In 1971, divers everywhere took spear guns into the water with them. While other islands in the Indo-Pacific, Red Sea and Las Aves continue to collect live coral from their reefs to sell as 'souvenirs', in 1975, Bonaire made it illegal to break coral, take it away or sell it. The government of Bonaire decided to create Bonaire Marine Park, a logical step. The Bonaire Marine Park extends from the high water mark to 60 m (200 ft.) depth contour around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire ('Small Bonaire') of about 270 hectares.
More than 70 public moorings are protecting coral against dropped anchors. The staff of Bonaire Marine Park spends time to enlighten park visitors. Brochures are available at the airport, in hotels, dive schools and around town. There is a special youth club of Bonaire Marine Park where children learn how to protect the reef. Some hotels and resorts can show you slide-shows and films about life under water.
You can be proud having a Nature Fee. The money you pay goes straight to the Bonaire Marine Park for research, provide information and protection of the marine environment. Even if you are not a diver, you can still contribute by paying the admission fee. You can help some ways:
- Spear fishing is completely prohibited.
- Do not take anything out of the water (except garbage).
- Do not make contact with coral; do not sit, stand or hold on to coral.
- Do not place dead pieces of coral rubble on top of living colonies as they can cause the corals to die. Many divers use these markers for navigation.
- Divers, make sure you are neutrally buoyant and do not use gloves!
- Do not take coral or shells away.
- Take your used batteries back home. Bonaire does not have any facility to recycle.
- Turtles are internationally protected. Do not buy shells or other turtle-products. You can call yourself lucky if you have seen a turtle.
- Keep Bonaire clean. Bonaire is a clean island and they want to keep it clean.
Take only pictures, leave only bubbles.