Belize Barrier Reef

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The Belize Barrier Reef is included in the Mesoamerican Reef System, which stretches from the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula to Honduras and Guatemala. It is located in the Caribbean Sea in the Mesoamerican region in Central America. It has a latitude of 16° 50' 10.5" N and a longitude of 88° 1' 0" W. The Barrier reef is approximately 300 kilometres and consists of boundless geographic features including barrier reefs, fringing reefs, sand and mangrove cays, estuaries and lagoons. However, the focus of this report is on the Barrier reef. Numerous institutes including national monuments, national parks and marine reserves has been established within the area in order to preserve the Barrier reef’s features. There are 70 hard coral species, 36 soft…show more content…
Corals are mainly built by the polyps that secrete an exoskeleton of the aragonite’s calcium carbonate. The barrier reef begins when a polyp attaches itself to a rock, then divides into many polyps, forming a colony. Each polyp forms a limestone around itself, using calcium from the water. This foundation remains after the polyp has died, which creates a foundation for another polyp to expand upon. When these limestone formations increases, a coral reef is formed. Wave action continues the functioning of the reef as it builds-up the skeletal substances, breaks them apart and piles them up. Furthermore, waves bring in nutrients, oxygen, and food into the reef and prevents sediments from sinking onto the reef. Grazing fish, sponges, sea urchins and other organisms break down the coral skeletons into substances that fills the empty spaces within the reef. Bioeroders also contributes to the formation and the continued functioning of the coral reef as it supports the living corals and a variety of marine plants and…show more content…
Sedimentation occurs when land sediments including soil, and sand enter the ocean, creating murky waters. Wind and rain carries sediments into the ocean. Rainwater flows into rivers and eventually leads into the ocean. This is known to be runoff. The run-off is more significant in areas where the reef is closer to the larger cayes in Belize since humans reside in those areas (Gonzalez, 2004). Human activities such as clearing land to build developments, plantations, and dredging along the coast causes sedimentation. In turn, waves alongside currents carry these sediments into the coral reef. When sediments cover the coral reef, sunlight is unable to reach the algae in the polyps. Which in turn, will make the corals unable to reproduce. Water pollution is an ominous threat to the Belize coral reef. Pesticides, fertilisers, petroleum products and detergents used in farms ends up in the reef, producing an abundant amount of algae, which blocks the sunlight from reaching the polyps. Overfishing also causes a detrimental impact on the reef as there is less fish to eat the algae growing on the reef, alongside provide food for other marine animals. Global warming causes the water temperature to rise which causes the zooxanthellae (algae inside coral polyps) to lose their vibrant colours. This is known to be coral bleaching, creating unhealthy corals which affects

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