Introduction to Bunaken Island
The Bunaken National Marine Park was formally established in 1991 and was among the first of Indonesia’s growing system of marine parks. The park is just under 80,000 hectares of land (3%) and sea (97%), located in Manado in the province of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. It comprises the 5 islands of Bunaken, Manado Tua, Siladen, Montehage and Nain. It is part of the Indo-Pacific region which supports the highest marine biodiversity on earth.
What makes the park so special?
The park was established because of the marine bio-diversity it supports, because it is a migratory route for protected animals and because it is of high economic value for fisheries and tourism. There are over 20,000 residents in the area who depend on the natural resources of the park. The fear was that if the area was uncontrolled then over-fishing, destructive fishing practices and unchecked pollution would ruin the marine habitat which would be to the detriment of everyone concerned.
In addition to its huge biodiversity Bunaken is also a place where rare and endangered animals can be found such as coelacanths, dugongs, whales and turtles, as well asdolphins.
The park has a unique bathymetry, which is an attraction to tourists diving at Bunaken Island. The absence of a continental shelf in the northern part of North Sulawesi allows the coastal area to drop directly down to the sea floor.
- There are at least 58 different genera and sub-genera of corals in the park.
- The number of different fish species is estimated at 2,000.
- The deepest water is around 1,360 metres between Manado Tua and Montehage.
- There are about 25 dive sites in Bunaken
What can and is being done?
Educational programmes are underway to inform the local Manado population of steps they can take to preserve their livelihoods and environment yet still sustain themselves. There are some simple rules that can be followed which will allow for preservation of the habitat for future generations:
- Young, undersized fishes, lobsters and sea snails should be returned to the water so they have a chance to reproduce juvenile stock for the future.
- Illegal fishing methods such as bomb-fishing and cyanide fishing should never be used as they destroy reef eco-systems by killing numerous corals, fishes, and other animals that are not utilised by people, but are important to a healthy reef ecosystem.
- Gill nets and reef fish traps should be used carefully to avoid damage to corals.
- Live coral should never be used for building materials nor broken or overturned to find reef animals.
- Protected species such as giant clams, turtles and their eggs should never be taken from the water as their numbers are already precariously low.
- The most highly protected zones must be respected and guarded to allow animals to reproduce and allow their off-spring to re-populate surrounding reefs.
Source : Dive in the world.
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