Belize Barrier Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, the second-largest reef system in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 190-mile section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is comprised of seven protected areas: Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, Blue Hole Natural Monument, Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, South Water Caye Marine Reserve, Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, Laughing Bird Caye National Park, and Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. The Belize Barrier Reef has over four hundred cayes (islands) including the above and other noteworthy snorkeling and tourist destinations such as Ambergris, Caulker, Carrie Bow, and Ranguana Caye.
Within the cayes, atolls, mangroves, and lagoons of the Belize Barrier Reef are a variety of land and marine species. Conservation efforts work to protect species including the West Indian manatee, green turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead turtle, and the American crocodile. This complex reef system also hosts over 70 hard coral species, 36 soft coral species, 500 species of fish, and hundreds of invertebrate species.