The Belize Barrier Reef is often rearmed to be the greatest reef of the West Indies. The Reef came into the public eye when Sir Charles Darwin went to this region in the year 1842 to conduct his studies and experiments on the growth and evolution of coral reefs. The statement made by Darwin led to a lot of interest amongst the people. More studies led to the realization that the Belize Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. With a distance covering more than two hundred and sixty kilometers, the Belize Barrier Reef is colossal as it stretches from the northern border of the country, a region seeing it only a kilometer from offshore and extending southwards all the way to the the Sapodilla Cays that are at a distance of some forty kilometers from the shore.
Belize is famous for possibly having one of the world’s most diverse reef ecosystems. The reef is replete with most of the main important types and groups of reefs known to man. All along the mainland coast, one finds different fringing reefs. Along the edge of the continental shelf, one comes face to face with the Barrier Reef over here. It is distinguished from the mainland by a large lagoon There are also three offshore atolls over here called the Lighthouse Reef, Turneffe Atoll and the Glovers Reef. It would be wrong to say that the presence of atoll over here is absolutely normal. This is because a large number of atolls are located in the Pacific Ocean. These atolls in the ocean here are situated exactly on top of volcanoes that have now been submerged by the sea. Since the phenomenon of atolls in the Caribbean region is not one that is anticipated, it is considered ever rarer, and more precious.
Very few occur in the region and that is why it is surprising to see atolls over here. The atolls over here are much more different from the one in the Pacific Ocean. The shape and form differ because of the presence of non-volcanic submarine ridges.
The diversity that one finds in the region is what makes this place so supremely beautiful. This place is home to more species of marine animals than any other marine ecosystem elsewhere in the world. In terms of biodiversity, the only other place on Earth, which gives the Belize Barrier Reef competition, is the tropical rain forests of the Amazon River basin. The Belize Barrier Reef is a place to see no matter at what time of the day or the night. This is because it seems that all the marine life in the region having divided the reef in such a way that the reef is always being used by someone or the other. While some animals make use of the reef in the day time, a lot many species of fish and other marine life, being nocturnal, make use of the reef during the night. The reef is also a good place to see the different feeding patterns of a million fish. There more than a thousand species of fish one can find over here. In addition to that, the Belize Barrier Reef is also home to sixty five species of corals. There are also a large number of creatures belonging to species of crustaceans and sea anemones.
The reef is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There is no doubt that this place is being steadily degraded because of the effects of human exploitation. Steady steps have to be taken up if we want to preserve this super paradise on Earth.