Reef Ecosystem Conservation in Bonaire: Abstract

In a time of expansive environmental chance, our oceans are in serious trouble. Specifically, coral reef ecosystems are seeing widespread species loss and habitat degradation resulting from overfishing, coastal development, and climate change.  And since one out of every four marine species can be found on a coral reef, it is vital that we take immediate action to save these ecosystems.

This summer, I will venture to the island of Bonaire, home to one of the healthiest reef ecosystems in the Caribbean. The local government has long been on the forefront of marine conservation, and as a result has suffered only minimal reef loss.  My goal is to evaluate the conservation policies and determine what has made them so successful.  While based at the CIEE Research Station, I will conduct interviews of the researchers, residents, and tourists to assess their knowledge and opinions regarding these policies. My goal is to eventually assess how these policies could be implemented elsewhere in the Caribbean in an ongoing effort to save these critical ecosystems.