Mesoamerican Reef lies in the Caribbean Sea and gets to the coasts of Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and Belize. Stretching for more than 700 miles, the reef is the largest existing barrier reef that’s in the Western hemisphere; it stretches from the Northern tip of Yucatan Peninsula and gets down to the Honduran Bay islands.
Home to thousands of species
From its underwater wilderness you will get great dazzling arrays of unique types of corals which function as home and food to hundreds if not thousands of fish species, sharks as well as marine turtles. The shores are not left out either, they have the mangrove forests which are home to shorebirds and fish and have an addition function of protecting the coastal areas from massive damage that’s associated with strong storms and hurricanes.(image by Anh).
Mesoamerican is in danger
The fragile reef environment are facing danger posed by the scenic beauty which makes the reef to b a prime tourist destination, rich inland full of fertile soils that magnet large scale agriculture whose massive run off directly impacts the reef, increasing sea level as well as warmer temperatures that are attributed to climate change are also threatening the corals and marine life that includes turtles and the communities that directly depend on the reef as a source of livelihood for their food.
The reef has an underground water system
Apart from the famous white sand beaches , abundant marine life that’s composed of sharks, lobster and turtles there’s is a backbone for all this ecosystem, this is the Mexico Yucatan Peninsula little known unique water system which is underground and serves as an underground aquifer that balances the concentrations as well as the level of the entire reef.
Coastal karst system
The coastal karst system which is made of porous limestone bedrock are largely responsible of preventing the formation of above ground streams and rivers which would have actually lost a lot of its water to evaporation, this has proliferated the formation of underground connection of labyrinth rivers, sinkholes, sinks and streams. These streams involuntarily lead to the great reef and they are really handy as they supply rich soils as well as food for the planktons and the entire marine life.
Five turtle species thrive in the reef
The reef is home to seven unique marine species that are composed of turtles that grace the blue ocean waters, sea grass beds of the Indian Ocean, the colorful reefs of the great Coral Triangle and the sandy beaches of the Indian oceans. The reef is also home to some five types of turtles that are managed by the WWF, they range from the Olive ridley, leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill and the green turtle, make sure you see at least all these turtles before you leave the reef.
Turtles are in danger
Human activities have over tipped the survival scales of these great ancient mariners and today, almost all the turtle species are all endangered species. They are slaughtered for their meat, shells, skins, eggs and this has been proliferated b y the prevalence of poachers and over exploiters. The animals also face accident capture and habitat destruction by fishing gears, altered sand temperatures also affects the sex of hatchlings as well as nestling sites.(image by Akumal Dive Shop).
The reef is also the home to the whale shark which happens to be the largest shark in the whole world. His is attributed to the numerous planktons that thrive on the reef and this makes the reef a prime tourist attraction site.
Home to Tunas
Tunas are also found in their plenty’s, tunas are also known as the Ferraris of the ocean owing to their sleek and powerful bodies that were made for speeds. They have a distinct torpedo shape which streamline their movement in water and with the help of their muscles, they can cruise the oceans at great efficiencies.
Make sure you get to Mesoamerican reef and witness the beauties of these islands, you will also love to see the turtle, tuna and shark species in their hundreds or thousands before some of them really become extinct.
Feature image Chuck Smith