North Sulawesi Coral Colonies
We keep on going back and forward to North Sulawesi. Manado, Bunaken and Bangka, enjoy a tremendous diversity of coral life. The more we go there, the more we learn about this place, and the more hooked we are on this place. It’s getting to the point that we definitely need our North Sulawesi coral fix every few months!
Oversized Coral Colony Heaven
On our most recent trip, we went to train local communities about coral reef preservation and restoration. One thing really struck us at this time: the large quantity of huge oversized coral colonies. Some of them as large as houses, and an infinity serie of truck size colonies.
If we think of any species, and where we saw the largest colony of this particular species, North Sulawesi will come straight come back to our minds 95% of the time. Batas Kota, the Manado Bay great dive site, is home to one of the biggest hammer coral Euphyllia (Fimbriaphyllia) ancora. It’s bigger than your eyes can take you.
Fukui point in Bunaken in the site where you can find a pagoda coral, Turbinaria peltata that is bigger than a tennis court. This colony is a reef in itself.
We remember diving Sabora dive site on Bangka island, with a bit of current, and having the feeling of being part of a movie series on corals. The entire coast is a series of different species of coral colonies that grow from 5m (15 feet) to 15 m (45 feet).
They’re separated by a 20 m (60 feet) sand channel. Pavona clavus the size of a house, followed by a Flower pot (Goniopora), then an Alveopora gigas, then a Gardinoseris planulata, the honeycomb coral, etc.
Huge coral colonies just don’t stop until you have some air left in your tank!
So what is so special about this place? Well, a few things:
Bunaken National Park:
Bunaken National Park was created in 1991, and was the first Indonesian National Marine Park ever created. So almost 30 years down the road, we can see that this has brought a tremendous sense of conservation over the whole area. While reefs have been bombed in many surrounding area, the one around North Sulawesi have been relatively spared. This is actually a great achievement, and reveals the huge importance of Marine Park, and Diving tourism.
The 6200 m Depth of the very old Celèbes Basin, 800 m of the Manado Bay, and the 1800 m just behind Bunaken island, certainly has a great cooling effect. It keeps the sea water temperature cooler in that area. And reefs around North Sulawesi haven’t experienced so far, large bleaching events. So in this part of the world, these large colonies are quite preserved.
The other very important fact, that has a great bleaching reducing effect on the reefs there, is the Indonesian throughflow. It brings a constant supply of fresh, cool oceanic water flowing through this area from the Pacific. The cause of it, is trade winds blowing west in the central pacific.
All these factors, combined together, created the real “Coral Freak’ paradise. And NO, North Sulawesi is not ONLY the muck paradise of the world, or the Turtle Capital. But also a coral jewel, that holds the world highest coral diversity, but also among the world oldest coral colonies.
Another reason to preserve this area. These large coral colonies are a world heritage. They should be properly monitored, time lapsed and transected to gather data that will be of tremendous importance to the understanding of coral reefs for the future generations.
A great shoot out at Murex Dive Resorts, for being aware of that! If you want to learn more about corals, a Coral learning program is in place in Murex Dive Resorts called Ocean Gardener. More info on: http://murexdive.com/ and https://oceangardener.org/