Bonaire National Marine Park

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Chapter 4. ECOLOGICAL CRITERIA

(Guidelines and Criteria Section B/ Ecological Criteria) Nominated areas must conform to at least one of the eight ecological criteria. Describe how the nominated site satisfies one or more of the following criteria. (Attach in Annex any relevant supporting documents.)

Representativeness:


A wide range of habitats are represented on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire and within the surrounding waters. These range from the xerotrophic (drought resistant) forest covering the northern part of the Island, through sand dunes, salt pans, mangroves, seagrass beds to a number of different coral reef communities. The following descriptions focus on the marine and terrestrial habitats and species which are associated directly or indirectly with the Bonaire National Marine Park (species lists can be found in Appendix 4). The northern part of the island is hilly consisting of fine grained volcanic rock and limestone. The southern part is flat and consists of fossil coral reef deposits enclosing some lagoonal areas which are either open (Lac) or enclosed (Pekelmeer).

Diversity:


Reef formation begins at the shoreline with a gradually shelving submarine terrace extending seaward for between 10 and 250 m. Beyond this, at depths of 10-12 m, the terrace drops off and the reef slope commences. The drop-off zone exhibits maximum diversity of benthos and maximum coral cover (Bak, 1977) The reef slope drops down steeply at a 20-50° angle to depths of 25-55 m where it flattens out onto a shelf. A second drop-off occurs beyond this (Duyl, 1985) to depths of >50m. There is some zonation within the coral community with shallow water dominated by a mix of stony and soft corals, mid-depth reefs (15-25 metres) being dominated by Montastrea sp. and deeper waters being dominated by Agaricia sp.

The reef slopes from 12m to 25m continue to show an abundance and diversity of stony coral and other sessile (fixed) organisms in most places. The deeper, lower reef slopes continue to be dominated by Encrusting Fan-Leaf Alga (Lobophora variegate), with some Lettuce, Plate and Star Corals in between.