Atlas of the Living Reefs of Curaçao and Bonaire (Netherlands Antilles)

The importance of reefs for man is multilateral and ranges from age-old functions, such as acting as a rampart preventing shore erosion, to modern mass tourism. Reefs offer man a source of income, actually providing subsistence for human populations. Food, often high quality protein , is the most important product . Reefs are also exploited for building material and for trade. Trade consists of living organisms such as aquarium fishes and other biota as shells, corals, etc. for jewelry and decoration purposes . A relatively new way of exploitation is by the tourist industry: snorkeling, diving and peripheral activities. Man grows more and more demanding in his use of the resources of the reef. Simultaneously, coastal development, urbanization and industrialization increase, obviously impairing reef communities . Reports on over-exploitation, pollution and mechanical destruction damaging reefs, are accumulating and show an increasing number of reefs suffering under the stress exerted on the shallow marine water habitat. Many reef areas are reported to deteriorate or be killed due to direct or indirect effects of tnan-induced disturbances

Opportunities for application of the atlas range widely in marine sciences, coastal planning and management. In the field of marine sciences the atlas will probably be most useful for studies in reef ecology, reef development, morphology and paleontology. Its value for coastal planning, management and conservation of the resources lies in immediate practical use.

This atlas contains 63 figures, 14 tables and 41 maps to give the reader an impression of what the coral reef ecosystems on the leeward coasts of Curaçao and Bonaire looked like in 1985. The leeward coasts of Curaçao (from Noordpunt to Oostpunt) and of Bonaire (from Malmok to the Willemstoren on the southern part) comprise approximately 66 resp. 56 km.

Precise habitat maps are drawn of this entire coastline and presented in fold-out maps in the back of the report.

[edit: a repetition of this study will presumably take place by Wageningen IMARES UR in the second half of 2013 to compare the two atlasses and pinpoint the changes that have occured over a little under 30 years.]

Back to search results