Wednesday, July 7, 2021

SearchResearch Challenge (7/7/21): All about Bonaire?

The Caribbean is a wonderful place... 

This is sunset from the tiny beach on the south side of Kralendijk (how to pronounce), the capital city of Bonaire.  Yes, the sunsets really do look like that.  

I've visited many times, and still find it fascinating.  It's a desert island that's managed to preserve its reefs in good shape--and the fact that it's a desert island means that the water around the island is supernaturally clear.  Because it's in the tropics, it's also warm and just about perfect.  

But for as many times as I've been there, I still have a few questions--I suppose I'll always have questions, but let's start with these.  Can you SearchResearch the answers?  

1. "Slagbaai" is the name of a large park on Bonaire.  What does the name Slagbaai" mean? 

2. Bonaire is now a desert island, but it used to be covered in a forest that was dominated by a particular kind of tree. What kind of tree was so dominant? Why was it heavily logged?  

3. Can you find an early / historic period image of Bonaire?  (The earliest image wins!) 

4. I saw flamingos on Bonaire.  Growing up, I saw lots of National Geographic specials on TV that told me they lived in Africa!  Are flamingos native to the area, or were they imported?  Have they always been on Bonaire?  

Flamingos on the solar salt ponds on the south part of the island.

Be sure to let us know, in the comments below, what you've found.  AND, of course, let us know how you did it. Anything you can teach us to improve our SearchResearch skills will be happily accepted!  




  1. ["Slagbaai" meaning]

    In the past the bay was called ‘Sla baai’. ‘Sla’ comes from the Papiamentu word ‘salu’, meaning salt.


    [Bonaire covered by trees]

    Kibrahacha Tree Did you see them in bloom, Dr. Russell?

    [How Flamingos arrived to Bonaire] & [Flamingo Bonaire history]

    In related questions, Google shows; Are Flamingos native to Bonaire?

    Went to Wikipedia And there, selected Netherlands language

    In 1526 the Spaniards introduced cattle to Bonaire.

    Also read about Flamingos. Their airport is named Flamingo

    1. With [Ancient Bonaire photos]

      With [Bonaire first flamingo animal

    2. ["Bonaire unknown facts"]

      From : The famous dive site called 1000 Steps has only 67 steps in reality.

      Bonaire’s Washington Slagbaai National Park comprises of two former land plantations, Washington & Slagbaai. These two plantations once supplied salt, charcoal, aloe extract, and goats for export to Curaçao and Europe. Source :

      [Slagbaai plantation Bonaire History] /
      [What kind of trees were burned in Slagbaai plantation]

      The branches of the mesquite tree or indju (Prosopis juliflora) were burned to produce charcoal. The tree would be cut about 30 cm (12 inches) above the ground, and within five years it would grow back to its previous size. Thanks to this rapid growth and to selective cutting, Bonaire never became deforested.

      Site also mentions another trees of importance to Bonaire

    3. With [Bonaire mesquite tree burning]

      Bonaire History

    4. Good Day

      I just read these two articles. They are out of topic. However, I am sure Dr. Russell will like them and maybe could be of interest to someone else


      Languages and Culture:

    5. Searched on Twitter [Bonaire flamingos]

      Locally they are known as “Chogogo” in Papiamentu which is in reference to the nasal sound they produce. By Bonaireapartment.

      Not about Bonaire, but included in this thread about The Bahamas:

      "...The Bahamas is home to the largest breeding colony of the West Indian flamingo in the entire world.

      The colony is found on the island of Great Inagua and is home to more than 60,000 flamingos. The bird is also the national bird of The Bahamas as well as Bonaire..."

      In the fun facts mentioned, he writes about the in The Bahamas. Aquamarine color in flag. Churches, Olympics and Blue Holes.

      Then [define Blue Holes] I wonder if Dr. Russell have dived in one of those

  2. Using full search tools of Google found two the answers on Bonaire Dutch Caribbean For What does the name Slagbaai" mean? –
    “….Slagbaai, whose name means slaughter because in the past the cattle would be slaughtered there,…” and for question 2 What kind of tree was so dominant? Why was it heavily logged? The answer is The “branches of the mesquite tree or indju (Prosopis juliflora) were burned to produce charcoal. The tree would be cut about 30 cm (12 inches) above the ground, and within five years it would grow back to its previous size” Another important tree in the history of Bonaire was The dyewood, or Brazil wood tree (Haematoxylon brasiletto), and can found on a map from 1513 the labels the island as "Ysla do Brasil" ("Island of the Brazil tree").
    Flamingoes are mentioned and are seen in the Silnas or salt pans.

  3. so far . . .
    G Translate says slag baai is Battle Bay

    [BONAIRE DOMINANT TREE LOGGED] The timber of the typical grooved stems was much valued in the past because a red dye could be extracted from it, resulting in large-scale logging of this species.

    SCIENTIFIC NAME:Haematoxylum brasiletto
    ENGLISH NAME:Dyewood, Brasil wood
    DUTCH NAME:Verfhout

    [bonaire flamingo]
    Flamingos are native to the area with nesting on Bonaire.

  4. An interesting challenge - with several search approaches needed. Question 3 on the tree was the hardest and took the most time before finding what I think is the answer. The other bits were quick to solve (especially 1 and 4 - around 5 minutes max). The Q3 images took longer - maybe 15 for one early picture and another 30 minutes to find a much earlier one. But the tree.... that took also took a long time (30 mins I'd estimate).

    So answers.
    Q1) The name ‘Slagbaai’ is often said to derive from the Dutch word ‘Slachtbaai’, meaning slaughter bay. Historians, however, say the name more likely originates from salt harvesting activities since the times of the original Indian population. In the past the bay was called ‘Sla baai’. ‘Sla’ comes from the Papiamentu word ‘salu’, meaning salt. ( Most sites only give the first explanation i.e. Slaughter Bay - saying goats were slaughtered here and shipped to Curacao as the reason.

    2) The tree is the Brazilwood tree - cut down for the red dye it produced. "Centuries ago, the Park, like much of the island’s nature, had been completely stripped of many of the island’s indigenous trees. Especially the local Palu di Brasil, or Brazilwood tree, which yielded a much sought-after red dye, was cut down en masse." ( The red dye is mentioned also at on the history of Klein Bonaire - the small nearby island. says that one early name for the island was Ysla do Brasil" ("Island of the Brazil tree"). The Dutch seized Bonaire from the Spanish partly to get the wood which was used to prepare a red dye. The wood was shipped to Holland where it was rasped in the “rasp house” to extract the dye which was then used to colour cloth… The timber was also used to make bows for stringed instruments.

    3) I searched for Bonaire images and selected B&W images. There are several images on I suspected that (Boka Slagbaai) is the oldest because of the type of image and the sepia look. It's also shown on which includes a picture that's also dated from 1907 on
    The picture is also on Wikimedia Commons leading to the World Culture Museum collection - at where the description says 1900-1940.
    There's another old undated photo at - a man with a donkey.
    However the 1907 photo was from and the source was the Collectie Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen. So I did a search on Wikimedia Commons adding the keyword Bonaire. The picture of the well came up - dated 1913. However these two images came up too which were much earlier. This one of Kralendijk is from 1881-1889 and this one of a Bonaire girl is from 1884-1885.

    4) The flamingo is the American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) and appears to be native to Bonaire (although may migrate to Venezuela for mating). and other sites.

  5. [Early historic period image] Which makes me wonder just what DR means by historic period?
    Anyway this finds from 1552 a nice map: Titled: (by Getty) Map of the Maracaibo Lagoon, the tip of Paraguay, Aruba Island, Curacao and Bonaire, 1552.

    1. Good point: I left "historic period" undefined. So that map, and Arthur's BW photo, and even cave drawings would qualify.

    2. Check out my answer today. Thanks for the great idea of looking for maps!

  6. [bonaire rock art] finds
    Five centuries ago the limestone cave at Onima served as both shelter and artist's canvas for the island's Caiquetio inhabitants. The red-stained petroglyphs that adorn its walls remain undeciphered, offering visitors a glimpse of ancient Bonaire as mysterious as it is beautiful.

    same site: Bonaire's first inhabitants were the Caiquetios, a branch of the Arawak Indians who sailed across from what is now Venezuela around 1000 AD. Traces of Caiquetio culture are visible at a number of archaeological sites, including those at Lac Bay and northeast of Kralendijk. Rock paintings and petroglyphs have survived at the caves at Spelonk, Onima, Ceru Pungi, and Ceru Crita-Cabai

    1. Apparently there were earlier inhabitants than the Caiquetios - from the "Ceramic" and "Archaic" ages going back much earlier. There was also a land bridge to the islands about 12,000 years ago.

      There are 14 rock art sites on Bonaire (according to but no images :(

      There are images but I think from Aruba but the same sort are on Bonaire at 8.44m in on the video on dating back 2000 years (See:

      And as you say - there are rock art images from 500 years ago. Not just on the geographia site but also where it's the headline picture.
      Another travel site has another image at!gallery-141-314
      and there are 4 at
      The ones in the Spelonk caves you mention are at

      This explains the white lines on most images:

    2. Thanks to both Jon and Arthur for these excellent comments. I hadn't thought about the white lines on the images before. I'll have to check those out next time I'm in Bonaire!

  7. I found an interesting book on the flamingos of Bonaire by searching

    [flamingos imported Bonaire]

    (Note: stands for Dutch Caribbean Biodiversity Database.)


    Using the Ctrl F function was not very successful in finding what I wanted so I browsed the first part of the (97 page) book. More relevant information might be found later in the book or the references the author cites.

    In the Intro:

    I. INTRODUCTiON Bonaire bas harboured flamingos for many centuries and these birds are still called by their old Indian name "Chog6go". They breed here more or less regularly and with variable success; the poor breeding results in a number of years-e.g. in 1958 and 1959-gave rise to the present study.

    On page 9:

    Voous (1957, p. 77-78) surveyed the known observations up to 1952 as. follows: It is almost certain that the namingo rookery in Bonaire dates back to the time that the first Europeans visited the islands in the south Caribbean Sea. According to Svaen (1943), who ably summarized the historical records of the flamingos in the Netherlands Antilles the old traveller and buccaneer WILLIAM DAMPJLR saw flamingos in 1681 in "an island lying near the main of America, right against Querisao (Curacao), called by Privateers Flamingo Key, from the multitude of these Fowls that breed there (p. 165)."

    If the birds were there in 1681 how would they have been imported? They might have relocated themselves there from elsewhere due to a variety of reasons.

    1. It just occurred to me that the question "Have they always been on Bonaire?" is somewhat ambiguous depending what “always” means.

      Also, "namingo rookery" should be "flamingo rookery".

    2. I have gone way off task on flamingos and have learned so much about these amazing creatures. More to the task, I thought I should track down the primary sources cited by Booth. I found the Voous and Swaen resources in the Reference section of his paper.

      I first searched
      [Voous 1957 The birds of Aruba]
      The result:

      The Birds of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire by K.H. Voous

      I downloaded the text and went to page 77 where the author cited the Swaen 1943 source.

      So I then searched on
      [Swaen 1943 De Flamingos]

      The result:

      This book appears to be in Dutch, but when the author quotes William Dampier it is in English. Swaen mentions an island BonAiry.

      I searched
      [William Dampier flamingos]

      (which I should have done at the beginning) and there was a wealth of information mostly about him but I did find his original work.;view=fulltext

      Which contains “I have seen Flamingos at Rio la Hacha, and at an Island lying near the Main of America, right against Querisao, called by Privateers Flamingo Key, from the multitude of these Fowls that breed there: and I never saw of their Nests and young but here.”
      I assuming that Querisao means Curaçao. Booth assumed this island was Bonaire. Is it really?

      I’m not sure I learned any more from this but improved my credibility.

    3. Nicely done. Thanks for posting!

  8. One thing that sparked my curiosity was why when we say, for example, a flamboyance of flamingos, is the ending of the bird name -os rather than -oes. At first I thought that English is an irregular language and let it go at that. Then I decided to look further. According to -oes is the most common ending, with the exception being words borrowed from other languages. According to Macmillan “The word flamingo derives from the Spanish word ‘flamengo’, which translates literally as ‘flame-coloured’.” So there it is.

    I saw a lot of these critters growing up but had never heard this name for them: