The Bunaken Marine Park was officially established back in 1991 and was one of the first of Indonesia’s ever growing system of marine parks. The park covers roughly 890km2 of which 97% is aquatic, with the remaining 3% being terrestrial, and includes the islands of Bunaken, Siladen, Mantehage, Nain and the impressive inactive volcano of Manado Tua.
The islands are fringed by sea grass meadows, a shallow reef top, and finally sheer walls that drop to well over 1000 metres in many places. Because of the deep waters surrounding the islands and the steady currents that sweep through the park, the waters are highly rich in nutrients. Encrusting the walls are over 300 species of coral, and more than 1500 species of fish call these waters home. Here you can find a higher concentration of marine life living here than on the entire Great Barrier Reef!
The stunning sheer walls have many cracks, crevices, caves and overhangs, which provide a suitable shelter for a wide variety of marine life. You can expect to find an astonishing number or turtles swimming freely around the walls, reef sharks are frequently spotted hunting in the depths, and huge dogtooth tuna often shoot past in the blue. Look a little closer at the walls and you will see an incredible variety of macro life. Leaf scorpion fish, boxer crabs, ghost pipefish and pigmy seahorses can all be spotted dwelling on these reefs.
Due to the depth and the currents, water visibility is unusually clear. Average visibility is in excess of 25 metres, and on a good day you may get well over 40 metres! The water temperature varies from 25C to 28C but remains stable throughout the year. The NSWA (North Sulawesi Watersports Association) continues to work with local communities to establish no fishing zones and implement non-destructive fishing practices. Many inhabitants of the islands make their living off the park, and are doing their upmost to protect it so their children can do the same in the near future.
In Manado Bay, pods of Long Nosed Spinner Dolphins can be found performing incredible aerial acrobatics. Pilot whales are regularly seen, and even Sperm Whales and Orca pass through these waters. This is arguably one of the planets most unique and diverse marine environments.