After dozens of interviews, hours of field research, and some serious thought- I think I figured it out. I think I figured out why Bonaire has such a successful reef conservation program. It’s a combination of multiple factors, all of which feed off of each other to create a healthy and dynamic partnership between the human population and the environment. But what is the most important, most influential factor? The international conservation organization of Bonaire recognizes the importance of connectivity.
At first glance, mangrove forests seem like something out of a scary movie. The trees climb out of the water, their roots arching high above the surface like spindly fingers. The dense canopy filters the light and makes eerie shadows over the perfectly still scene. You half expect an algae-covered sea creature to rise out of the muck at any minute.
I should’ve expected this. Months of research means nothing until you actually get into your project. I’ve learned more in a few hours on the island than I learned from all my background research combined. The most important thing I’ve learned so far? Things are worse than I thought.
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.