Monday, 28 August 2017

Spectacular rebirth of Belize's coral reefs threatened by tourism and development

Report reveals improvement but also details danger posed by tourist-generated pollution, oil extraction and climate change

Nina Lakhani in Laughing Bird Caye, Belize

Tuesday 22 August 2017 06.00 BSTLast modified on Tuesday 22 August 2017 10.35 BST
Just below the surface of the turquoise sea, coral flutters majestically amid schools of puffed up porcupinefish and fluorescent blue and yellow angelfish.

The gangly staghorn and fanning elkhorn corals are thriving in swimming distance of Laughing Bird Caye, a tiny Caribbean sandy islet in southern Belize, thanks to a restoration project that is yielding striking results.

More than 90,000 corals grown in sea nurseries have been planted in shallow reefs, increasing coral cover in these southern warm waters by 35%. Marine creatures are reproducing, and about 90% have survived natural and manmade pressures for almost a decade.

Hailed as the most impressive coral reef restoration effort in the Caribbean, its success is linked to a grassroots movement uniting fisherman, tour guides, scientists and environmentalists working to conserve the 700-mile Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) – the second largest barrier reef in the world.

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