The Belize Barrier Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, in the world. The Belize Barrier Reef runs the length of this Central American nation, 185 miles.
The reef wall is formed by numerous colonies of living, breathing invertebrates, coral polyps. The various species of coral that form the reef are carnivorous tube-shaped polyps that live within a hard, protective skeleton formed by excreting calcium carbonite. The various colors and formations of these layers of calcium carbonite, called corallites, are the inspiration behind the various species names such as elkhorn, brain, large star, finger and plate corals.
Sea Turtles and other marine life inhabit the barrier reef off the coast of Belize. This is the second largest barrier reef in the world.
Coral polyps feed on small floating organic matter at night. During the day, the polyp tentacles reside within the protective hard corallite skeleton, but at night, using the current and stinging properties of their tentacles, the polyps feed on minute organic matter swept in from the ocean or mainland rivers and creeks.
The reef is a remarkably diverse and balanced ecosystem. Living among the coral skeletons are blue algae, which, through photosynthesis, produce the oxygen the polyps need to breathe. In turn, the carbon dioxide waste produced by the polyps is absorbed and processed by the blue algae. The reef cannot survive without this vital symbiotic relationship.
The reef is home and host to hundreds of species of fish, shell fish, anemones, lobster, octopus, and other sea creatures. Its unique beauty and complexity is truly a wonder of the world. Don’t miss an opportunity to experience it for yourself!
Original Article: http://www.elpescador.com/belize/barrier-reef
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