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donated by the foundation Dieren Lot

The Bat Conservation Program for the ABC islands (PPRABC), a member of the Caribbean Speleological Society, received today a pick up truck donated by the foundation Dieren Lot. The truck will be used for work related to the conservation of bats and their habitats. This donation came in perfect timing for the Caves and Karst Nature Reserve project that the society is currently conducting. A huge thanks to Dieren Lot and all the people that made this possible!!

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Wet Caves of Bonaire: Faroa Cave

Faroa Cave is a special cave for sure. There are several reasons that reinforce this sense of uniqueness.
First, its remote location and really tricky access, with rough seas, no proper sea access points and severe restricted passages, had kept this cave hidden and unknown to the world.
Secondly, it treasures a few wonders in its entrails.

Faroa Cave has the honor to be the most important turtle cemetery of the island so far. There might be other undiscovered caves, but this one contains an invaluable amount of remains, including several gigantic and well preserved turtle skulls that rise many questions about their age.
The only current access to the cave is a tight no-mount restriction, way too narrow for a turtle that size to swim in. How did they get inside then? The most logical explanation is that there used to be another entrance that eventually collapsed. Collapses most likely happen when the caves are dry, in this case, several thousands years ago. Could that be that these skeletons are ancient? We don’t know.

The cave has also revealed unexpected surprises, like a species of brotula that have not been sighted in Bonaire before, and apparently seldom reported around the Antilles too.

Survey has not been completed yet. A temporary line has been set by CARIBSS members in order to ease the access and survey of the cave’s features.

*PLEASE note that these caves are not “open” to the general public. Further survey and research should be done, and visitors can severely compromise this process and their own safety.

Wet Caves of Bonaire: Pos di Wajaka

If you ever heard somebody saying that Bonaire is like a “Gruyere cheese”, you better believe it!

Most of the island is limestone, a soft sedimentary rock that is easily weathered by water courses. Rainfall, underground water and the sea itself can dig through it, creating a variety of geological formations and karst landscapes.

Pos di Wajaka is the biggest known inland wet cave there is in Bonaire (but not the longest). It was formed by a long dissolution process that shaped the limestone into a system of caves. These underground vaults eventually collapsed, widening the cave until it reached the surface, thus creating an entrance.

This is also the deepest known wet cave of Bonaire, with -38 meters at its deepest point.

Although its existence was known by geologists and topographists in the beginning of the 20th century, the cave remained unexplored and undocumented until  the 80s, when a the first team of cave divers  performed the first dives.

Other exploration teams followed ever since, making the first rough maps and  laying the exploration line that we can still see today. The cave is explored in its majority, with the exception of a couple of deep and very dangerous galleries.

Three layers of water are clearly noticeable: the first layer is fresh water, rich in tannic acid (0-6 meters approx.), followed by a thick layer of brackish water and hydrogen sulfide acid (6-12 meters approx.). The last layer (12-38 meters approx.) is essentially salt water. These layers can change after a rainy season.

The cave displays very spectacular but fragile decoration (except for the deeper sections) and serves as one of the few natural water wells for the animals that live in the area. Visitors might disrupt their behavior and deny the access to this precious water source.

*PLEASE note that these caves are not “open” to the general public. Further survey and research should be done, and visitors can severely compromise this process and their own safety.

 

Wet Caves of Bonaire: Morla’s Cave

Bonaire, being an island composed mainly of limestone rocks, shows a number of geological formations, caverns, karst ridges and caves among others. There is a number of reports and surveys of  the inland caves that can be found across the island, but there is little information about the undersea geological formations. This is mainly due the extremely complicated, and often dangerous, conditions of the water. Rough seas, high waves, surf and lack of sea access points or infrastructure makes regular surveys almost infeasible.
Specific equipment and formed professionals (such as cave and technical divers) are required as well, adding more obstacles towards the achievement of a consistent exploration endeavour.
Because this, the sea caves and caverns remain mostly unexplored, and definitely, undocumented.

Morla’s Cave is one of the most spectacular examples of what our waters hold. First documented by CARIBSS members, this huge cavern contains wonders that are unique to the island. Originally carved into the limestone walls when the sea level was lower, thousands of years ago, this cavern remained untouched for hundreds of years, telling us a story that can reveal how our island looked like long time ago.

The huge dome inside shows signs of former collapses, big boulders have fallen from the ceiling, widening the already huge space. We can tell that the cave was at least partially dry once, according to the flowstone formations carved onto some of the biggest boulders, most likely originated by the dripping water coming from the surf.

But there are more wonders inside. The cave is a huge turtle cementery. Ancient and modern turtles might have entered in the cave, lost direction and eventually drowned inside of it. The proof is the great amount of bones, including big skulls, that can be found littering the bottom. One particular big, and almost complete skeleton catches our eye, giving the name to the cave (Morla, the ancient turtle from “The Neverending story” book, by Michael Ende).

The natural relevance of these remains is yet to be clarified. Some of the bones seem modern, some other show clear signs of fossilization, and some other might be still buried in the sand. These remains are under research and may not be disturbed or loot in any way.

Other unexpected inhabitants can be seen, like lobsters, shrimps and brotulas.

CARIBSS divers have also laid a survey line in order to help with further research.

Pictures: Lars Bosman (misspelled in the pics) & Alejandro Gutierrez

Model: Yago Rodriguez

*PLEASE note that these caves are not “open” to the general public. Further survey and research should be done, and visitors can severely compromise this process.

Wet caves of Bonaire: Pos di Urugyan di Zuid

Pos di Urugyan di Zuid, also known as Pos di Kalbas or “The Mailbox” is one of the most extense cave systems in the island.

This is one of the best known wet caves in Bonaire. It has been dived extensively through the years, in many occasions with no proper training or equipment, causing irreparable damage to the cave formations.

Although it has been almost fully explored and mapped in the past by Pamela Werdath and Malin Kaijser (both members of CARIBSS), there are no good recent shots of this cave.

One of the goals of the Wet Cave Exploration Project regarding this cave is to document the most remarkable features contained in it and the damage caused to them in the past.
We hope, by our activity, to create awareness about the delicate situation of our underground cave systems and to preserve them for the generations to come.

*PLEASE note that these caves are not “open” to the general public. Further survey and research should be done, and visitors can severely compromise this process.

 

Photographer: Lars Bosman

Model: Yago Rodriguez

Bonaire Cave & Karst Recreational Park

DESCRIPTION
In order to guarantee the enjoyment and safety of visitors as well as the integrity of the caves, this project aims to create a cave park with proper trails to access cave entrances and signage including cave maps showing the different levels of difficulty, safety indications and highlighting cave values. It will be imperative that the infrastructure of the park does not affect the character of the caves and the natural surrounding areas.
COORDINATOR
Ruud Stelten                                                                                 ruud.stelten@caribss.org
TIMEFRAME
 From: August 2017          To:  December 2018
FUNDING STATUS
 Funds Approved.
FUNDERS
 Dutch Government
PARTNERS

 Dutch Government

Openbaar Lichaam Bonaire

WILDCONSCIENCE BV

GOALS

 >To create proper trails and signage to cave entrances,

>To create an adequate parking area,

>To explore and document the caves included in the park according to international safety standards,

>To identify and document natural resources contained in them,

>To have well guided and controlled visits to the caves,

>To identify and document their cultural and historical values.

 

S.I.C.O.M. Recognition For 2 Bat Maternity Roosts on Bonaire

DESCRIPTION

A.I.C.O.M. and  S.I.C.O.M. (Spanish acronyms for Area and Site of Importance for Bat Conservation) are designations that indicate international recognition granted by a group of world class bat scientists. The designation can be used as a tool to obtain local legal protection for a priority roost.

On the island of Bonaire we found two caves without any legal protection that serve as the only maternity chambers for at least 2 species of insect-eating bats and therefore meet the criteria for obtaining international recognition as a SICOM.

In order to support our SICOM applications with scientific data, we  will assess the physical characteristics of these roosts by mapping the caves. Additionally, in order to estimate their population size, determine the life cycle of the species and the yearly patterns of use of the roosts, we will conduct periodical (every 2 months for 2 consecutive years) estimations of relative abundance of the species by setting harp traps and/or mist nets at the exit of each cave.

COORDINATOR
Fernando Simal                                                    fernando.simal@caribss.org
TIMEFRAME
From: August 2017 To: December 2017
FUNDING STATUS
Funds Approved
FUNDERS
 Dutch Government
PARTNERS

 Dutch Government

Openbaar Lichaam Bonaire

WILDCONSCIENCE B.V.

GOALS
> To obtain international recognitions by RELCOM as a site of IMPORTANCE for bat conservation for Kueba di Bakuna.

 

Bonaire Cave Tour Guide Certification Course

DESCRIPTION

Caves in Bonaire are relatively unexplored and non-documented, with the exception of a few ones. These caves are frequently visited by tourists and locals and receive a significant impact due improper caving procedures or lack of coordination.

The Bonaire Dry Cave Guide Certification Course aims to solve this problem, by providing quality training for cave guides, and by developing a management framework that ensure the conservation of the caves  by correct, professional, safe and coordinated usage.

COORDINATOR
Alejandro Gutiérrez                                                    exploration@caribss.org
TIMEFRAME
Ongoing
FUNDING STATUS
Funds Approved
FUNDERS
 Dutch Government
PARTNERS

 Dutch Government

Openbaar Lichaam Bonaire

WILDCONSCIENCE B.V.

GOALS

> To train cave guides on adequate emergency response protocols.

> To enhance the visitors experience.

> To train cave guides in proper caving techniques, equipment and safety procedures.

> To develop environmental awareness and sustainable caving activities.

> To create a certified cave guides database that can be consulted by the users.

 

Bonaire Dry Cave System Exploration

DESCRIPTION

Caves in Bonaire are relatively unexplored and non-documented. To find and document these caves is essential for their proper management and protection.

The Bonaire Dry Cave System Exploration Project is a long term enterprise conducted by a local team of speleologists, along with the collaboration of individuals, organizations and companies that believe that the economy and health of the island and its inhabitants depends on the conservation, promotion and sustainable use  of the local nature.

COORDINATOR
Alejandro Gutiérrez                                                     exploration@caribss.org
TIMEFRAME
Ongoing
FUNDING STATUS
 Looking for funds
FUNDERS
PARTNERS
GOALS

 >To locate new caves in Bonaire and Klein Bonaire,

>To explore and document these caves accordingly to international safety standards,

>To identify and document natural resources contained in them,

>To identify and document their cultural and historical values.

 

About us

CARIBSS was  founded in 2016 on the island of Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands, by a diverse group of dedicated professionals who share a strong passion for different aspects of caves, including exploration, cultural heritage, ecology, geology and recreation, among others.

OUR VISION

To ensure that the caves in the Island of Bonaire and the Caribbean  and the values they contained  are recognized, respected and protected by residents and visitors.

OUR MISSION

CARIBSS aims to explore, document and preserve the  cave systems of the Is land of Bonaire and the Caribbean while ensuring their optimal management,  and to serve as a forum where all the different organizations or individuals can share information, projects and initiatives.

The goals of the society are:

  • To protect, conserve and restore the natural, cultural, historic. esthetic, recreational and scientific values contained in the cave systems of the Island of Bonaire and Caribbean Region for future generations.
  • To ensure that the conservation of these values is given priority in public decision making processes.
  • To ensure that residents and visitors to the Caribbean region receive quality education and information about the importance and protection of the values contained in them.
  • To promote and ensure that the resources contained in these cave systems are used in a sustainable manner.
  • To ensure that human safety is given priority during all cave-related activities.