The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS), also popularly known as the Great Mayan Reef or Great Maya Reef, is a marine region that stretches over 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from Isla Contoy at the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula down to Belize, Guatemala and the Bay Islands of Honduras. The reef system includes various protected areas and parks including the Belize Barrier Reef, Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, Hol Chan Marine Reserve (Belize), Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve, and the Cayos Cochinos Marine Park. Belize's coastline, including the Belize Barrier Reef, is home to approximately 30% of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.
The reef system extends along the coast of four countries: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. It begins near Isla Contoy on the northern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula and continues south alongside the Riviera Maya including areas like Cozumel and Banco Chinchorro. It then continues south down the eastern coast of Belize including many cayes and atolls. It extends to the north-east corner of Honduras.
The reef system is home to more than 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk and more than 500 species of fish.There are numerous species that live in or around the reef system that are endangered or under some degree of protection, including the following: sea turtles (green sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, leatherback turtle, and the hawksbill turtle), the queen conch, the West Indian manatee, the splendid toadfish, the American crocodile, the Morelet's crocodile, the Nassau grouper, elkhorn coral, and black coral.
The reef system is currently suffering an invasion by the red lionfish (Pterois volitans and Pterois miles), which is native to the Indo-Pacific region. Lionfish severely damage the reef ecosystem by eating nearly every reef-tending species, such as cleaner shrimp and other species that eat algae. These animals keep the corals clean, alive, and disease-free. Lionfish eat up to 90% of the reef-tending species in a given area within just a few months, which can result in a quick death for a reef. Valuable commercial species, such as lobster, are being negatively affected by the spread of the lionfish due to the enormous appetite of the invasive lionfish.[ citation needed ]
The reef system is home to one of the world's largest populations of manatees, with an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 of them.
Some northern areas of the reef system near Isla Contoy are home to the largest fish on the planet, the whale shark.The normally solitary whale sharks congregate there in social groups to eat and to mate.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is considered critically endangered according to the criteria of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems.
Belize is a Caribbean country located on the northeastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered on the northwest by Mexico, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by Guatemala. It has an area of 22,970 square kilometres (8,867 sq mi) and a population of 408,487 (2019). Its mainland is about 290 km (180 mi) long and 110 km (68 mi) wide. It has the lowest population and population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
The Caribbean Sea is an American Mediterranean Sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.
Cozumel is an island and municipality in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen. It is separated from the mainland by Cozumel Channel and is close to the Yucatán Channel. The municipality is part of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.
The Coral Sea is a marginal sea of the South Pacific off the northeast coast of Australia, and classified as an interim Australian bioregion. The Coral Sea extends 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) down the Australian northeast coast. The sea was the location for the Battle of the Coral Sea, a major confrontation during World War II between the navies of the Empire of Japan, and the United States and Australia.
The Gulf or Bay of Honduras is a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea, indenting the coasts of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. From north to south, it runs for approximately 200 km from Dangriga, Belize, to La Ceiba, Honduras.
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a U.S. National Marine Sanctuary in the Florida Keys. It includes the Florida Reef, the only barrier coral reef in North America and the third-largest coral barrier reef in the world. It also has extensive mangrove forest and seagrass fields. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, designated in 1990, is the ninth national marine sanctuary to be established in a system that comprises 13 sanctuaries and two marine national monuments.The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects approximately 2,900 square nautical miles of coastal and ocean waters from the estuarine waters of south Florida along the Florida Keys archipelago, encompassing more than 1,700 islands, out to the Dry Tortugas National Park, reaching into the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
The red lionfish is a venomous coral reef fish in the family Scorpaenidae, order Scorpaeniformes. P. volitans is native to the Indo-Pacific region, but has become an invasive species in the Caribbean Sea, as well as along the East Coast of the United States and East Mediterranean. This and a similar species, Pterois miles, have both been deemed invasive species. Red lionfish are clad in white stripes alternated with red/maroon/brown stripes. Adults in this species can grow as large as 47 cm (18.5 in) in length, making it one of the largest species of lionfish in the ocean, while juveniles are typically shorter than 1 inch (2.5 cm). The average red lionfish lives around 10 years. As with many species within the family Scopaenidae, it has large, venomous spines that protrude from the body, similar to a mane, giving it the common name lionfish. The venomous spines make the fish inedible or deter most potential predators. Lionfish reproduce monthly and are able to quickly disperse during their larval stage for expansion of their invasive region. No definitive predators of the lionfish are known, and many organizations are promoting the harvest and consumption of lionfish in efforts to prevent further increases in the already high population densities.
A barrier reef is a type of coral reef formed offshore. It may also refer to:
Monkey River is a coastal watercourse in southern Belize that rises in the Maya Mountains and discharges to the Caribbean Sea near Monkey River Town. One of Belize's major rivers, Monkey River has northern headwaters which originate in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, where the Swasey Branch drains the East Basin of that wildlife sanctuary. Further south, the Bladen Branch watercourse drains the eastern slopes of the Maya Mountains including the ancient Mayan settlement areas of Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit. These two watercourses join to form the Monkey River approximately 16 kilometres upstream from the mouth of the Monkey River. The Monkey River is readily navigated throughout the year using small boats, but navigation above the major confluence becomes more difficult due to lack of depth when the dry season starts about February. Habitats in this watershed provide cover for such diverse species as the ocelot, jaguar, Guatemalan black howler, bare-throated tiger heron, Morelet's crocodile, fer-de-lance and manatee.
The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 meters (980 ft) offshore in the north and 40 kilometers (25 mi) in the south within the country limits. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300-kilometer (190 mi) long section of the 900-kilometer (560 mi) Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the north-eastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya and down to Honduras, making it the second largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is Belize's top tourist destination, popular for scuba diving and snorkeling and attracting almost half of its 260,000 visitors. It is also vital to the country's fishing industry.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a marine reserve close to Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, off the coast of Belize. It covers approximately 18 km² (4,448 acres) of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forest. Hol Chan is Mayan for "little channel".
Since declaring independence in 1981, Belize has enacted many environmental protection laws aimed at the preservation of the country's natural and cultural heritage, as well as its wealth of natural resources. These acts have established a number of different types of protected areas, with each category having its own set of regulations dictating public access, resource extraction, land use and ownership.
Wild Caribbean is a four-part BBC nature documentary series exploring the natural and cultural history of the Caribbean Islands and Sea. It was first transmitted in the UK on BBC Two in January 2007. The series was produced by the BBC Natural History Unit and narrated by actor Steve Toussaint. This series also aired in Australia on ABC1 each Sunday at 7:30pm from 15 February 2009.
The red grouper is a species of fish in the Family Serranidae. The red grouper's typical range is coastal areas in the western Atlantic, stretching from southern Brazil to North Carolina in the US and including the Gulf of Mexico. This demersal, largely sedentary species has an extended pelagic larval stage before it settles in shallow coastal hardbottom habitat as juveniles. They remain in inshore waters for 4–5 years before migrating to offshore hardbottom habitat—particularly on the edge of the continental self—as adults. Spawning occurs offshore between January and June, peaking in May. While primarily eating benthic invertebrates, the red grouper is an opportunistic feeder in the reef community. The diet commonly includes xanthid and portunid crabs, juvenile spiny lobster, and snapping shrimp, with the occasional fish. The red grouper is of moderate size, about 125 cm and weighs 23 kg or more. Body coloration is typically reddish-brown in color often, with many white spots. When aggravated or involved in spawning activities, these fish can very rapidly change coloration patterns, with the head or other parts of the body turning completely white, and the white spots appearing more intense.
Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve (BCNPMR) is a protected area and UNESCO World Heritage Site on the northern part of Ambergris Caye in Belize.
Teluk Cenderawasih National Park is the largest marine national park of Indonesia, located in Cenderawasih Bay, south-east of Bird's Head Peninsula. It includes the islands of Mioswaar, Nusrowi, Roon, Rumberpon and Yoop. The park protects a rich marine ecosystem, with over 150 recorded coral species, for which it is considered a potential World Heritage Site.
The Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park is off the coast of the island of Cozumel in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The Cozumel reef system is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest coral reef system in the world. Even though almost the entire island of Cozumel is surrounded by coral reefs, the park only encompasses the reefs on the south side of the island. It begins just south of the International Pier and continues down and around Punta Sur and up just a small portion of the east side of the island. The park contains both shallow and mesophotic coral reefs and extends to the 100 m depth isobar.
Turneffe Atoll is located southeast of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, off the coast of Belize in Central America, 20 miles from Belize City. It is one of three atolls of the Belize Barrier Reef, along with Glover's Reef and Lighthouse Reef. It is approximately 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, making it the largest coral atoll in Belize and in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. The atoll was officially declared a marine reserve on November 22, 2012.
Pterois is a genus of venomous marine fish, commonly known as lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific. Also called zebrafish, firefish, turkeyfish, tastyfish or butterfly-cod, it is characterized by conspicuous warning coloration with red, white, creamy, or black bands, showy pectoral fins, and venomous spiky fin rays. Pterois radiata, Pterois volitans, and Pterois miles are the most commonly studied species in the genus. Pterois species are popular aquarium fish. P. volitans and P. miles are recent and significant invasive species in the west Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Mediterranean Sea.
Eilat's Coral World Underwater Observatory is a public aquarium, park and conservation center located in Eilat, Israel. It is the biggest public aquarium in Israel, and it hosts over 800 species. It was founded in 1974 and was the first of its kind. The park and aquarium is located to the south of Eilat's Coral Beach nature reserve.
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