Bunaken Island

Posted on 19.43.00, under

The bunaken National Marine Park was formally established in 1991 and is among the first of Indonesia’s growing system of marine parks. The park covers a total surface area of 89,065 hectares, 97% of which is overtain by sparking clear, warm tropical water. The remaining 3% of the park is terrestrial, including the five islands of Bunaken, Manado Tua, Mantehage, Nain and Siladen. Althpugh each of these islands has a speial character, it is yhe aquatica ecosystem that attracts most naturalists. The water of Bunaken National Marine Park are extremely deep (1566m in Manado Bay), clear (up t0 35-40m visibility), refreshing in temperature (27-29 C) and harbor some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world.

Pick any of group of interest – corals,fish, echidonderms or sponges and the number of families, genera or species is bound to be astonishingly high. For example, 7 of the 8 species of giant clams that ocour in the world, occur in Bunaken. The park has around 70 genera of corals; compare this to a mere 10 in Hawaii. Although the exact number of fish species is unknown, it may be slightly higher than in the Philippines, where 2,500 species or nearly 70% of all fish species known to the Indo-western Pacific, are found.

Oceanic currents may explain, in part, why Bunaken National Marine Park is such a treasure trove of biodiversity. Northeasternly currents generally sweep through the park but abundant counter currents and gyros related to lunar cycles are belived to be a trap for free swimming larvae. This is particulary true vicinity of Lekuan or Fukui may spot over 33 species of butterfly fish and numerous types of groupers, demsles, wrasses and gobies. The gobies, smallish fish with bulging eyes and modified fins that allow them to attach to hard surfaces, are the most diverse but least known group of fish in the park.

Biologists believed that the abudance of hard corals is crucial in maintaining the high levels of diversity in the park. Harrd corals are architects of the reefs, without them, numerous marine organisms would be homeless and hungry. Many species of fish are closely associated with particular types of corals (folious, branching, massive, etc.) for shelter and egg-laying. Others, like the enormous Bumphead Parrotfish, Balbometopon muricatum, are “coralivores” and depend on hard corals fpr their sustenance. Bony mouth parts fused into an impressive “beak” allow these gregarious fish to crunch corals like roasted peanuts.

Some 20,000 people live on the natural resources of Bunaken National Marine Park. Although there are inevitable conflicts between resource protection and use by people, the Indonesian govermment is taking a fairly preventing overexploitation. Local communities, govemment officials, dive resort operators, local nature groups, tourist and scientists have played an active role in developing exclusive zones for diving, wood collection, fishing and other forms of utilization.if successful, Bunaken Marine Park will stand as an important example of how Sulawesi, and the rest of Indonesia, can work to protect its natural resources.

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