Exploring Bunaken: The World’s Best Wall Diving
North Sulawesi has among the highest number of marine species in the world, combine that with impressive vertical cliff faces and crystal clear waters, we think it is fair to say that Bunaken National Park offers some of the best wall diving in the world! Diving Bunaken & Siladen’s famous walls will show you a magical world of weird and wonderful critters, from the very tiny to the very large. There are endless opportunities for macro photography, and you could spend dive after dive in the same spot, and still discover vast amounts of life. Although it is easy to get lost in the macro life and everybody has their favorite critter, probably the most popular resident of Bunaken Marine Park is the turtle.
Turtles of Bunaken: Graceful Giants and Critter Wonders
Everyone loves diving with turtles, maybe it is because of their elegance and grace, or maybe it is because they tend to just ignore divers and get on with life (this makes them great wide angle photography subjects). When teaching an Open Water course or Discover Scuba Dive, turtles are normally the number 1 creature the new divers would love to see. Without a doubt, turtles are the most popular marine creatures in the world. That is one of the reasons why Bunaken Marine Park offers some of the worlds best wall diving, we have an unbelievable number of turtles here!
Thank you to our dear guest John Madsen for this wonderful video featuring two very determined Hawksbill Turtles.
Dive into Bunaken’s Biodiversity: Turtles, Hawksbills, and Greens
The most common species we can find within Bunaken National Park is the Green Turtle. These amazing creatures can grow up to 150 cm and weigh up to 395 kg, although the average size of an adult is just over 1 meter in length. We can also find numerous Hawksbill Turtles within the waters of the park. There are a few ways to tell the difference between the species:
- Green turtles are much larger. The average weight of an adult green turtle is 120kg, while the average weight of a hawksbill is 55kg
- Hawksbill turtles have a prominent hooked beak, similar to that of a hawk, while a green turtle has a shorter, more rounded beak
- Green turtles have a smooth oval shell with smooth edges, where as a hawksbill turtles shell has overlapping scales and jagged edges
Conservation Efforts: Protecting the Precious Turtles of Bunaken
Female turtles must reach the age of 40 years before they can even start laying eggs, and the mortality rate of the young hatchlings is high. Due to their extremely hard shells, turtles that made it through the first few years of life would life a long life virtually free of predation. Humans are the main threat to the survival of the sea turtles. The meat is considered a delicacy by many cultures around the world, as are the eggs. The shells of both hawksbill and green turtles are prized for their beauty and are often made into jewelry or other useless trinkets. Plastic bags floating in the water also pose a significant threat to turtles, as they may confuse them with jellyfish and consume them, blocking their digestive system.
Rare Sightings: Turtle Nesting on Siladen’s Beaches
We are very lucky to be able to snorkel and dive with turtles, especially the sheer amount that we see here. All 8 species of marine turtle worldwide are considered to be endangered, and the hawksbill is actually considered a critically endangered species. Not only do we get a phenomenal amount within the park, are also lucky to have them nest here too!
Here at Siladen Resort & Spa, we are extremely lucky to regularly have turtles coming to lay eggs on our beaches, often even between guests’ bungalows! If you ever manage to witness this spectacle, it is important not to shine light on them or disturb them, or they may head back into the ocean. Once they begin laying eggs you can take a closer look, but be sure to never touch either the eggs or the turtle, or she may feel threatened and head back to water prematurely.