The Belize Barrier Reef | PONANT Magazine

An outstanding marine ecosystem

Home to extraordinary biodiversity, the Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it benefits from a unique protection policy.

Belize Barrier Reef

A rich and diverse ecosystem

In the depths of the Caribbean Sea, the diversity and turquoise waters of the Belize coral reef boast a captivating charm. There’s no two ways about it, with 1,400 documented species of flora and fauna, including 17 endangered species like the American crocodile, manatee and sea turtle, the reef is quite the draw for nature enthusiasts from around the world.

A famous Great Hole

More than half of the population of Belize (nearly 200,000 people) make a living from tourism linked to the barrier reef. Travellers flock to the Great Blue Hole, located 80 kilometres from the coast. 300 metres in diameter and 124 metres deep, this underwater cenote is a diver’s paradise. In 1971, French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau investigated the seabed of this unique site from aboard his ship the Calypso. He declared it one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world.

A highly protected zone

The top researchers in the world are fascinated by the beauty and diversity of the corals in Belize. In 1996, the barrier achieved recognition when it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, this listing does not protect it from the impacts of mass tourism and global warming. Fortunately, after being placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the government of Belize and the Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage, a coalition bringing together a host of organisations including WWF and Oceana, swung into action to protect it. Two years ago, a permanent moratorium was put on all oil exploration in Belize waters. Costa Rica and France are the only other countries to have taken this type of action.

In June 2018, UNESCO removed the reef from the List of World Heritage in Danger, proof of the positive impact of the work accomplished and the first win in this ecological and marine battle.

The tropical fish, sharks, turtles and mangroves to be seen in these waters now have a sustainable future. Seize the opportunity!


Belize with PONANT

Set sail for Belize, its idyllic beaches and wonderful barrier reef during a luxury cruise.

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