ATTENTION WORLD: Belize Saves Their Coral Reef
Faces - The Magazine of People, Places and Cultures for Kids|January 2021
Sea turtles float in clear waters, colorful corals hug the ocean floor, and aquatic animals glide among the mangrove roots. Welcome to the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, the second-largest coral reef in the world (Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is number one). Several years ago, this reef was in crisis, heading toward destruction. But the people of Belize fought back to save their reef’s health.
Colette Weil Parrinello

About the Belize Barrier Reef System

The Mesoamerican Reef stretches 700 miles, from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula through Guatemala to Honduras’ Bay Islands. For 185 miles, the reef passes through the Belizean water. Lagoons and atolls are on either side of the main reef and together are called the “Belize Barrier Reef System.” The reef supports more than half of Belize’s population through tourism, coastal activities, real estate, and fishing.

The Damage

Hurricanes, tropical storms, unchecked oil exploration, ocean warming, overfishing, rising sea level, pollution, and uncontrolled coastal and hotel development all drove the reef into coastal deterioration and severe coral damage and bleaching.

Much of the coast is three feet above sea level and suffers frequent flooding that erodes the coastline. Mangrove forests were being cleared and replaced with sand and coral rubble from nearby waters, destroying coral and seabeds.

The coral damage was so severe that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) put the reef on its list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.

Belize Takes Action

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