Coral Reefs


Global Climate Change is threatening the delicate balance of temperatures needed for survival of coral reef life.

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In the struggle for life on this planet, man has clearly won. On land his traces are everywhere but recently he has gone under water too and the results are devastating. Hundreds of square miles of reef have been poisoned, dynamited, polluted, overfished or indirectly damaged by activities on the adjacent land. Global Climate Change is threatening the delicate balance of temperatures needed for survival of coral reef life.


A reef is not vast. Often, but a tiny little rim around an island, a few hundred feet wide then sand; a thin skin of oasis in a vast span of desert.

Like a symbiotic relationship, of which there are many on the reef, there are a few places where an interdependency has developed between man and the reef, where they provide services to each other to the benefit of both. One such place is Bonaire, a small Caribbean island. Spurred by the bad example of its sister island Curacao, Bonaire had the foresight in the seventies to put a halt to the destruction of the reef by declaring the sea around the island a Marine Park.

Due to its success, the island economy now floats virtually entirely on diving tourism. The tourists are required to follow a course on how to behave under water and are not allowed to use diving gloves, because they are not supposed to touch anything anyway. Here, eco-tourism is bringing improved livelihoods to much of the population. In its own way a symbiotic relationship with life both on land and in the water as the island's wildlife, from the boobies on the cliffs of the North Western tip of the island to the flamingos on the salt flats in the South-East, is also protected.

All organisms on the reef are more or less dependent upon each other, but some have developed such an intricate relationship that they could no longer live without their partner. Alliances, partnerships and the enemies they fend off are part of this drama. This photographic exhibit provides a glimpse into the symbiotic relationships of Bonaire and examples of symbiotic relationships in reefs in many other parts of the world, imparting a deep appreciation of the wonder, beauty, and diversity of life of coral reefs from microorganisms to oceanic fish.

Photographs by Jan C. Post

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