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Belize Barrier Reef

Belize Barrier Reef
Belize Barrier Reef
It's one thing to visit it.  It's another to understand the amazing aspect of the Belize Barrier Reef that might easily be named one of the Great Wonders of the World if a modern day-day list was compiled. Test your knowledge.  See how many of these facts associated with Belize's Barrier Reef you already knew.  And don't be afraid to pass along some of the things you learn next time you have an opportunity to show off Central American geography acumen.
1. The Belize Barrier Reef was honored with a world record when it was designated as a World Heritage Site back in 1996.  Since that time, the reserve system that is at the heart of this impressive designation has been protected thanks to government intervention that assures the preservation of this reef for generations to come.
2. The Belize Barrier Reef is the nation's number one tourist attraction, luring visitors from all over the world who are eager to explore this 600-by-300 kilometer section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.  Visitors, scientists, students and tourists explore reef topography for scientific and photographic purposes, but it's the underworld portion of the reef that draws an untold number of divers and snorkelers year-round.
3. Mankind can learn a thing or two about diversity and harmony by using the Belzie Barrier Reef as a model.  Hundreds of exotic invertebrates, 500 types of fish, 70 hard coral species and 36 soft coral species all manage to get along nicely despite crowding and biological imperatives that might cause rivalry amoung such a diverse playground elsewhere on the planet.
4. Despite the fact that the Belize Barrier Reef is the object of countless studies, articles, and other scholarly publications, you may be shocked to learn that thus far, only 10-percent of the reef itself - and the species that make the reef their home - have actually been investigated.  For that reason alone, there are plenty of secrets yet to be revealed in the future when marine biologists get around to further exploration.
5. The Belize Barrier Reef has been referred to as a "rainforest of the sea" when compared to the biodiversity found in typical rainforest on land.  Reefs shelter and nurture 25-percent of all marine species on earth, yet if all the barrier reefs on the palnet were merged together, they would still only occupy territory that's half the size of France!
6. Belize Reef tourism has become on of the most important industries in Belize's history, generating $75 million USD per year back in 1994 when tourism haven't even begun to be seen as a major economic factor.  Divers visiting Belize specifically to spend time at the reef have majorly boosted all aspects of the nation's resort, restaurants and associated commercial interest - and even contributed to the nation's real estate boom.
7. There are no shortage of celebrities who have introduced the world to Belize's Barrier Reef.  The first was the intrepid Charles Darwin who brought home news of "the most remarkable barrier reef in the West Indies" back in 1842.  During the 20th Century, one of the biggest friends of the Barrier Reef was the famous French diver, Jacques Costeau. His books, documentaries and reserach are required reading for serious divers.  
8. Without the exoistence of the Belize Barrier Reef, Belize's fishing industry might not have attained premier status over time.  Many species of fish graze at the reef, as do sea urchins and sponges, and for other species of fish who might be subject to more battering by violent Atlantic Ocean storms and waves, the reef serves as an important protector and barrier.  
9. Belize has undertaken Herculean measures to make sure the reef is perpetually subject to in situ conservation efforts.  The most ambitious is the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, encompassing seven marine reserves, three atolls, and 450 islands.  Included within this reserve are Glover's Reef, the Great Blue Hole, Half-Moon Caye Natural Monument, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and these cayes: Ambergris, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, St. George's, English, Rendezvous, Gladden, Ranguana, Long, Maho, Blackbird and Three Coner.  
10. Every inch of the Belize Barrier Reef was once alive!  This startling fact is traced to the biology of animal colonies and coral that thrive in the ocean before they die, leaving skeletal remains and floatsam behind.  Stony corals consist of polyps that secrete calcium carbonate, thus layer upon layer of excretions and skeletal remains from the reef.  At this point, the suface is perpetually refined by waves and bio-erosion, which gives the reef its pock-marked appearance.
11. Contrary to some theories that coral reef like the Belize Barrier Reef are best formed on deep ocean floors, in fact, these reef require shallow, sunny, turbid, clear water to become established and grow. The reef looks impenetrable and rock solid due to centuries of build-up of marine creature skeletal remains, excretion and petrified plants, but despite this rugged appearance, coral reefs are actually fragile and susceptible to destruction by climate change, too much acidity in ocean waters and overly-aggressive fishing practices.  
12. The Belzie Barrier Reef is less than 10,000 years old!  It wasn't formed until after the last global ice sheet melted, causing a rise in sea levels and flooding continental plains.  By the time Maya forefathers migrated over the Bering Straits and down North America to the area we now call Belize, the reef was sufficiently formed to contribute dramatically to the success of Maya fishing practices.  Should ocean rise again and cover the reef's surface so deeply sunlight can't reach the reef, this magnificent natural barrier could disappear forever.  
Great Blue Hole | A Top Scuba Diving Spot on the Belize Barrier Reef
blue hole belize
Known for centuries by local fishermen, the Blue Hole of Belize gained international attention in 1971 when legendary French explorer Jacques Cousteau declared it to be one of the best dive sites on the planet on his television showThe Undersea World. Formed over 10,000 years ago by rising waters of the Ice Age, the Blue Hole is one of the most legendary dive sites on the planet.

Today, the Blue Hole, also sometimes known as the Belize Blue Hole, is a protected natural monument. Lying approximately 55 miles offshore of northern Belize, the Blue Hole is an almost perfectly circular body of dark blue water in the middle of Lighthouse Reef. The Blue Hole measures some 1,000 feet across and 450 feet deep and is easily visible from outer space.

In an earlier geological age, there was a large series of caves on dry land where the Blue Hole now exists. As the climate changed and global sea waters rose, the caves were submerged. Today, divers can explore a fascinating labyrinth of stone columns, enormous stalactites, and twisting passages that have remained intact for thousands of years.

As the waters rose, a ring of coral began to form, which became the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. The shallow waters around the atoll are also popular with divers, but it is the unique attractions of the Blue Hole that has made this site world famous. Unlike other dive sites in Belize which are primarily shallow water "color" dives teeming with fish and other marine life, the depths of the Blue Hole are murky and only the occasional hammerhead shark can be seen. The appeal for seasoned divers is the unearthly gothic atmosphere and the ability to explore such a large underground labyrinth of cave passages.

Due to the depths of the Blue Hole of Belize and the challenging underwater environment, only experienced divers are allowed to dive in this area. There are three permanent buoys located within the Blue Hole to use for mooring purposes, and all visitors are required to notify Half Moon Caye park rangers before entering the area.

If you are ready to book your Barrier Reef vacation, dive the Blue Hole of Belize or plan any of the other fabulous dive sites on the reef, book your excursion with the Belize Boutique Resort and Spa. Located on a pristine, 1000-acre property in northern Belize, the resort has just 16 luxuriously appointed villas and suites.

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Belize Boutique Resort & Spa Music Written by MELONIE GILLETTWritten for Belize Boutique Resort & Spa by Singer/Songwriter MELONIE GILLETT
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