CIEE Research Station faculty and staff are involved in a number of research projects, including investigations of long-term changes in the coral and benthic community around Bonaire, the impacts of recreational SCUBA diving on Bonaire’s reefs, and studies of invasive lionfish. Here is just a sampling of our current research projects:
Lionfish in the Mangroves of Lac Bay – Dr. Enrique Arboleda
Lac Bay, on the south-east of Bonaire, is a ~700 hectare lagoon surrounded by a shallow coral reef crest and a single channel opening that harbors almost all of the mangroves and shallow seagrasses on the island. These ecosystems are important nursery areas – many young coral-reef fishes grow among the quiet waters of the mangroves, seagrasses and shallow coral formations. Once the juveniles grow, they recolonize the reef and adjacent areas. The presence of a voracious predator in these ecosystems could have a clear negative impact on reef fish. However, unlike many other places in the Caribbean, lionfish haven’t been able (yet) to completely colonize the mangrove and seagrass environment on Bonaire. CIEE has been following this invasion in Lac Bay since 2010, and now, with the collaboration of Karko Bonaire, we have gathered a more detailed set of data regarding lionfish abundance in this area. We are currently analyzing these rates of invasion and studying the diet of the lionfish that actually make it into the lagoon.
Light Pollution off the Coast of Kralendijk – Dr. Enrique Arboleda
Have you ever try to sleep at night with the light of your bedroom turned on? Remember how annoying it is to sleep on an overnight flight or train with the lights on? Now imagine all the street, house, and boat lights along the seaside of Kralendijk (or any other typical coastal town). Is this light actually reaching the marine environment? Are marine organisms being affected by it? How do they respond to it? Marine organisms need a normal day/night cycle (like all people do!) and a regular moonlight cycle (specific natural light during some nights of the calendar month) to synchronise their reproductive efforts. Moreover, artificial light at night attracts predators and might disorient some organisms underwater. By analysing light intensity underwater and performing experimental assays, we are aiming to tackle some the aforementioned questions.