Covid Confession

Five years ago, we left Wales with an intention. Well, it was my intention. I can’t honestly say that anyone else in my family shared it with me. The intention was to get involved in marine conservation work. I’d heard about a lemon shark group in the Bahamas for example. Tagging and studying sharks. My family spent a lot of time laughing at me for that one.

‘Not the lemon sharks again!’ they’d chime in, whenever I mentioned this intention.

I’m a bit relieved I didn’t join the lemon shark group in the end. I’m pretty scared of things with teeth. Especially pointy teeth. I did want to expose the kids to something positive though. Since we were going travelling, I wanted them to see firsthand that there are many dedicated people who want to make this world a better place.

What does this have to do with Covid? Well, we were supposed to go home at the end of May – and we didn’t. Covid closed the Azores for all intents and purpose. Welsh waters were closed too. So, we headed to Bonaire, somewhere we’d heard about, but had never been before.

It feels we’re skating a thin line with Covid here. Bonaire has made it clear for example, that if we contract the virus, we have to pay for our own health care. It’s one of the terms of being able to enter the country. That’s because there are very few hospital beds here. And that’s fine. At times, the virus seems far away – but at other times it feels real close. You just can’t tell.

We did find something good though. Last week, Lu, Bonnie and I made new coral thickets at Harbour Village – just off the beach. We tied long pieces of staghorn coral to bamboo frames. You fit them on like a jigsaw puzzle, so they grow nicely together. Then we went back to the nursery trees and took the large, irregular pieces of staghorn to glue to the rocks. Because of their wild shape, they’ll grow better free-growing than tied to the thickets.

It was blowing a bit of current, so we had fun holding on. And the glueing was a whole new experience. When Bonnie gave me the basket of corals I had to quickly inflate my jacket so I didn’t plummet to the sea floor. Then, when I put the coral basket down, I had to quickly deflate my BCD before I shot to the surface. Whoopsie.

We had to chisel the rocks, to strip them of algae before placing the epoxy down for the coral to stick on. Never hammered underwater before. And all three of us had a go. The dark damselfish darted in then to nibble at the resin. Bonnie told us they love to eat it. We placed the corals on top, and voila!

The truth is that we wouldn’t be here, doing this without Covid changing the world. And it took me five years to find it.

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