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Wednesday, 20 February 2013 10:35

 

 WILLEMSTAD — Seventy American students from the High Tech High School North County (HTHNC) in California sent postcards to the parliament with the text ‘Please consider the damage the development of Oostpunt will cause on Curaçao. If we lose the reef it will be lost forever’.Marine biologist Aaron Hartmann from Scripps Institution of Oceanography from the University of California is the lecturer of the students who sent the postcards. Hartmann is conducting promotion research that specifically focuses on the coral reef of Oostpunt and explained this research to his students. Hartmann shares his knowledge with the students also through scientific experiments. He describes the reef of Oostpunt as ‘the crown jewel’ because it has more living corals than any other reef of the island. He stated that the average presence of living corals on this reef is three times higher than in the rest of the Caribbean area. His research also shows that some coral species on the reef of Oostpunt produce more ‘babies’ compared to other reeves. According to him, this not only has a strengthening effect for this reef but also for the somewhat ‘weaker’ reeves at other locations that are provisioned due to the ideal location of the Oostpunt reef. The postcards for the parliament of Curaçao are part of an ‘awareness’ assignment. The students were given the assignment to inform their district, the San Marcos district in California, about the threatening danger for the reef of Oostpunt. “With that they had to make sure the person from their district actually signed the postcard. Yesterday we presented seventy cards that were signed by residents from San Marcos.”

 

Hartmann, who is now on the island for the seventh time, came to Curaçao for a study trip with four (HTHNC)-lecturers. “The intention is that the four lecturers also collect knowledge on Curaçao and subsequently share this with their students”, said Hartmann. The lecturers are: Chris Morissette lecturer environment engineering; Anna Petrick lecturer media techniques, and biology lecturers Parag Chowdhury and Matt Leader. Both Leader and Morisette received a scholarship, among others from the American ‘National Science Association’, thus making the study trip to Curaçao possible.

The school project with Oostpunt as subject continues because the students are to edit the material filmed by the lecturers during the study trip on Curaçao into a film. Leader further explained that the group of lecturers, including Hartmann, will organize a fundraising in the coming year to finance a study trip with approx. twenty students next year.

The text on the backside of the postcards reads: “Oostpunt has one of the most beautiful and healthiest reeves in the Caribbean area. The reef is not only a huge tourist attraction and a natural wonder, but offers support to numerous important marine animals such as fish and crustaceans. The development and construction work on land could damage the reef and cause deterioration. With all respect, we therefore ask to abandon the idea of large-scale development in this area to protect the reef of Oostpunt for both the current and future generations”.