Barrier Reef in Belize

The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef of its sort in the Northern and Western hemispheres, coming in second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. With the exception of Rocky Point, where it joins the beach, it maintains an offshore distance ranging from roughly 1,000 feet (300 meters) in the north to 25 miles (40 km) in the south along Belize’s Caribbean coast. The surrounding Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve (created in 1996), Blue Hole Natural Monument (1996), Half Moon Caye Natural Monument (1982), Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve (1993), South Water Caye Marine Reserve (1977), Laughing Bird Caye National Park (1991), and Sapodilla Marine Reserve all protect the 370 square miles (960 square kilometers) of land (1996).

The reef and its atolls, which include the sole coral atolls in the Western Hemisphere, are home to almost 450 mangrove cays and sandy islands of various sizes. The region is home to a number of unique and endangered animal species, including the American crocodile and the biggest population of West Indian manatees on earth. Along with more than 500 different fish species, 65 different species of stony corals (Scleractinia), and 350 different types of mollusks, the area is also home to sea turtles, red-footed boobies, and other seabirds. There are 247 different forms of marine flora below the water, including algae species, seagrass beds, and turtle and manatee habitats. There are about 178 plant species above the water.

The reef is a well-liked tourist destination because of its exceptional fauna and tropical environment, with typical temperatures ranging from 61 °F (16 °C) in the winter to 88 °F (31 °C) in the summer. Historically, its main draw was as a commercial and fishing port; The Maya used it for this purpose from roughly 300 BCE to 900 CE, and in the 17th century, Scottish and English pirates who had originally found refuge at the reef began to take advantage of its resources. The reef has been kept mainly open to watercraft due to its significance to the tourism and fishing sectors, despite being endangered by the effects of water sports, sightseeing boats (whose anchors break up parts of coral), and fishing. The reef is a significant source of seafood, particularly lobster and conch, which are exported in large quantities. Each year, between 100,000 and 150,000 visitors congregate near the snorkeling and diving hotspots of San Pedro, Caye Caulker, and Placencia. In 1996, the Belize Barrier Reef received the UNESCO World Heritage designation.

barrier reef

geology

Barrier reefs are coral reefs that run nearly parallel to shorelines and are separated from them by lagoons or other bodies of water. Multiple waterways that provide access to the lagoon and the island or continent be

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