The Bunaken National Park is a marine park in the north of Sulawesi island, Indonesia. The park is located near the centre of the Coral Triangle, providing habitat to 390 species ofcoral as well as many fish, mollusc, reptile and marine mammal species. The park is representative of Indonesian tropical waterecosystems, consisting of seagrass plain, coral reef, and coastal ecosystems.
The Bunaken National Marine Park was formally established in 1991 and is among the first of Indonesia’s growing system of marine parks. itcovers a total surface area of 890.65 hectares, 97% of which is marine habitat. The remaining 3% of the park is terrestrial, including the five islands of Bunaken, Manado Tua, Mantehage, Nain and Siladen. Although each of these islands has a special character, it is the aquatic ecosystem that attracts most naturalist.
A very rich coral ecosystem covers most of Bunaken NationalPark, dominated by fringing reef and barrier reef corals. There are about 390 species of coral recorded in the waters of thepark. The seaweeds that can be found here include Caulerpa,Halimeda, and Padina species, while the dominant seagrasses, in particular in the islands of Montehage and Nain, are Thalassia hemprichii, Enhallus acoroides, and Thalassodendron ciliatum. The park is also abundant indifferent species of fish, marine mammals and reptiles, birds, molluscs and mangrove species.
The waters of Bunaken National Marine Park are extremely deep (1566 m in Manado Bay), clear (up to 35-40 m visibility), refreshing in temperature (27to 29⁰C) and harbor some of the highestlevels of biodiversity in the world. It has ahigh diversity of corals, fish, echinoderms or sponges.
Notably, 7 of the 8 species of giantclams that occur inthe world, occur in Bunaken. It also claims to have seven times more genera of coral than Hawaii, andhas more than 70% of all the known fish species of the Indo-Western Pasific.
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 arebelieved to be a trap for free swimming larvae. This is particularly true on the south side of the crescent- shaped Bunaken Island, lying in the heart of the park.
A snorkeler or diver in the vicinity of Lekuanor Fukui may spot over 33 species of butterflyfish and numerous types of groupers, damsels, wrasses and gobies. The gobies, smallish fishwith 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.
On land, the islands are rich in species of palm, sago, woka, silar and coconut. Among the animal species that live on the land and the beaches are Celebes Crested Macaque, Timor Deer, andSulawesi Bear Cuscus. The mangrove forest of the park contains, among others Rhizophora and Sonneratiaspecies. This forest is also rich inspecies of crab, lobster, mollusc, and sea birds as gulls, herons, sea doves, and storks.