Get to Know Bonaire’s Seaweeds

Caulerpa macrophysa, a common green algal species of Bonaire. This algae forms mats tightly attached to rocks and corals, often in the intertidal or shallow areas. Photo by: © Luna van der Loos (Ecosub)

Kralendijk – The 2019 Naturalis Biodiversity Center and ANEMOON Foundation expeditions worked, among other things, to catalog the wide variety of seaweeds off the coast of Bonaire. From this and previous reports, nearly 250 species were identified and the most common were highlighted in the “Common Seaweeds of Bonaire” ID cards, now available for free download from the Dutch Caribbean Biodiversity Database.

Seaweeds – important organisms

Seaweeds (also called marcoalgae) are mostly notorious as aggressive competitors for space that can overgrow reef corals. Seaweeds plays an important role in many coastal environments. Often overlooked, this underwater macroalgae is crucial for sustaining a healthy reef and fish population. Seaweed is important as it is a food source for a variety of animals, such as sea turtles, manatees and small crustaceans. Through photosynthesis, seaweed is also an important supplier of oxygen along with serving as a natural water filter, removing heavy metals (Neori et al., 1996). Due to their ability to filter water, they can also serve as a bioin-dicator for the health of an environment (Munda, 2003). In addition, seaweeds can provide important habitats and nursery grounds for many different species of fish and invertebrates (Okuda, 2008).


A collaborative effort was recently taken to document the various types of seaweed off the coast of Bonaire. During the Naturalis Biodiversity Center and ANEMOON Foundation expeditions hosted on Bonaire last October and November, seaweed species were identified and ID cards were created to serve as an educational tool for the island. This effort was funded by World Wildlife Fund (WWF-NL), the Treub Maatschappij and the Nature of the Netherlands program of Naturalis Biodiversity Center. STINAPA Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and Dive Friends dive shop pro-vided crucial logistic support and Luna van der Loos and Godfried van Moorsel (Ecosub) provided the photographs.

Seaweeds on Bonaire

Bonaire is home to over 250 different species of seaweed. These macroalgae can be found in a wide range of areas, from shallow reefs to deep within the mangrove forests. Nearly 60 of the most common species are featured on the “Common Seaweeds of Bonaire” ID Cards. These cards high-light the importance of each species and help users with their visual identification.

ID cards seaweeds

These macroalgae play a critical role in the marine ecosystem. Hopefully by making them easier to identify, ocean goers will gain a new appreciation and awareness for seaweed. The ID cards are available for download on the Dutch Caribbean Biodiversity Database (

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