Efforts United to Make a Difference
IslandLife XpBonaire Feature Story
Bonaire is building a name internationally for its efforts in the fields of sustainability and conservation. Many businesses, small and large, are trying to do their part in protecting nature on the island and following broader concepts to ensure the island’s future.
Some of the businesses are well known for their efforts due to many publications and press releases, but not all of them are public. One of those quiet, but very active, businesses is Harbour Village Beach Club and its dive operation - Great Adventure Bonaire.
- has been a member of the Coral Restoration Foundation since 2015
- offers specialty courses about coral to educate and bring people closer to nature
- houses an underwater Elkhorn and Staghorn coral nursery
- is home to an electrified coral reef
- is a chapter of the international organization, Teens4Oceans, that offers field research experience to young adults and, as a result, impacts youth education and scientific research on the island
- has installed a reef cam to collect the coral growth and development data necessary for scientific research
- collaborates with a marine institute located in Hawaii to share the collected data
- received the Green Star award from PADI in 2015, in recognition of their dedication to environmentally responsible business practices and commitment to the conservation of underwater habitats
- sponsored a sea turtle nest in 2016 and 2017 for Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire
- has a dive shop that has been 100% Project Aware since 2015, meaning that for every dive certification, they donate $10 to the Project Aware Foundation
Christine Ball, better known as Chris, has been the Dive Operations Manager at Harbour Village since 2014. She has not only dedicated herself to the dive operation and its projects during regular work hours, but is part of many foundation efforts concerning the protection of our reefs. Her volunteer work includes working with the Junior Rangers, part of STINAPA’s youth outreach and education programming.
Chris, who was a programmer by trade, worked for a software company in the UK. When she accepted a promotion into a management position, the pressure began to rise and she started to look for some alternatives in her life. When she was young, Chris always felt inspired by Jacques Cousteau. After she and her partner visited a beautiful aquarium filled with big, beautiful fish, they decided to take a dive course on their next vacation in 2002. Chris fell in love with diving and upon her return to the UK, she signed up for diving courses, knowing that this would be the beginning of a new chapter in her life.
She became a dive instructor and worked for 7 years in various dive operations, coming for dive vacations on Bonaire twice a year. In 2007, they bought a house on Bonaire and finally, in 2010, Chris took the step and began to look for job opportunities on the island.
As a dedicated Master Instructor, she was welcomed with open arms at Harbour Village who offered her an instructor position, a position which she loves and has held since the beginning of 2011.
Chris had the honor of diving with King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima on their tour of the Island in October, 2011, bringing more awareness of the marine protection efforts on Bonaire to the world.
Involved in all the projects, Chris loves to teach, especially starting with the youngest group, the Bubblemakers. Children, who are at least 8 years old, have the opportunity to blow bubbles using scuba gear to breathe underwater and swim around in shallow water. For Chris it is fun to watch these first underwater experiences and see the children’s excitement. Besides the youngest “divers”, Chris enjoys teaching professional certification levels where she can build special relationships and follow the development and experiences of her students.
Here are some of the Harbour Village projects in more detail:
Harbour Village is home to an underwater Coral Restoration Foundation nursery of Elkhorn and Staghorn corals located right off the resort's private beach and always cared for by the resort’s dive masters. You can learn how to hang the coral on the trees; how to clean and maintain corals and how to transplant corals from the nursery onto the rock piles right off the Harbour Village beach. Guests transplanting corals can return every year to see how much their transplanted corals have grown.
An Electrified Reef involves transplanting a variety of coral species onto metal structures connected to low voltage DC current which stimulates new growth significantly faster than traditional methods of coral restoration. This technology has been used to protect islands and coastal areas from erosion and rising sea levels. Harbour Village is an ideal setting for this type of research, with 16 rock piles offshore to attract new coral growth and a variety of marine life. The Electrified Reef project includes underwater webcams and will eventually expand to include Electrified Reef tunnels connecting the rock piles to create a reef and a new home for Bonaire’s marine life.
Harbour Village Beach Club has partnered with Teens4Oceans and Gulliver Schools of Miami, FL to bring two advanced View into the Blue underwater research cameras to Bonaire’s waters. This project offers local and non-local students field research experience by allowing them to access two live underwater cameras which also measure pH, temperature, and salinity. This invaluable data will also provide greater opportunities for students to partner with professional marine science mentors. Harbour Village is particularly proud of this program because of its direct impact on youth education and scientific research on Bonaire. Harbour Village helped found a local Teens4Oceans chapter through STINAPA’s Junior Rangers, a local youth group sponsored by the Bonaire Marine Park, STINAPA.
Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire (CRFB)
Harbour Village’s Dive operation has been member of the CRFB since 2016. Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire (CRFB) is a Non-Profit Organization founded in 2012. The mission of the Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire (CRFB) is to develop affordable, effective strategies for protecting and restoring the shallow water population of Staghorn and Elkhorn corals along the coastlines of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire. CRF Bonaire, supported by the local government and the Bonaire Marine Park is developing a large scale reef restoration program, promoting awareness and engaging tourists and local volunteers.
In the near future, Harbour Village will put even more effort into teaching children by reaching out to more schools and children. Early education, field experience and the connection with nature are important to make the much needed changes in our relationship with nature and to build a positive future for the generations to come.
The coral nursery trees located at Harbour Village need care and cleaning frequently and volunteers are most welcome. You can be part of these efforts by contacting the dive operation, Great Adventure Bonaire, and ask for their next tree cleaning dates.
Is it important to you that your child experience Bonaire’s underwater world first hand and understands the struggles of protecting coral for generations to come? Consider the STINAPA Junior Ranger Program.
Would you like to make a donation to support all these efforts? You can donate to:
The Harbour Village Reef Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Bonaire’s reefs through carefully selected projects and partnerships. HVRF helps raise funds from organizations and individuals interested in protecting marine ecosystems, raising global ocean awareness and supporting the preservation of Bonaire’s waters through research and education.
Coral Reef Foundation Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club
Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot No. 71
The Harbour Village Reef Foundation :
Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire:
STINAPA Junior Rangers