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ReeFiesta 2023: A Celebration of Community and Coral Restoration

by | Jun 6, 2023 | Events, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling

ReeFiesta 2023 was a huge success!

ReeFiesta 2023 was a huge success!

On Thursday, June 1st, over 150 community members from around Bonaire gathered to show their support for coral restoration and celebrate World Reef Awareness Day. ReeFiesta 2023 provided a meaningful and tangible opportunity for ocean enthusiasts, both new and old, to actively contribute to coral restoration efforts here on Bonaire.

The event kicked off with synchronized shore dives across 10 nursery sites and a guided snorkel tour, led by RRFB team members and experienced staff from 13 local dive operators. Participating divers worked diligently on 63 coral nursery trees, while snorkelers learned about RRFB’s various restoration techniques by visiting the nurseries and outplanting sites.

After an afternoon of underwater activities, the group came together on the beach at Buddy Dive Resort for a celebratory reception that included speeches, a gift raffle, and engaging trivia session centered around coral restoration. Thanks to dozens of prizes generously donated by local dive operators – including scuba courses, dive gear, and merchandise, the raffle was a fundraising success.

RRFB Chief Operating Officer Francesca Virdis opened the floor with an inaugural speech to welcome guests and recognize long-time RRFB volunteer Loretta Marshall. Monique van de Water, Senior Oceans Advisor for WWF Dutch Caribbean, and Ms. Abigail Paula, Interim Country Manager of Orco Bank N.V., took turns addressing the crowd as representing sponsors of ReeFiesta 2023.

The evening marked an important milestone for RRFB as structural changes were announced within the organization, notably the resignation of RRFB Founder and former President, Mr. Martin van der Valk. In recognition of his decade-long commitment and invaluable contributions to the organization, RRFB President David Fishman and Secretary Augusto Montbrun presented Mr. van der Valk with an honorary award.

ReeFiesta 2023 showcased the collective efforts of individuals and organizations committed to preserving Bonaire’s reefs; the event welcomed over 80 newcomers and dozens of veteran Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire supporters. RRFB extends its deepest appreciation to everyone involved, as their support and dedication play a crucial role in ensuring the future health and resilience of Bonaire’s marine ecosystem.

This event was hosted by RRFB in collaboration with AB-Dive, Beyond the Corals, Buddy Dive Resort, DIVI Dive, Flamingo Diving, Harbour Village Resort, Technical Diving Services, Toucan Diving, Tropical Divers, VIP Diving, Wannadive, Xprodivers, and 4Wheel Diving. It was kindly made possible by official sponsors World Wildlife Fund, Ocean Oasis Beach Club, and Orco Bank N.V.

(Source: Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire)

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Tanya Deen has been living in Bonaire since December 2016. She is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Instructor and enjoys underwater and bird photography. Tanya is the Editor-in-Chief of the Bonaire Insider tourism news blog.
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