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Bonaire is a crescent shaped island with a land area of 111 square miles situated in the southern Caribbean near the coast of Venezuela. Bonaire has a very complex geology and the genesis of this geology is found in the island's coral reefs. Bonaire is surrounded by continuous, fringing coral reefs beginning at the shore and descending along several terraces. Although it is important to treat a coral reef as a living organism and portions of a reef are indeed living, a coral reef is actually a complex of features, only part of which is a living coral or algal framework, although the other associated features result from this live segment. The accumulations of carbonate sand and mud provide a habitat for sea grasses and mangroves and for almost inconspicuous blue-green algal mats. These plants and algae trap and stabilize sediment, and their accumulations are also accreted to the whole reef complex. Storms and surf heap up fragmental material into beaches and shoals, and the shoals may develop into low sandy or rubbly islets or cays on top of the reef. The reef becomes true rock by an almost imperceptible dissolution, redeposition, recrystallization, and chemical transformation of reef material. The shape of coral reefs, while at least in part due to the tendency of reef builders to grow upward and outward toward the prevailing winds and currents, is also the result of changes of sea level during the last 2,000,000 years or more. Coral reefs that developed before the last glaciation were left above sea level, where they were eroded and subjected to solution weathering. As sea level rose again during the past 10,000 years, new reef growth mantled this older, drowned landscape but has still not masked it completely. (Some information from UNESCO.org and Encyclopædia Britannica)
Bonaire has always taken the conservation of its coral reefs very seriously. Since 1979, the waters around Bonaire have been designated a marine park and protected by law in order to ensure the continued sustainability of the coral reef. Where most Caribbean islands have suffered coral reef loss exceeding 60%, these conservation measures have helped keep Bonaire’s reefs the healthiest in the Caribbean. Still, increased tourism and coastal zone development continue to threaten the coral reefs. The importance of maintaining healthy reefs both for their geological value and to ensure a sustainable economy for the island of Bonaire cannot be overstressed.
One specific measure taken has been to place mooring lines at all marked dive sites so dive boats will have a way to moor without anchoring and damaging the coral. The coordinates of this Earthcache are at the mooring point of Karpata, one of the islands most beautiful dive spots.
To log this earthcache, complete the first two earth tasks below and e-mail me your findings. You’ll more fully experience the cache if you also complete the optional third and fourth tasks. Finally, I'd also appreciate you uploading a photo of your adventure if you have a camera. Note: I will not respond to your e-mail unless your answers are in error so feel free to log the cache as soon as you send the e-mail:
1. Measure the depth of the ocean at the base of the Karpata mooring line. This depth is representative of the depth of the beginning of the drop off to the first terrace. In order to gain an appreciation for the magnitude of the terrace, measure* the depth at the base of the drop off. Compare these two depths to obtain the change in depth. *(Note: DO NOT DIVE BEYOND YOUR LIMITS. If your qualification/skill level probihits descent to the base, just estimate the depth.)
2. In order to understand that most of a coral reef is inanimate or no longer living, study the living coral on the reef and compare to the rocks, sand and other non-living portions of the reef. Report the percentage of the reef covered with living coral to the total area of the reef.
3. Estimate the health of the reef at Karpata. Specifically, estimate the percentage of damaged coral to the overall coral population on the reef.
4. List at least three types of coral within a 10 feet radius of the anchor point. These coral are the basis for the living reef and all the life the reef sustains
(No hints available.)