Belize Barrier Reef

The Belize Barrier Reef is a chain of coral reefs stand with one leg on either side of the coast of Belize, approximately 300 meters offshore in the north and 40 kilometers in the south in the country limits. It is a 300-kilometer length segment of the 900-kilometer marine region, which is constant from Cancun through the Riviera Maya and up to Honduras, making it one of the largest around the world. It is tourist destination of Belize, for scuba diving and snorkeling attracting half of its 260,000 visitors. It is also very important to the country's fishing activity.

In 1842 English naturalist reported it as "the most remarkable reef in the West Indies"

Species

The main species in Belize Barrier Reef are:

  • 70 hard coral species
  • 36 soft coral species
  • 500 species of fish
  • Hundreds of invertebrate species

About 90% of the reef is still required to be researched and discovered only 10% of all species.

Environmental Protection

Belize completed ban bottom trawling in December 2010, which is the first country in the world.

The protected reefs by Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System are

  • Seven marine reserves
  • 450 cays
  • Three atolls

It totals 960 square kilometers in region, including:

  • Glover's Reef Marine Reserve
  • Great Blue Hole
  • South Water Caye Marine Reserve
  • Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
  • Hol Chan Marine Reserve
  • Cays include: Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, Carrie Bow Caye, St. George's Caye, English Caye, Rendezvous Caye, Gladden Caye, Ranguana Caye, Long Caye, Maho Caye, Blackbird Caye, Three Corner Caye, Northern Caye, Tobacco Caye, and Sandbore Caye.

In 1996 the Reserve System was chosen as a World Heritage Site due to its susceptibility. In spite of these protective measures, the reef is in danger from deep-sea pollution as well as

  • Unrestrained tourism
  • Shipping,
  • Fishing
  • Global warming

As a result increase in ocean temperatures causes coral bleaching. Scientists reported that since 1988, Belize's coral reef has been damaged around 40 percent. In 1995, the first mass bleaching happened.