Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

The MesoAmerican Barrier Reef is the second longest barrier reef in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's eastern coast and is the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere. The reef system includes many protected areas and parks including the Belize Barrier Reef, Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve, and the Cayos Cochinos Marine Park.

The reef system extends along the coast of four countries and includes several offshore islands

Regions

Other destinations

Understand

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) is also known as the Mesoamerican reef and often abbreviated MAR. It is composed of a string of barrier and fringing reefs, atolls and patch corals, lagoons, sea grass beds and mangrove stretching over 1,000 km (620 ml) from Isla Contoy at the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, through the barrier reefs of Belize and Guatemala and then down to 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, Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve, and the Cayos Cochinos Marine Park.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef structure is the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest barrier reef in the world. The reef ecosystem provides a habitat for countless marine species and is a vital natural resource for coastal communities throughout the region. The reef supports major fisheries and local food supplies, provides coastal protection from storms, and supports a robust and growing marine tourism industry.

The reef system is home to more than 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk and more than 500 species of fish. The reef is home to numerous endangered and protected species, including the sea turtles (Green 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 home to estimated 1,000-1,500 manatees, one of the worlds largest population of these creatures. Some northern areas of the reef system near Isla Contoy are home to the Whale shark, the largest fish on the planet. These normally solitary fish congregate there in social groups to eat and to mate.

In the recent past initiatives such as the Coral Friendly Guidelines for Tourists have identified divers, snorkelers and other coral reef visitors as some of the strongest and most effective advocates for coral reef conservation. The previous ICRAN Mesoamerican Reef Alliance (MAR) project that drew to a close in 2007 was an example of a collaborative effort aimed at confronting the decline of the Mesoamerican coral reef ecosystem by improving economic and environmental sustainability through capacity building activities, the development of better practices, and building of partnerships with the private sector. In July 2006 voluntary standards were unanimously approved across the 4 countries of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System and included marine tour operator associations, park managers and conservation NGOs, the cruise ship industry, scientists, and concerned divers. The program was the world's first adoption of voluntary sustainable tourism environmental performance standards for reef marine recreation providers. Participants have agreed to adopt conservation process and marine tourism environmental business practices supporting conservation, sustainability and effectively managed marine parks. Visitors to the region may prefer to use providers who have adopted the voluntary standards in their business activities upon the reef.

Talk

Espanol (Spanish)

Get in

By plane

By ship

Many cruise lines provide operate into the is area.

Dive operators travel to the reef from the 4 nations that border the reef system.

Get around

The region has domestic air links supplied by many regional carriers.

See

This region is one of the world's most significant aquatic areas, there is a lot to see including national parks and aquatic reserves.

Do

Eat

Please see the individual destination articles for details.

Drink

Please see the individual destination articles for details.

Stay safe

Conditions throughout the area have many variables and there are no universally applicable guidelines for the region. Please see the individual destination articles for details.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, January 18, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.