Booby Trap is the perfect Curacao dive site to work on sponge identification. You will encounter all kinds of different sponges on the sloping reef, from the common sponge, the rope sponge and the branching tube sponge to the striking elephant ear sponge. Dive over the reef and see how many different species you can identify.
Accessible only by boat, you will encounter other interesting residents at Booby Trap including Nurse sharks, rays, and every so often even a turtle.
Tafelberg (Table Mountain) is a large flat-topped hill in southeastern Curaçao, near the Santa Barbara beach. It is 196.1 metres (643 ft) high, making it only the fourth-highest point on Curaçao behind the 372 metres (1,220 ft) Christoffelberg and two intermediate peaks, all in the volcanic northwest of the island. It is formed mostly of the Quaternary limestone that forms the south-east of Curaçao, although there are also commercially-significant phosphate and calcareous sand deposits.
Fossils of Pleistocene giant tortoises, Chelonoidis, of an estimated 80 centimetres (31 in) carapace length have been found in fill deposits.
The vegetation of the area is sparse, owing to the endemic lack of water on Curaçao. Comparisons of grazed and inaccessibly ungrazed areas show that the natural vegetation was predominantly of the bromeliad Tillandsia flexuosa, but that this could not tolerate grazing and since the introduction of livestock by humans, primarily goats, has largely been replaced by annual grasses, prickly pear and shrubby acacias.
Phosphate mining began at Santa Barbara Plantation in the 1870s, although by 1900 it had been abandoned and the island was in an economically near-derelict state. Mining stopped in 1891, largely owing to a dispute between the landowner and John Godden, the English operator of the mine, and the last exports were in 1895, after 175,000 tons had been exported. It re-opened though in 1913 and was still in operation at the time of Willem van de Poll’s visit in 1947. From 1914, the entire economy of Curaçao was re-invigorated by the construction of the Isla Oil Refinery to refine Venezuelan crude oil and the first railway on the island was built for phosphate traffic, a gravity-worked cable funicular from the mountain to the harbour on Fuikbaai near Nieuwpoort.
Limestone is also mined in the area and with the great expansion and prosperity post-WWII, this was in demand for the production of cement and, with local sand, concrete for local construction, aided by cheap fuel as distillation waste from the refinery. By the 1960s, this had led to a perceptible change in the shape of the mountain when viewed from a distance. To preserve its appearance, mining since has adopted a ‘hollow-tooth’ strategy, where mining proceeds and has hollowed out much of the volume of the mountain, whilst preserving its outer periphery, at least for the remaining Northern face.