The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.
As part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system, the Belize Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The entire coast of Belize, measuring some 180 miles, is adjacent to this magnificent reef system.
Coral reefs are not static structures but composed of living animals that breathe oxygen known as coral polyps. Coral polyps are carnivorous animals that protect their soft bodies by extruding a hard shell made of calcium carbonite. It is this hard exoskeleton that forms the body of a coral reef, identified by different shades of color. Officially, the hard skeleton is called corallite. The shape and type of different species of coral include plate, finger, large star, elkhorn and brain corals.
At nighttime, coral polyps emerge from their hard shell to consume tiny particles of organic material that the tides bring their way. Coral polyps have stinging tentacles that help bring in organic material. During the daytime, the coral polyps sleep and withdraw inside their hard corallite shell.
Thousands of marine species use the intricate structures of a coral reef to hide from prey, feed on prey, hatch their young, and shelter from storms and strong currents. One of the most important symbiotic elements to all coral reefs is blue algae, an ancient type of plant that latches onto corallite to gain access to the sun. Blue algae uses photosynthesis to convert sunlight into energy, with oxygen as a waste product. This oxygen then feeds the coral polyps, which discharge carbon dioxide.
Placencia is the springboard to some of the best diving in Belize, if not the world! Beneath the turquoise waters of Placencia, Belize is an underwater world that exceeds every other Caribbean dive destination in diversity, size and scope. Extending over 185 miles north to south, the Belize Barrier Reef system is the greatest stretch of coral in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest barrier reef in the world. The reef system encompasses wall drop-offs, pinnacles, spur and groove formations, swim-through and more. Read more…
You probably have been to an aquarium and have seen all those bright beautiful tropical fish. Well it is time to snorkel the Belize Barrier Reef and join them in their world! Enter the glorious waters of the Caribbean Sea. View the coral gardens and witness the myriad of rainbow colors found on the reef. Gently swim along with the trumpet fish, angelfish, damselfish, rays and beautiful parrotfish. Watch them dart in and out of the abundant and colorful coral reefs. Beginner or experienced, adult or child, everyone can enjoy snorkeling. Read more…