Imagine waking up every morning in paradise: crystal clear, turquoise water, swaying palms, tropical fish galore, and plenty of opportunities to dive and make a difference. As a Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire intern this too could be your life. This summer I had an amazing opportunity to take a break from working on Masters degrees in International Affairs and Natural Resources and Sustainable Development to spend time working on the ground (and in the water) to gain valuable, firsthand experience in the realities of working for an environmental NGO. As an intern, you create monofilament loops, attempt to cut rebar, saw and drill bamboo, inventory materials, and assist with CRF Bonaire dive classes – and that’s just on land. In the water you will clean nursery trees, hang clippings, remove predators, assist with classes, transplant corals, build transplant structures, monitor for disease, and complete a myriad of other exciting tasks.
Look up from your work and see a squid eyeing you, a sea turtle swimming by, or a seahorse swaying…
With CRF Bonaire you also have the opportunity to see almost instantaneous results. When you transplant corals, the fish immediately make themselves at home. Not to mention that you never know when you’re going to look up from your work and see a squid eyeing you, a sea turtle swimming by, or a seahorse swaying on one of the nursery branches. While the work itself is rewarding and fun, easily the best part of the entire experience is the amazing, passionate people you will meet and have the opportunity to get to know. The CRF Bonaire community of staff and volunteers is made up of truly inspirational people.
We come from all over the world, we get along, we work together, and we get things done.
One moment that really sticks out to me from my internship experience this summer was not a moment in the water but one on land, when a leader of a family diving program introduced those of us assisting with Kids Sea Camp to the families by remarking that even though we come from all over the world, we get along, we work together, and we get things done. Around the globe, 2016 has been a challenging year politically and a lot of uncertainty clouds the future of environmental action. It can be hard to act when the obstacles seem insurmountable, but a reminder that it is still possible for individuals to come together from all over the world and achieve something great can make all the difference. It is in times like these that we must remember the power of individual action and take a stand for the issues we hold dear.
Remember that your efforts will continue to create a brighter future…
Working with CRF Bonaire this summer taught me just how much of an impact one person can have. To any of you who have scrubbed a nursery tree free of algae and fire coral (ouch!), hung clippings, removed predators, bought a t-shirt, switched to reef safe sunscreen, or transplanted coral, thank you! All of you volunteers who came before me, those I had the pleasure of working with, and those who will volunteer in the future have membership in a special family that we should all be proud to be a part of. Bida ta dushi, Coral Lovers! Spread the coral love, and remember that your efforts will continue to create a brighter future for us all.