Back to Normal?

It is suddenly cold! Cold enough to shiver at the end of a dive. My dive computer’s logged a whole four degree temperature change since we started diving in Bonaire last August to now; the middle of January. The water temperature from its peak was 30 degrees Celsius to yesterday’s 26 degrees. Proper burrrr. How are we ever going to go home? This is just ridiculous.

It is good for the sea creatures though. It was too warm for too long this year. Much of the plate coral and the tops of the pillar coral turned bright white from coral bleaching. This was brought on by a too-high sea temperatures. A lot has bleached, but particularly the coral deeper than twenty metres.

Now that currents are bringing colder waters back to the coast of Bonaire again, people are waiting to see if the colour returns. The colour is the symbiotic algae which lives within the coral cells. The zooxanthellae. Without it, the coral won’t survive.

Where do the coral get it back from? Are the algae just floating around in the water column like a dog who’s been kicked out of the house and is hanging outside by the kitchen door? Let me back in! Or do the coral have to wait for the zooxanthellae to re-enter their cells and multiply enough so they re-fill its entire structure? Hmm. I wonder. It’s a head-scratcher.

Exactly a year ago was also the last time we felt cold in the Caribbean. We were waiting for our weather window to go to Barbados about a hundred miles west, in Martinique. Jack had tucked Quest into Le Marin’s huge bay on a marina buoy. As usual, we hadn’t made an appointment and the marina didn’t have much free space, but the stern-looking marina manager jiggled us around. Be nice to him and his whole demeanour changed.

Back then we were doing the same thing as now- closing and opening hatch windows all day with the comings and goings of fierce squalls. Finding blankets at night time. Blankets! Turning the fans off too cause it’s too cold, thank you very much. Though the height of luxury on Quest is having both a blanket and a fan.

Then, we set off for the rocky journey to Barbados. There we stayed for exactly six months – and everything changed. The world went quiet.

Though I’ve just read that the Caribbean Cruise Line has kept Bonaire on its travel list for this and next year’s cruise ship destinations. Perhaps they know something we don’t. Maybe the vaccine will make everything go back to normal. Corals will turn brown again, and find their algae. Cruise ships will come back again. Using dirty fuel and scaring sea creatures away.

For nature, it seems some normals are better than other normals.

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