Bonaire National Marine Park - KLEIN BONAIRE - FAUNA
From the leeward side of Bonaire a small islet is visible. Its name is Klein Bonaire, which is Dutch for “little Bonaire”. The islet, which sits within the rough crescent formed by the main island, is 1,500 extremely flat acres (600 hectares). It’s only about half a mile from the closest points on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire. The distance is frequently traversed by private and commercial boats and can be crossed by hardy kayakers. The trip from Klein Bonaire to Bonaire is against the wind!.
Klein Bonaire is a popular destination for sail charters as well as for lunch or evening picnics. The primary attraction is SCUBA diving and snorkeling on the pristine coral reef surrounding the islet. There are 26 Bonaire National Marine Park diving moorings around Klein Bonaire, and one beach, making the reefs easily accessible.
The first look through your mask immediately reveals the wide underwater biodiversity of Klein Bonaire. Parrotfish, surgeonfish and (yellowtail) snappers patrol the many varieties of branching and boulder corals. The sponges, in colors from purple to deep red to orange to yellow, and in shapes including multiple tubes and irregular spheres, will attract your attention as well. It seems that the abundance of marine organisms in these waters is even greater than around the mainland of Bonaire. For a more detailed description of the underwater fauna of the Bonaire National Marine Park see the webpage of the Marine Park.
Klein Bonaire is frequented by large numbers of shore and water birds, including the endangered flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber), because of its undisturbed shorelines and almost 90 acres (roughly 36 hectares) of shallow salinas (‘hyper saline lakes’). Klein Bonaire is a wetland of international importance. The Ramsar convention recognized Klein Bonaire in May 1980 as one of the five Ramsar sites of Bonaire.
Klein Bonaire has been long identified as a valuable seabird habitat.
Breeding has been noted for the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) and Least Tern (Sterna albifrons). These species can tolerate very little in the way disturbance during breeding. These limitations play an important role in the management of the island of Klein Bonaire.
The presences of the critically endangered White-Tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus), the common Bare-eyed Pigeon (Columbo corensis) and the endangered Lora or Yellow-shouldered Parrot (Amazona barbadensis rothshildii) have also been recorded.
The last mentioned plays an important role in the pollination process on the islet. In total, 33 species of birds have been recorded on Klein Bonaire. (Ref. CARMABI)
Inventory of Klein Bonaire fauna species as of February 1997
Around sunrise, many bird species (e.g. Common Ground Dove (Columbigallina passerina) and Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata) bridge the distance between Bonaire and Klein Bonaire to spend the day looking for food. Both bird species feed mainly on seeds, but do eat some insects.
At sunset, the birds fly back to their roosting grounds on Bonaire, sometimes attacked by birds of prey. This spectacle can be viewed daily from the boulevard of Kralendijk or the terraces and beaches on the northwest side of the island of Bonaire.
The beaches of Klein Bonaire (especially the beaches of the north-western quadrant of the island, on and around “No Name” beach) support some of the most intensive sea turtle nesting activity in the Netherlands Antilles. They are a major conservation value to cherish. Both Hawksbill and Loggerhead sea turtles (respectively Eretmochelys imbrotica and Caretta caretta) use Klein Bonaire beaches for nesting. Each turtle deposits from 120 to 160 eggs per nest. The baby turtles hatch after two months, dig themselves out of the nest, and head for the sea. Hatchlings face many predators on land and in the sea, such as ghost crabs, fish and birds.
During a walk on Klein Bonaire ten different types of snails can be observed. Three species (Stoastomops walkeri, Tudora aurantia and Tudora maculate) are endemic to Bonaire while another four of the remaining seven are not found outside the ABC islands. Most of the land snails can be found between the low vegetation and shrub layers.
Freshwater snails can be observed in and around the freshwater wells on Klein Bonaire. The water quality of these wells is important for the snails to live in, of course, but also because the wells provide drinking water for birds and other Klein Bonaire residents.
During various biological inventories of Klein Bonaire (e.g. Wagenaar-Hummelinck) three species of terrestrial reptiles were found. The Spectacled Teju (Gymnodactylus antillensis) is endemic to the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao). The Anole Tree Lizard (Anolis bonairenis) lives only on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire, as does the Whiptail Lizard (Cnemidophorus murinus). None of these species can be ranked as rare in Bonaire.
In addition to the local Lora (Amazona barbadensis rothshildii) the bats (Chiroptera) on Klein Bonaire have an important role in pollinating plants on Bonaire. The bats spend their days hanging from the ‘ceilings’ of caves on Klein Bonaire; at dusk they fly out en masse. The number of individual bats has yet to be recorded.