Yes, we are talking about the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest coral reef in the world. Diving into this plethora of biological diversity is a beautiful experience. Stick around to find out more about this fascinating ecosystem and how you can dive in it on your trip to Cancun or the surrounding areas.
The treasures of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System
Being the largest coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean, it must come as no surprise that it holds a significant biological diversity, as well as crucial importance to the wellbeing of various communities and ecosystems. This reef system is more than just a large group of corals huddled together, it is a nursery, a genetic library of species, it offers protection to our coastlines as well as generating our gorgeous white sand producer. It’s significance to humanity is such that it has been declared World Heritage for Mankind by the United Nations Organization for Education and Culture (UNESCO).
Scuba diving, in general, is an awesome adventure, but diving in the second largest coral reef in the world is a humbling privilege we are grateful to do. Keep reading to find out more about this precious area and how you can visit it.
Where is the second-largest barrier reef in the world?
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is also commonly known as the Great Mayan Reef due to its location. There are four country coasts along which the reef system extends, namely – Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. This marine region stretches from the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, down to Guatemala as well as the Bay Islands of Honduras, measuring in total a whopping over 1000 km.
Marine Life found in the Second Largest Coral Reef
The Mesoamerican reef is embellished with stony coral, more than 65 species of them and 350 species of mollusks, which include squid, cuttlefish, and octopus. Moreover, the reef also provides habitat to more than 500 species of fish.
Some of the protected species you might find are various types of sea turtles (such as the Green turtle, Leatherback turtle, Loggerhead Sea turtle, and the Hawksbill turtle), the West Indian Manatee, the Elkhorn coral, and the exotic black coral (which was used as jewelry in the ancient Mayan culture).
Other species aside from the ones mentioned earlier include:
The Queen Conch
This species is a large edible sea snail that is native to the area from Bermuda to Brazil. It reaches up to 35.2cm in shell length. This species is also a plant-eater and lives in seagrass beds.
Also known as coral toadfish, this species is native to the island of Cozumel and has distinctive patterning with bright yellowfins. Interestingly enough, this toadfish has a total of eight fins.
The Nassau grouper is a medium to large fish, growing to over a meter in length and up to 25 kg in weight. It has a thick body and largemouth, which it uses to ‘inhale’ prey.
The largest of the fish species, the Whale Sharks, is a slow-moving filter feeding shark. The largest noted (confirmed) shark weighed more than 47000 pounds and was 41.50 feet.
Scuba dive in the second-largest coral reef with Aquaworld Tours
The Cozumel area is famous for Cozumel diving and its diverse marine life includes turtles, sea horses, fire coral, and many more fascinating species. Diving and snorkeling tours are also provided for drivers where there is wreck-diving and reef-diving.
Another major tour is the one that features the Cancun Underwater Museum, also known as MUSA, which is one of the major landmarks that attract scuba divers and snorkelers.
It includes works from famous artists such as sculptures by Jason DeCaires, a British artist known for his publications and documentaries, some of which are in the USA Today and The Guardian.
Other tours you could take from Cozumel and Cancun to snorkel or dive in this amazing coral reef include Discover Scuba or Snorkel in Isla Mujeres, among many other activities and tours Aquaworld has to offer.