Belize Barrier Reef

The Barrier reef of Belize is one of the most spectacular in the world, with it being the longest in the Western hemisphere and the second longest in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The whole reef is a staggering one hundred and eighty miles in length and the reef runs along Central America. The reef can be enjoyed in many ways; this includes diving in the great blue hole, fishing or just sight-seeing. Whatever you choose to do the experience will not leave you disappointed because the region is one of sheer beauty. The reef itself need two things to help it survive, it requires solar energy and chemical nutrients. Nutrients flow into the sea from plant and animals from nearby rivers and creeks, the nutrients are then broken down into chemical nutrients by bacteria and this enables the reef to thrive and grow.

The Barrier Reef of Belize

The Belize barrier reef has many features; these include barrier reefs, the great blue hole, fringing reefs, Mangrove cays, sand cays, lagoons and estuaries and this makes it even more so spectacular. The reef has a trio of coral atolls which are the Glovers reef, the Lighthouse reef, and the Turneffe Islands. The coral atolls are so special because they are so uncommon outside the Pacific Ocean and this is why the Belize government and people of Belize strive to conserve the Barrier reef of Belize.

One of the most amazing phenomenon’s in the Belize barrier reef is the great blue hole and this is truly a spectacular sight. Many people in Belize believed that the great blue hole should have been one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The barrier reef has been in the world heritage system since 1996 and in 2006 it was listed in the world heritage site of in- danger. The great blue hole is situated around sixty miles from the mainland and the rising of this great blue hole can be traced back a staggering 15,000 years to an early ice age. The great blue hole is a circular sinkhole in the limestone, inside the overall depth of the water is 410 feet deep and the circle is around a quarter of a mile. If you are visiting this barrier reef as a diver then this dive would be top of the list.

From 300 BCE to 900CE the Mayan community would fish in the reef and they traded near it. In 1842 Charles Darwin said it was the most remarkable reef in the West Indies, since this its popularity has grown, many people from all over the world visit it and will surely continue to do so. The lengths of unspoilt land are spectacular and although the reef is on the world heritage site in- danger list the government and people do much to conserve the Great Barrier Reef.

The barrier reef of Belize is home to many different plants and species and amazingly there are sixty different species of coral. There are in excess of five hundred species of fish and the reef is home to a plethora of spectacular sea life. These can include whale sharks, dolphins, seahorses, crabs, starfish, manatees, turtles and many species of birds; you may even see the American crocodile. The barrier reef is home to many endangered species so preserving these is very important. The spectacular whale shark can be seen but they are more likely to be spotted during their season which runs from April through to June; even then you may not see one as they tend to feed at night. Other shark species can be spotted and they include Nurse Sharks, Hammerheads and even Oceanic White Tip sharks.

The barrier reef of Belize and the great blue hole is such a popular tourist destination but unfortunately it is being affected by constant human visitation. The Coral life is hugely affected simply because people want to pick them which is prohibited or divers stand on them by accident. Environmental factors also play a part and scientists believe that due to the rise in water temperature the corals have experienced what is known as bleaching. This causes the corals to turn white and eventually the coral dies. Although this is still not clear the global climate does play a major factor in conservation on the barrier reef in Belize.