It is 15 years ago and still I remember it as if it had been this morning. My first dive in the ocean – a submersion into a fairy-tale world of flabbergasting colours, corals of all shapes and forms, fish I hadn’t even found in the Aquarium and that time-less beauty of weightlessness. In total connection with my breath, I have blissfully floated through many a world’s best diving sites since, from shallow to up to 30 metres. Let me share some of my favourites with you.
No diving bucket list would be complete without the famous great blue hole in Central America’s Belize. The circular 300 metres wide and 125 metres deep submarine sinkhole is part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is outlined by coral reef and inhabited by Caribbean Reef Sharks and the occasional Hammerhead.
Sites on Unesco’s list of World Heritage in danger include Liverpool, The Everglades, and a slew of ancient Middle Eastern cities.
The good folk at Unesco will convene next month to decide which attractions will be added to its ever-growing list of World Heritage Sites \u2013 and which, if any, will be placed on its danger list. All eyes are on Venice, amid the ongoing row over cruise ship tourism.
There are already 55 sites in danger, according to Unesco. Here are some of the most notable.
Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System
At risk since 2009
What Unesco says: “The system provides important habitat for a number of threatened marine species, harbouring a number of species of conservation concern including the West Indian manatee, green turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead turtle, and the American crocodile as well as endemic and migratory birds.
The state of Belize’s Barrier Reef System continues to be poor and for another consecutive year it will remain on the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s ‘in danger list.’ The Belizean reef system has been on this list since 2009 and every year in March, the Government submits a status report to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Committee for review. The committee’s report was delivered on Friday, June 9th, stating that more needs to be done for its removal from this vulnerable category.
The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and the largest in the western hemisphere. It runs parallel to the coast of Belize for about 185 miles, providing around 15% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Many coastal communities depend heavily on the barrier reef for their daily survival, with tourism being one of the main activities.
The Belize Barrier Reef System will remain on the UNESCO world heritage site ‘in danger list.’ It has been on this list for eight years and in March of this year, Belize submitted its status report to the UNESCO World Heritage Site committee for review. The Committee has since given a draft decision that Belize remains on that list. An official statement will be given when the committee meets next month in Poland. So, for now, Belize remains ‘ in danger’ and only gets one chance every year to be considered for removal from that list based on measures that must be implemented to protect the Barrier Reef. Belize will have to try again next year to be removed from the list when it submits it status report showing that steps have been taken to address the threats to the reef.
Hey Castaways, if you loving diving and love Belize, then you’re going to enjoy this guest post by Joe Black. Cheers!
I’m Joe, I run Nature Rated. I love spending time in the outdoors. Whenever daily life gets me down I head to the nearest lake or river with my kayak and my camera and I spend time recharging my batteries. I hope you’ll love my no fluff to the point reviews and that they’ll help you choose the right gear for your next adventure!
It is one thing to visit and dive in the Belize Barrier Reef. It’s another to understand what makes this destination one of the Great Wonders of the World. Before you put on your snorkel gear, test your knowledge and see how many of the facts below you already know.
If the old adage “location, location, location” is the most important factor to consider when buying real estate, then Hatchet Caye—a seven-acre private island resort located 17 miles off the coast of Placencia, Belize—is a find on all fronts. Currently on the market for $9.9 million, the scenic stretch of sand is stationed just three miles from the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. The reef, which is the second largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Showcasing offshore atolls and coastal lagoons, the reef is a premier spot for snorkeling and diving. And Hatchet Caye provides easy access to the world wonder.
“The most unique thing about the island is its location,” says Tony Camacho, director of the holding company that currently manages Hatchet Caye.
Nestled in Central America on the Caribbean coast between Mexico and Guatemala, Belize lies at the centre of the Mesoamerican “biodiversity hotspot”. Pristine subtropical forests provide a refuge for wildlife and conceal ancient Mayan ruins whilst the warm clear waters of the Caribbean lap sandy Cayes offering access to the world’s second longest barrier reef and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; renowned for its spectacular snorkelling and diving.
Infused throughout is the country’s culture influenced by Belize’s Afro-Caribbean roots, creating a fabulous laid-back atmosphere.
They were one of the star turns in BBC’s epic Planet Earth 2 – the tiny hawksbill turtles saved from near certain death as they struggled to find their way to sea. Their odds of surviving from hatchling to fully grown adult are minuscule, and only one out of a thousand is expected to survive, the programme explained.
One place where the threatened hawksbill turtles are thriving however, is in the protected waters of Glover’s Reef Atoll off the coast of Belize. Conservation efforts there in recent years are proving incredibly successful with the most recent count in the coral reefs finding more than 1000 juveniles living there.
Glover’s Reef – named after two infamous pirate brothers – is one of the world’s great barrier reef systems and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The area is also important to Belize’s fishing economy and turtle numbers had been declining until a major conservation project began.
December marks the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage listing of seven protected areas along Belize’s barrier reef. Local celebrations for these coral atolls, mangrove forests and vibrant underwater landscapes are tinged with concern: These unique places face many manmade threats, and have been listed as ‘World Heritage in Danger’ since 2009. Now, armed with new legislation, sustainable tourism ventures — and in some cases, scuba gear — Belizeans are fighting to safeguard their reef for the long haul.
The Belizean reef, which stretches into neighboring Mexico and Honduras, is over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from tip to tip — making it the world’s longest reef after the Great Barrier Reef. But its size hasn’t shielded it from human harms.
In 2009, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage in Danger.
Mud. It may not seem terribly exciting, and most of us even go out of our way to avoid it. But mud is actually fascinating stuff. Why? Well, for one, studying mud can help us better understand various natural processes and phenomena. For example, the sediment in a layer of mud can shed light on the origin of the water that carried it. Mud from the sea floor can teach us about ocean acidification. And mud can even help scientists figure out when and where hurricanes struck in the past, long before humans were around to keep track of such things. In a sense, mud keeps a journal of events that happen on earth, but it’s up to us to decipher those “memories.”