Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System
Covering an area more than 1000 km from the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula at Isla Contoy all the way down to Honduras' Bay Islands, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System has several protected areas and parks included in the reef system such as Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, the Belize Barrier Reef, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve, and the Cayos Cochinos Marine Park. It's the second largest barrier reef system in the world and the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere, which starts in Mexico to the north and continues on along the coasts of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Home to more than 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk and more than 500 species of fish, and one of the world's largest manatee populations, numbering an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 manatees, the reef system has some of the most vibrant marine life seen anywhere in the world, including several endangered species that live in or around the reef that are being protected, including: sea turtles (Hawksbill turtle, Leatherback turtle, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, and the Green turtle), the West Indian Manatee, the Queen Conch, the Splendid toadfish, the American crocodile, the Morelet's Crocodile, the Nassau grouper,black coral, and the Elkhorn coral. The world's largest fish - the Whale Shark - can be seen in some areas of the reef system. Normally a solitary creature, the Whale sharks congregate at the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System in social groups for eating and mating.