Protected Area Overview
|Size||600 ha. (1,500 ac.)|
The Curaçao Underwater Park, established in 1983, is located off Curaçao’s southeast coast. It stretches along 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) of shoreline from the high-water mark to a depth of 60 metres, from the outskirts of Willemstad to the most eastern tip of the island. The park includes 600 hectares (6 km2) of pristine fringing reefs as well as 436 hectares (4.36 km2) of inland bays with mangroves and seagrass beds.
Because it is on the edge of the hurricane belt, Curaçao has well-developed fringing coral reefs that are home to an array of barracudas, sea turtles, manta rays and sharks. These reefs are home to 65 species of coral and more than 350 species of fish. The reef area consists mostly of a submarine terrace covered with a wide array of fringing reef types, both biologically and geologically interesting. The reefs found within the Curaçao Underwater Park are some of the island’s most pristine reefs, especially as they are located along a 12 kilometre (7.5 mile) stretch of coastline that is undeveloped and uninhabited. The reefs inside the park are the most similar to what was “natural” along the shores of Curaçao before extensive human occupation occurred.
The park’s inner bays hold their own particular types of community and have an important ecological value. Seagrass beds and mangroves are important nurseries and foraging grounds for a wide variety of coral reef fish, sea turtles and invertebrates including globally threatened Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas). The sandy beaches are important turtle nesting grounds.
The Curaçao Underwater Park provides opportunities for high quality diving and snorkeling. It has roughly 19 marked dive sites which provide access to some of the island’s most pristine coral reefs as well as numerous ship wrecks, some dating back almost 100 years.
Park Management Organisation: CARMABI
The Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity Foundation (CARMABI) is a local non-governmental, not for profit foundation originally founded in 1955 as a marine biological research station. It merged with the National Parks Foundation of the Netherlands Antilles (STINAPA) in 1999 and is legally mandated by the Island Government to manage Curaçao’s terrestrial protected areas. Although it does not have a mandate to do so, it also oversees the management of the island’s marine protected area.
CARMABI’s mission is to work towards a sustainable society, in which the sustainable management of nature leads to benefits which future generations can also enjoy. All sectors in the community play a role in this process. The Foundation aims to fulfil this mission by achieving the following goals:
- Conduct or facilitate research to support effective nature management, nature conservation, nature restoration, and nature development;
- Acquire, conserve, protect, manage, restore and develop natural areas in the broadest sense, including objects or places of value to geology, history and/or archaeology;
- Create awareness within the community, especially school children, regarding the contribution they can make to achieve sustainable development on Curaçao.