YOU KNOW THAT THE SECOND LONGEST CORAL REEF IN THE WORLD IS IN THE CARIBBEAN
This coral reef has an extension of 1,000 km and is known as the Mayan or Mesoamerican Reef. It crosses the Caribbean from Holbox Island, through all the Yucatan Peninsula, and ends in Honduras, in the Bay Islands. The Mexican extension is about 300 km, while the Australian barrier reef, the longest in the world, reaches a length of 2,500 km.
WHAT IS A CORAL REEF?
Although reefs represent only 1% of the ocean surface, they are responsible for the survival of many marine species, up to 25%. So their preservation is vital for marine flora and fauna. Even if they look like simple rocks, reefs are ecosystems made up of marine organisms, plants and animals.
Corals grow in shallow waters where sunlight penetrates easily to produce photosynthesis. However, the development process is very slow, they reproduce asexually and take more than 1,000 years to present a significant structure. That is why it grows only 1 to 25 cm vertically, and 1 to 3 cm horizontally per year.
Functions of a coral reef:
- Protect coastlines from erosion, hurricanes and storms.
- Provide life to many species.
- Promote the development of vegetation, mangroves and dunes.
THE MAYAN REEF IN THE CARIBBEAN
This barrier reef stands out because it reaches great depths due to the Caribbean clear waters that allow sunlight to pass through. Also in Yucatan Mexico, we can find more than 500 species of fish, several sea turtles, manatees and sharks. Among them the largest fish in the world, the whale shark, which can be observed from May to August, and the bull shark can be found from November to March.
In the Mayan Reef we find 65 types of coral, elkhorn, black, acropora, brain coral, 350 species of mollusks and different types of crustaceans. You can learn more about the species here.
We must protect the reefs as they are fragile systems, and are endangered by climate change, overfishing, pollution and ocean acidification. The Mesoamerican Reef is one of the main highlights in the Riviera Maya that attracts thousands of tourists for diving and snorkeling every year. For these reason is protected by the National Commission of Protected Areas of Mexico (CONANP) and under international protection agreements.
Likewise, the state of Quintana Roo is developing a coral reproduction and planting project in the Mexican Caribbean.