By Austin Lin
Alongside our marine ecology and conservation program at CIEE research station Bonaire (RSB), outreach is another essential part of our curriculum. One of the local organizations that we collaborate with in educating and spreading awareness of our local marine environment is the STINAPA Junior Ranger program. The youth initiative program educates and trains local youngsters into “Marine Scouts” that seek to understand and protect the local marine ecosystem on Bonaire. As a fellow member of the local community, CIEE RSB provide lessons and activities that enhances the Junior Rangers’ exposure to the tropical marine environment.
One of the recent activities was focused on identifying invertebrates in the intertidal region. The field excursion took place at Punt Vierkant, a rocky coastline along the leeward side of the island. During the search for invertebrates, the Junior Rangers were asked to utilized their understanding of the 6 common marine phylums to categorize unfamiliar invertebrates. Despite the overwhelming abundance of gastropods and decapods in the region, a couple of noticeable encounters were the juvenile slipper lobster and the spotted sea hare. This activity taught the Junior Ranger about the abundant marine biodiversity hidden within a seemingly barren habitat, and reinforces the importance of protecting undeveloped coastal marine environments.