Mesoamerican Reef Update

Mesoamerican Reef Update
From CEA

Welcome to the reefs of the Riviera Maya, part of the world’s second largest barrier reef system—the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Coral reefs are the second most diverse ecosystems (after rainforests), supporting more species than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 fish species, 800 species of hard corals, and hundreds of other species.

Coral is actually an animal composed of tiny, fragile polyps. Corals grow very slowly, some no more than 1-2cm per year. Because the coral surface is living tissue, standing on it or simply touching it can damage and even kill it, destroying decades of growth.

Coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves work together to maintain the diversity, productivity and ecological balance of tropical coastal ecosystems. Both mangroves and seagrasses protect reefs from land runoff sedimentation. In return, coral reefs protect mangroves and seagrasses from erosion due to strong wave action. Our paradise is lost without this combination.

These ecosystems are currently under pressure from human activities including coastal development, sewage pollution, water sports, overfishing, agricultural and industrial run off and deforestation.


  • “Look, don’t touch.” Do not touch anything while snorkelling or diving.
  • Do not stand on the reef. Trampling is one of the major threats to coral.
  • Try to avoid kicking up sand, as it can smother coral polyps.
  • Do not fish in the bays or lagoons; it is prohibited by law.
  • Dispose of your trash properly, and help keep beaches clean.


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