Sinergia is located on Tierra Bomba Island, in the town Bocachica, 200 meters from San Fernando Fort and only 800 meters from Varadero Reef
Cartagena and Surrounding Water
The bay is formed by the city of Cartagena and the island of Tierra Bomba. Discovered by the Spanish in the 16th century, the area has been of interest ever since. Today the bay has much boat traffic from cargo ships, personal boats, and international cruise ships, all of which enter through the channel located on the south side of Tierra Bomba island, in front of Bocahica town.
Canal del Dique
The Dique Channel was artificially made by the Spanish hundreds of years ago and brings fresh water and sediments from mainland into the bay. It is a threat to the bay and reef´s heath due to increasing the turbidity of the water, raising water temperatures, washing down fertilizers and other contamination into the ocean, and changing the salinity of the water.
Coral Reefs Surrounding Cartagena
The reefs around Cartagena are world famous for their diversity, health, and resilience. While there is pollution inside the Bay of Cartagena, in the open sea the reality changes completely and there is a coral ecosystem full of life, with a lot of variety and that generates hope for everyone, especially in a time when most reefs around the world are dying yet Cartagena´s reefs remain healthy. Sinergia house is located just in front of where Cartagena´s bay ends and the coral reefs begin, facing the open ocean and directly in front of one of the ocean´s "Hope Spots" called Varadero reef.
Varadero Reef, a global ¨Hope Spot¨ on our Doorstep
Just outside of Cartagena, Colombia lies a global ocean "Hope Spot" named Varadero Reef, as designated by international non-profit Mission Blue. Around the world, coral reefs are bleaching and dying off due to rising ocean temperatures. This is especially worrisome considering corals provide the majority of the oxygen in our atmosphere and, furthermore, are biodiversity hotspots that cover less than .2% of the ocean but are home to 25% of its species. Varadero Reef experiences dramatic changes in water temperature and composition due to its proximity to Cartagena´s bay and Dique Channel, yet its corals remain incredibly healthy and diverse. It is unknown how Varadero Reef exists; scientists never thought corals could survive nevermind thrive in such conditions. Despite its global significance, very little research is being done on Varadero.
In addition to being a very relevant reef for studies of climate change and coral resistance, it turns out that it is quite easy to study. It is a reef that starts at 2 meters deep, and most of the corals are low enough to be able to access easily and safely with diving. It is also right in front of Sinergia house and the town of Bocachica.
To the south of Tierra Bomba and along the entire open sea coast of Baru Island is an extension of the Varadero reef, including reefs within the Coral National Park. Here, there are still very healthy and diverse coral and animal colonies, although they are slightly further away from Cartagena. In addition, there is an underwater museum and other works of sunken art and shipwrecks within the Bahia de los Vasquez along Baru Island that have corals growing on them and animals living there. The conditions of diving and accessing these reefs for investigation are also easy. From the Sinergia house in Bocachica the reefs of Isla Baru are between 10 and 20 minutes by boat.
Rosario and San Bernardo Islands
Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park extend to the Rosario and San Bernardo Islands, and also consists of our very diverse and healthy coral complex. It has a wide variety of sites and islands that can be accessed by speedboat from the Sinergia house in around 30 minutes.
Bocachica town, Tierra Bomba Island
The Tierra Bomba Island has 4 towns and more than 9,000 inhabitants. The largest town on the Island is Bocachica, and also is where the Sinergia house is based. Bocachica is around 30 minutes away by boat from Cartagena. It is located at the entrance to Cartagena´s Bay and and directly next to Varadero reef.
The island has one of the highest levels of unemployment in Cartagena, despite the majority of its population being young and in search for jobs. With 96.7% of the population living in poverty, the Varadero Reef just offshore is critical for the community as a food and livelihood source. Despite their reliance on and proximity to the reef, most of Bocachica's residents have never seen it nor understand its value. This often leads to unsustainable fishing practices such as dynamite fishing, which is unfortunately common and extremely harmful. Necessary education and training is not an option for Bocachica's residents due to costs of such trainings and, moreover, past research and projects about Varadero rarely are based in Bocachica nor incorporate its residents.