As an intern at CIEE one of the greatest perks of my job is the opportunity to participate in research projects. One of the projects I have been involved in is looking at the change of benthic composition over time in Bonaire. Benthic means bottom dwelling; so we have been observing changes in the health and diversity of organisms such as coral, sponges, algae, and many more! We use a video camera underwater to collect data on these organisms. It’s a long term research project that has been ongoing since 2009 so there is always much work to be done!
Data is collected at dive sites all along Bonaire including the South such as White Slave, the North such as Weber’s Joy, and other popular dive sites including Cliff and Jerry’s Reef. All of the chosen sites have different levels of anthropogenic influence so it will be interesting to see how this impacts Bonaire’s benthic composition!
A typical day of fieldwork begins with preparing and loading all of the equipment, tools, and dive gear. Then we complete two dives to record the video and take water samples which will later be analyzed by Molly Gleason, the coordinator of the long term research program.
Then comes the more challenging part of research: data analysis. Countless hours are spent in the CIEE research station lab to examine the videos and record the different species we find on Bonaire’s reefs. I’ve learned a lot about the local reefs by participating in this research project. It can be hard work but we’re always having fun in the process!