Hurricane Matthew – Reef Damage Assessment in Bonaire

Marine park manager Wijnand de Wolf

On the evening of the 29th September 2016 Hurricane Matthew passed north of Bonaire by approximately 240km, with maximum sustained wind speeds over 120km/h. After passing Aruba as a category 2 hurricane, the path of Matthew slowed its forward progress and turned north-northeast. Heavy storm surge generated by Matthew continued to strike the coastline and on the 4th-5th of October, a resurgence of waves ranging from 1.4-1.7 m height pounded the northern and western (leeward) shores of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire. After the waves subsided, STINAPA immediately sent survey forms to dive operators requesting information on reef conditions and offered assistance in removing large debris.

Bonaire National Marine Park rangers took photos of damage to piers, docks, ladders, etc. and began removing large debris from the reef. On the 6th to 7th of October 2016, STINAPA staff, interns and volunteers surveyed sites along the leeward shore of Bonaire to assess the initial impact of Hurricane Matthew.

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