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  • The Caribbean is a region brimming with natural beauty and rich biodiversity.

  • But this natural paradise is in jeopardy.

  • The sea is clogged with waste,

  • and many islands are under threat from rising water levels.

  • Coral reefs are bleaching

  • and thick blankets of algae and seaweed are choking the seas.

  • Animals and people are suffering.

  • But there is hope.

  • Dedicated conservationists are fighting the effects of climate change.

  • This won't be here forever if we don't take care of it.

  • They are trying to raise awareness about environmental issues.

  • The message is to make the children fall in love with the wildlife.

  • Curaçao is known for its beautiful beaches,

  • which draw tourists from far and wide.

  • But the marine and inland environment is also home to many wild animals.

  • Including Bob, a very special flamingo,

  • famous not only in Curaçao, but all over the world.

  • Odette Doest and Flamingo Bob are inseparable.

  • The veterinarian came to Bob's rescue

  • when it flew into a hotel window and was seriously injured.

  • They posted it and within 10 minutes I was in front of them,

  • like 'Hi, I'm here for the flamingo' and they were like 'wow'.

  • Bob can no longer spread his left wing properly, and his feet are too stiff.

  • He would struggle to survive in the wild, so Odette took him in.

  • When they asked me his name,

  • I was like 'Oh, he's a flamingo, and then in a split second I thought,

  • 'Oh, his name is Flamingo ? Bob!'

  • Isn't that right Bob? Doesn't he look like a Bob?

  • The funny thing is - the name Bob means flamboyant, to be well-known,

  • and now he's famous!

  • Nomen is omen, right?

  • It's a Thursday.

  • And on Thursdays, Bob heads out on his new job, as a wildlife ambassador.

  • So, this bag is especially for him, not to get hurt. Yay.

  • Today they're visiting a primary school.

  • Meanwhile Bob is used to the passenger seat.

  • Even if I walk in somewhere and people do know that I'm coming in with Bob

  • then I have had the reaction, likeoh, is he real?

  • So they think I just run around with a fake flamingo next to me,

  • which is also funny.

  • Bob makes a grand entrance. The children are thrilled.

  • After some brief introductions, the children get a closer look.

  • Some of the children are hesitant

  • more so than Bob, who by now has clocked up plenty of experience.

  • Odette spent several months preparing him for visits like these.

  • None of the children have ever been this close to a flamingo.

  • Odette then begins explaining

  • the importance of protecting nature and animals.

  • Even a child's kite abandoned outside

  • can spell death for flamingos and other animals.

  • This is nylon, and once it's in nature it doesn't go away.

  • A cute flamingo like Bob could get stuck in this.

  • Bob is quite the hit.

  • The message sticks.

  • Plastic isn't good for them.

  • If they die, it's not OK.

  • Odette knows that moments like these can make a difference.

  • When they have that 'Ah!' reaction,

  • then you have the gateway to their hearts.

  • With their young, spunky minds

  • they will question their parents, their friends.

  • You know, they will bring up some discussion

  • what are we doing, why are we doing what are we doing,

  • is this something that needs to be continued or not?

  • This is what Odette is hoping to prevent.

  • Away from the tourist destinations,

  • many of Curaçao's bays are clogged with waste.

  • Nylon fishing lines and fishing hooks are simply abandoned.

  • Birds and animals get tangled in them.

  • The lucky ones, Odette finds and nurses back to health.

  • Odette's work as a vet keeps her busy.

  • But she also runs a wildlife sanctuaryshe's always loved birds.

  • Flamingo Odi is a year old.

  • Odette found her seriously injured near a pool

  • and has been tending to her for months.

  • You know, a flamingo can live up to 40 to 60 years in the wild,

  • so she's a baby.

  • And, if she's a female, reproducing also for the flamingo population.

  • Bob keeps Odi company,

  • so that she doesn't forget how to interact with her own species.

  • She'll return to the wild soon.

  • They need to not be tame. Rehab is not cuddling.

  • Rehab is wild animals that are hurt,

  • you help them, and you put them back as soon as you can.

  • Odette is currently rehabilitating 45 wild animals.

  • They need medication, cages, and 80kg of food each week.

  • The wildlife clinic and sanctuary depends on donations.

  • For Odette, it's a labor of lovebut it's exhausting work.

  • Do you ever stop working?

  • No. Yeah, when I sleep.

  • Soon Odette will have even more work on her hands.

  • Over just a few days,

  • a thick mass of sargassum seaweed has drifted to the island's coast.

  • For sea turtles trapped in the algae, it can be deadly.

  • A group of conservationists have made it their mission to save them.

  • A call came early in the morning.

  • Boom! I got this call: Julieta we need you. Come!

  • Julieta is 14 years old

  • and is a volunteer at the sea turtle conservation organization.

  • She and the team leader Ard are about to head out.

  • Nearly all species of sea turtle are now endangered.

  • The turtles are in distress, paddling helplessly.

  • They're fighting for their lives, we want to do what we can to save them.

  • Many turtles are trapped in the mass of seaweed.

  • But out here on the water, they're almost impossible to see.

  • And they're not easy to rescue.

  • The algae are so uncomfortable, it actually hurts when they hit you.

  • It smells very bad.

  • And you can't hear anything, the water just everywhere, it's stressful.

  • These huge seaweed blooms are a recent problem.

  • They're caused by a rise in water temperatures

  • along with agricultural fertilizers washing into the ocean from Brazil.

  • Sea turtles come to the surface to breathe,

  • and then find themselves trapped in the thick mat of seaweed.

  • Without help, they would die in the heat.

  • Every rescued sea turtle is a cause for celebration.

  • When I save a turtle, it means a lot. I feel like I'm helping.

  • But it's not just turtles, it's everything, the ocean itself,

  • and everything, creatures, it's wonderful to me,

  • and I'd die for that place!

  • The team have been working here for days on end.

  • They've rescued 25 turtles so far.

  • Many of them are undernourished and weak

  • and will need to be nursed back to health.

  • The sickest turtles are brought to Odette for help.

  • You found it on the algae, but not on the rocks?

  • No, this one was in the middle and really inside.

  • It had probably been there for a while.

  • These turtles are suffering from a tumor disease found in marine turtles.

  • Odette will surgically remove some of the growths

  • this one is making it hard for the turtle to see.

  • Curaçao's network of wildlife conservationists call on each other.

  • These turtles are healthy but need to put on some weight.

  • They'll go to the aquarium for a while to recover.

  • Julieta has been volunteering for three years.

  • She helps whenever she can, wherever she's needed.

  • Being able to help is just wonderful and it gives you hope.

  • Every summer hurricanes pass through the Caribbean.

  • In recent years they've grown more frequent and gained in force.

  • The strongest storms bring death and destruction

  • like here in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

  • The storms are being fueled by rising water temperatures.

  • A hurricane could spell the end of the Guna Yala archipelago of Panama.

  • Angel Martinez is worried

  • storms are growing more powerful and the sea level is rising.

  • Angel and Saila are fishing today.

  • These waters have long sustained the indigenous Guna people.

  • God created this and gave it to us. He gave us this privilege.

  • We should enjoy it, but we also have to take care of it.

  • We have to preserve nature, the environment.

  • They're hoping to find enough fish for a meal, and perhaps some to sell.

  • But that's proving difficult this morning.

  • This is a sea cucumber! The Chinese like these.

  • This is a lionfish. They're venomous, if it stings you, you could die.

  • The water is shallow here.

  • The island is surrounded by a reef that forms a natural barrier.

  • This has an impact on us.

  • Every time it rains, or high waves hit the island, the island is flooded.

  • 50 of the small islands are inhabited.

  • Some of the most beautiful have hotels built on them, for tourists.

  • The Guna live on the other islands.

  • Many men work as fishermen or as tour guides.

  • The women sell their handicrafts.

  • Angel's island, Gardi Sugdub, is 300m long and 150m wide.

  • Just about every inch of the island is built on.

  • Multi-generational families live under a single roof.

  • My mother sleeps here, I sleep here, my father sleeps there too.

  • This is our room.

  • The local people have dug up much of the reef,

  • and now they also have climate change to contend with.

  • Sea levels are rising and the island's days look to be numbered.

  • We had unusually heavy rain recently. It flooded the island, our home too.

  • The seawater came up to our ankles. It was unpleasant.

  • My mother and I bailed out the water all day.

  • We never had anything like this before.

  • Blaspez is also worried about his home.

  • The weather has become increasingly unpredictable.

  • Like many locals, he's trying to build a protective barrier,

  • made of discarded materials and coral from the reef.

  • We look for coral and fill up the holes with it,

  • so we can build a natural barrier against the water.

  • Local people are removing the coral that protects their island

  • in hopes of protecting their homes.

  • It's a vicious circle.

  • Angel hopes the global community

  • will finally take action against climate change.

  • Nature responds to our actions that damage the environment.

  • We have to look after our Earth and keep this from getting worse.

  • That will require a change in perspective.

  • The government has long ignored the problem.

  • They've given up on the island

  • and say the families should be resettled to the mainland.

  • The move would threaten the way of life of an entire community.

  • The older residents are especially reluctant to move.

  • We are like elephants, we want to die in our homeland.

  • If it wasn't absolutely necessary, with global warming, the storms...

  • We feel that we have to go to a better place.

  • A thousand kilometers to the north, there is still cause for hope.

  • The coastal waters of Belize are breathtakingly beautiful.

  • People here live surrounded by the wonders of nature.

  • But the greatest treasure is under water.

  • The Belize Barrier Reef

  • is the second-largest coral reef system in the world.

  • Some of the coral growth is believed to be 7000 years old.

  • Just a few years ago, the reef was on the endangered list.

  • Now it's slowly coming back to life.

  • Monique Vernon is helping to preserve the reef.

  • She's doing the work she always dreamed of.

  • Even as a girl, she always knew she wanted to help rescue the coral reef.

  • What I feel like when I go to work is like 'Yes!'

  • When they call me and say, right we're going to go and do this,

  • go check the corals here, or whatever it is,

  • I'm like 'all right, let's do this, let's rock this, let's rock today!'

  • In the coastal village of Placencia, people live from fishing and tourism.

  • Both industries depend on the coral reef.

  • You know I come out on this trip many times, many days, and I say,

  • 'Man, I'm so blessed.'

  • And I look at everything that is in front of me and I think

  • 'I hope one day this doesn't become a memory.'

  • Underwater it's apparent that the reef is struggling.

  • Coral dies when the water becomes too warm and too acidic.

  • Storm surges from increasingly severe hurricanes also damage the reef.

  • Climate change is leaving behind a bleached, grey emptiness.

  • Monique works for marine biologist Lisa Carne's NGO, Fragments of Hope.

  • They're about to harvest some special coral

  • they'll use to 'reforest' the reef.

  • We're overdue, so there's no time to waste right now.

  • Corals are basically like the forests in the sea,

  • so just like the trees in the forest

  • provide habitat and shelter for many other animals,

  • the corals do the same on the reef.

  • Through careful research,

  • they determined which coral is especially vigorous.

  • When we collect from the donor colony,

  • we never take more than 10% of the large piece.

  • And these corals of course have a very fast, rapid growth rate.

  • They use a technique called micro-fragmenting,

  • in which small coral colonies are transplanted to other locations.

  • First the harvested coral is sawed into 5cm pieces.

  • Then the pieces are halved.

  • Fragments of hope

  • and because coral is a living creature, they have to work quickly.

  • The small pieces of coral

  • are seeded in places where the original coral has died.

  • They come out here several times a week

  • and place the fragments onto so-called cookies, made of a cement mixture.