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Bonaire Marine Park

Date of Submission: 17/08/2011
Criteria: (vii)(ix)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
State, Province or Region:
Bonaire (Caribbean)
Coordinates: N12 10 W68 15
Ref.: 5627

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Bonaire Marine Park comprises the waters around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire to a depth of 60 metres from the high water mark. The site falls entirely within the territorial waters and the authority of the island executive of Bonaire. Klein Bonaire, the largest uninhabited island in the Caribbean, is part of the protected underwater park and is surrounded by abundant coral reefs.

The Bonaire Marine Park consists of 2,700 hectares of coral reef, seagrass beds and mangroves, and is the habitat of over 50 varieties of stony coral and over 350 species of reef fish. The Park's flora and fauna are in excellent condition. Its coral reefs are the least degraded in the entire Caribbean Sea. Sea turtles nest on the beaches of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire and feed in Lac Bay, which is partly closed off from the sea by a coral reef. The bay contains seagrass meadows and is surrounded by mangroves.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The unique combination of species makes the coral reefs of the Caribbean outstanding. The coral reefs and mangroves are well conserved and have high biodiversity. At the World Heritage Marine Biodiversity Workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam, Bonaire's marine biodiversity was unanimously recognised as having outstanding universal value.

Criterion vii: The flora and fauna of the Bonaire Marine Park are extremely varied and well conserved.

Criterion ix: The excellent state of conservation of the ecosystems has major significance for the entire region. The sea current transports larvae to other islands, replenishing the species there. The site has more reef fish than elsewhere in the Caribbean region, and also more species.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Bonaire Marine Park has outstanding universal value: the coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangroves are in superb condition. Its coral reefs are the least degraded in the entire Caribbean Sea.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Bonaire Marine Park is comparable with the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which is inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and is the largest coral reef in the northern hemisphere. However, Bonaire has a higher coral cover, with more young corals per square metre. It also has fewer macroalgae. The conclusion may therefore be drawn that the coral reefs of Bonaire are healthier than those of Belize.