The Belize Coral Reef is the second largest coral reef in the world. It is located next to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is 180 miles long and stretches for the entire length of Belize. It is considered the largest continuous reef system in the Western Atlantic. It is also the largest Coral Reef in the Northern and Western Hemispheres. It is off the shore by about 1000 feet, but touches the shore at Rocky Point. Inside the reef there is 6000 square kilometers of lagoon. Many islands are also found by the coral atolls. Coral atolls are the only atolls in the Western Hemisphere. The names of the three most popular atolls are Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef, and Glovers Reef. The reef is exposed to a lot of harsh waves, and these helps shape and transform the reef into a very pretty masterpiece. The reef is a home to a lot of animals including many rare and endangered species. The American Crocodile lives there along with the largest population of West Indian Manatees. A lot of sea birds and sea turtles house there also. There are178 plant species and 247 types of marine flora in the Belize Coral Reef. The coral reef stays at 61 degrees F. in the winter and 88 degrees F. in the summer. The reef is a very popular sight. It is used for diving, fishing, and sight-seeing. 63% of coral reefs are threatened by human activities. Sediments and sewage from agriculture and building plants affect 50% of the coral reefs. The fertilizers and sewage do provide nutrients though over-fishing of coral affect 35% of the coral. Many people want to buy the beautiful coral or pick it themselves and this causes the over-fishing. Coastal development affects 11%. This is the building of new buildings cruise ships also damage 8%. The ships anchors tear the coral and land on it causing it to break. Diving also kills the coral when the people stand on it or fall on it. Bleaching hardly ever occur. But white-band disease does kill when the disease gets to the coral. The Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute tries to help the coral be protected, but no funding is available. If you are looking for a vacation spot, try the Belize Coral Reefs.
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