Then the probe is inserted over top of the sensor, and the magnetic trigger is activated to begin the data transfer, using optics.  The transfer takes about 11 seconds, which gives the diver time to wipe off the other sensor right beside it.  After doing all three sensors, the diver move up to the next level and take three more readings, and then up to the 5-metre level for the final set of readings.  They provide a rag for wiping off the algae.  The last step is to go to the surface and clean off the floater bottles.  The entire process takes about 15 minutes. Readings are taken once a week.  The diver is free to use the rest of the air to do a regular dive at his leisure.  I intend to take full advantage of these weekly dives to explore the reef.

The sensor I will be monitoring is located at the FRONT PORCH dive site, otherwise known as Ebby Beach.  My generation may still know it as HOTEL BONAIRE, although that is no longer there.  In fact, I noticed the Sea Monitor line extending up from the wreck of the tugboat when I dove that exact site on Monday.  The fellow that normally takes care of those sensors is away on vacation in the U.S.

On Saturday, I am to meet Albert at the shore at 10:00 am, and he will get me trained as to how to take the readings.  He is bringing the air tank with him.  Afterwards, we will return the tank to the Hamlet Dive Shop, which is just beyond Captain Don’s Habitat on the water plant side.  This is actually a satellite shop for the Yellow Submarine Dive Shop.  Yellow Submarine actually has four different dive shops around the island.  I am amazed at what must be about 30 different dive shops that dot the coastline.

Albert said he was very happy to have me on board, and then excused himself to go back to his friends in the restaurant.  The City Café is actually a bar and grill where many local Dutch people gather for a few friendly drinks.

I ordered the special of the day, and just relaxed and watched people chat.  When I was finished, it happened that Albert was finished with his friends as well, so I called him over to my table.  I was able to keep him talking for close to an hour.  He is one of the most interesting fellows I have yet met on the island.

Albert has been living on Bonaire off and on since 1970.  He explained the various ventures which he is involved in, including sea turtle conservation, and the removal of fish lines from the reef.  He told me that three turtles had drowned after they had been caught in discarded fishing line tangled in the reef.  There are actually little containers mounted at many of the dive sites where divers can deposit fishing line they have retrieved from the reef.  He encourages divers to carry a set of surgical scissors with them so they can trim off any fishing line they find and remove it.  I intend to buy one of these sets of scissors at my first opportunity.

Albert is also a contributor to the island newspaper called the Bonaire Reporter.  He wrote an article a few years ago called “The Diver’s Benefit.”  Without going into detail, his theory is that one hour of diving extends your life by one earth-day on land.  The idea is that just as a person sleeping gets a rest benefit by being horizontal, allowing his internal organs to rest and repair themselves, a diver exists in a weightless environment, getting much of the same benefit.  There is also the added benefit of a completely stress-free environment most divers experience when exploring a reef.  I must say, Albert does seem to be in good shape.  He has logged over 9,000 dives, which is the most I have ever heard of.

On the way home, I dropped by the Dutch supermarket just before they closed at eight o’clock.  Then it was off to feed my four hungry dogs, and sit down to work on my blog.

Tomorrow after work is my last deep-dive test down at the south end of the island.

I want to thank the many people who have emailed me or messaged me on Skype that they have been reading my blog.  Feel free to click the “Comment” button at the bottom of each blog, and leave a comment about what you have read.  Denny Hogan left a comment a couple of days ago about the Diving Dawn Till Dusk blog.  Comments are meant to add interesting insights on the contents of the blog.

Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement.

2 thoughts on “Sea Monitor – Aug. 15, 2012

  1. We met Albert Bianculli a few years ago when we visited Bonaire. We would like to contact him, but do not have a current email address.

    Any contact information would be appreciated.

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