Tourism, Fishing and Sustainability: Three sides of Curaçao

We are approaching the end of a frenetic week of filming for our documentary about coral reefs and Curaçao. Thursday was packed with interesting interviews spanning a range of topics.

The perspectives of the fisherman Robert Edwin Flameling and Brenda Benjamin from the Tourism Bureau are to some extent at odds with the desires of the scientists and environmental officials. Benjamin said that the island doesn’t have enough hotels, given that tourism flow in Curaçao is increasing and the sector is expected to thrive in January and February of next year.

Flameling took the biologist Aaron Hartmann and Professor Revkin out well before dawn, returned to the dock with three small tuna — representing only enough income to pay for the diesel fuel burned in seeking them. He expressed anger about the runaway coastal development all around the bay where he keeps his boat, about competition from industrial fishing fleets and supermarkets selling frozen imported seafood. And he was skeptical about discussions aimed at establishing the island’s first “no fish” zones.

curacao tuna catch

Aaron Hartmann, who is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson of the Waitt Institute both presented hopeful, but realistic visions of sustained coral ecosystems, built on working with fishermen, divers and officials to develop a consensus when comes to “using the seas without using them up” – Johnson’s Waitt Institute motto.

Continue reading


Our Class Meets One Coral Challenge – Naming Our Film

by Lissette De Leon

Halfway through this week’s class, Dr. Luskay said it was time to come up with the title of the documentary. This is tough when you haven’t shot any footage yet! But it had to be done because of advance publicity for the premiere in May. Who would have thought creating a film title could be so difficult?

Prof. Revkin opened up a blank white Word document on the screen. (Side note: If you see his laptop you won’t be able to keep up with all the tabs and windows he has open.)

Then all the thinking began. Students blurted out words related to the documentary: revival, rescuing, underwater city, conserve, coral, algae and many more. (See the Wordle above.) Dr. Luskay wanted everyone to have input, but their wasn’t much creativity in the room. A couple of students, including myself, were unable to come up with any inspiring ideas, which appeared to drive Dr. Luskay insane!

Others filled the gap, though: Despair to Repair. Yuck to Yeah! The best out of all the ideas, thanks to Dallas and Cassie, was “KEEPIN’ IT CORAL.” Shockingly Prof. Revkin liked the idea, Dr. Luskay said “I CANNOT BELIEVE IT” and stormed out of the room. When she returned, the brainstorming resumed and we settled on this title:

Curacao’s Coral Challenge – Reviving the Rain Forests of the Sea

After that hour-long stressful struggle, Dr. Luskay said, “Does everyone agree on this title? Because later I do not want to hear about other suggestions.” Finally, with a sigh of relief, the title was official.

While Keepin’ it Coral didn’t make the cut, Prof. Revkin (who’s a musician on the side) said it would be a perfect name for the key soundtrack song. Alex Coma, who composes and mixes music, is on the task.

Keepin’ it Coral… COMING SOON!