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Belize Barrier Reef, Dolphins, Mayans and Oil Drilling

Updated on September 12, 2015

A Historic Coral Reef

A brilliant travel attraction as well as a natural historic wonder of the world, Belize’s Barrier Reef, its corals and its local dolphins are all safe from off shore oil drilling. The small country's Supreme Court declared such drilling illegal and while a legal appeal has been made against this legislation, many hope that the reef and its inhabitants will remain safe.

The advocate organization Oceana has published materials to the effect that oil related Seismic testing beneath the ocean floor near the reef could deafen or even kill the local dolphins and sea turtles. Any oil spill would be devastating to the beautiful biodiversity of plant and animal life in and around the reef, all the way up onto the shores of Belize.

This area is a UNNESCO world Heritage Area deserving of some protections. Harm to the reef and its wildlife and native plant inhabitants could wreck the tourist trade of Belize as well, along with the ecosphere.

This coral reef of Belize is the second largest in world and the longest single such reef in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Western Hemisphere, making it the longest in 3/4 of the entire world. As a sort of historic natural institution of a sort and as a habitat, our allowing irreversible damage to it is not wise. Damage would negatively impact the tourist trade as well as the balance of the local ecology.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Jaguar. Jaguarondi, found throughout Central and South America.
Jaguar.
Jaguar. | Source
Jaguarondi, found throughout Central and South America.
Jaguarondi, found throughout Central and South America. | Source

Importance Of the Belize Reef

The advocate organization Oceana has published materials to the effect that oil related Seismic testing beneath the ocean floor near the reef could deafen or even kill the local dolphins and sea turtles. Any oil spill would be devastating to the beautiful biodiversity of plant and animal life in and around the reef, all the way up onto the shores of Belize.

This area is a UNNESCO world Heritage Area deserving of some protections. Harm to the reef and its wildlife and native plant inhabitants could wreck the tourist trade of Belize as well, along with the ecosphere.

This coral reef of Belize is the second largest in world and the longest single such reef in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Western Hemisphere, making it the longest in 3/4 of the entire world. As a sort of historic natural institution of a sort and as a habitat, our allowing irreversible damage to it is not wise. Damage would negatively impact the tourist trade as well as the balance of the local ecology.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fraser's Dolphin. This is one of the species that could be threatened by oil drilling. Large oil deposits have been found around Belize.
Fraser's Dolphin. This is one of the species that could be threatened by oil drilling. Large oil deposits have been found around Belize.
Fraser's Dolphin. This is one of the species that could be threatened by oil drilling. Large oil deposits have been found around Belize. | Source

Belize Barrier Reef Runs Roughly North and South

A
Belize Barrier Reef:
Belize Barrier Reef, Belize

get directions

Center point of the corraf reef system at Belize.

Belize

A
Belize Barrier Reef:
Belize Barrier Reef, Belize

get directions

B
Caracol Belize:
Caracol, Belize

get directions

Largest Mayan site.

C
Chetumal:
Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico

get directions

West of this location by 75 miles is the June 2013 dig that found a Mayan city and its ruins of ball courts, tall pyramids, engraved stones, and more.

D
Altun Ha:
Altun Ha, Rock Stone Pond, Belize

get directions

Ancient Mayan City

E
Xunantunich:
Xunantunich Road, San Jose Succotz, Belize

get directions

F
Lubantuun:
Lubaantun, Belize

get directions

Another Mayan site, in and near the Maya Mountains.

Newly Discovered Mayan Ruins Site Uncovered in Southern Mexico in June 2013

Archaeological and historical evidence of the civilization and villages of Mayans and their current descendants has been found around Mexico and Central America.

This is particularly true of locations in the countries adjacent to southern Mexico, especially Belize. There, Caracol is the largest Mayan site of them all (see related links below).

An ongoing research dig in the Mexico-Belize area found a new Mayan site in southern Mexico very close to Belize and just north of the Xunantunich in Western Belize.

The newly found Mayan civilization site includes hundreds of acres of engraved upright slabs that are felt to be memorials of some kind, Mayan ball courts, tall pyramids up to 75 feet in height, and other structures and artifacts.

The links below describe some interesting aspects of Mayan history, art, and culture.

Belize City

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bus terminalBelize City's original swing bridge in 1923. A newer version, painted yellow, cuts the city in half into North and South sections.St. John's Cathedral.A single mangrove tree sprout in the sea.
Bus terminal
Bus terminal | Source
Belize City's original swing bridge in 1923. A newer version, painted yellow, cuts the city in half into North and South sections.
Belize City's original swing bridge in 1923. A newer version, painted yellow, cuts the city in half into North and South sections. | Source
St. John's Cathedral.
St. John's Cathedral. | Source
A single mangrove tree sprout in the sea.
A single mangrove tree sprout in the sea. | Source

Embassies

US Embassy, Belmopan
# 4 Floral Park Road
Belmopan, Cayo District
Belize, Central America
Telephone: 011-501-822-4011
FAX: 011-501-822-4050; Email: embbelize@state.gov

Consulate of Canada in Belize City

80 Princess Margaret Drive; Belize City, Belize

Phone: (501) 223-1060; FAX: (501) 223-006; Email: cdncon.bze@btl.net

Embassy of Mexico in Belmopan

3 North Ring Road; P.O. Box: 388; Belmopan, Belize

Phone: (501) 822-0406, 822-2480; FAX: (501) 822-2487; Email: embamexbze@btl.net

Maya Mountains, Belize

A
Maya Mountains, Belize:
Maya Mountains, Belize

get directions

How to Cook a Tapir

How to Cook a Tapir: A Memoir of Belize (At Table)
How to Cook a Tapir: A Memoir of Belize (At Table)

A memoir of a one-year working honeymoon.

 

In the Maya Mountains

The region of the Maya Mountains is the Toledo District of the country, something akin to a US State in America.

Punta Gorda is the capital of this area that is full of rain forests, caves, and sand islands (cayes) atop coral reefs. Some of the places to visit in these mountains are:

  • Burton Caliz Farm and Eladio Pops Farm
  • Blue Creek Cave
  • Maya Mountains Research Farm
  • San Antonio Waterfall
  • Santa Cruz Waterfall
  • Tapir Mountain Natural Preserve - The tapir is a prominent animal in this country.

The Birds Of Belize

Osprey
Osprey | Source

Birding In Belize

The Audubon Society has a major presence in this country, with several facilities and many visitors and residents that appreciate the wildlife of the area.

Belize supoorts hundreds of species of birds to see and specialized birding trips are available.

All this activity is in addition to boating, sport fishing, snorkeling, swimming, and touring of many types.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Acorn WoodpeckerRufous-breasted SpinetailLovely Cotinga
Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker | Source
Rufous-breasted Spinetail
Rufous-breasted Spinetail | Source
Lovely Cotinga
Lovely Cotinga | Source

Where Is Belize? - Visit the Maya Mountains

For years, a supervisor for whom I worked spent two weeks each summer in the country of Belize. He enjoyed the seashore and its attractions, but also spent much time in Belize City. He never tired of the country as a vacation and sightseeing spot.

Belize, once called British Honduras until the 1970s, is at the top of Central America, adjacent to the southernmost part of Mexico, and co vers about 12,240 square miles of land. The Caribbean Sea lies to the east.

The local barrier reef is over 180 miles long and lies just east of Belize. Its distance from shore varies along its length, ranging from about 1,000 feet in the north to 25 miles in the south. However, at Rocky Point, it touches the shoreline. Still, sightseers need to take water transportation to the reef, because it is difficult to navigate by foot or swimming.

The area of the coral reef is large, 370 square miles near Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, also close to Blue Hole Natural Monument, and Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, Ambergris Caye, and other features. Ambergris Caye is the most popular spot each year, because of the Blue Hole underwater cave, but there are plant of other attractions to enjoy.

One unique attraction that many do not know is the Maya Mountains Research Farm. In the southern part of Belize, the farm is a non-governmental organization that promotes sustainable agriculture and permaculture principles. The staff work on projects with universities in the southern USA and offer a yearly permaculture design course. Currently, one of their big projects is vanilla growing, in which the growing process naturally requires hand pollination and 9 months of growth and the curing of the beans requires 9 months more. Of over 600 plant species tended, cacao is another important small crop here.

Selected Sights Of Belize

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Mexican Poinsettia grows naturally in Belize. Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Blue Hole Cae - 400 feet deep, although some sources insist on 480 feet.Cocao Beans
Source
The Mexican Poinsettia grows naturally in Belize.
The Mexican Poinsettia grows naturally in Belize. | Source
Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Blue Hole Cae - 400 feet deep, although some sources insist on 480 feet.
Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Blue Hole Cae - 400 feet deep, although some sources insist on 480 feet. | Source
Cocao Beans
Cocao Beans | Source

The National Symbols of Belize

Black Orchid, national symbol.
Black Orchid, national symbol. | Source

Southern Spotted Skunk & Other Wildlife

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Indigenous to Belize.9-banded ArmadilloSilky AnteaterOcelot
Indigenous to Belize.
Indigenous to Belize. | Source
9-banded Armadillo
9-banded Armadillo | Source
Silky Anteater
Silky Anteater | Source
Ocelot
Ocelot | Source

Blue Hole National Momument

Hol Chan Marine Preserve

Yellow Sting Ray
Yellow Sting Ray | Source

Xunantunich, an Ancient Mayan archaeological site

© 2013 Patty Inglish MS

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks, Elias Zanetti! - and there are several other tourist sites in addition to those listed. I also see where the government is planning to improve additional lands for more parks - there's such a lot to see and do for a smaller country!

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 

      5 years ago from Athens, Greece

      A great travel piece, Patty and a thorough coverage of Belize's natural beauty, cultural and historical backgroung. Seems as a wonderful place to visit.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I appreciate eveeryone's comments very much and wonder what it would be like to acutally live among the wildlife and native plants of Belize - and among ancient civilizations' ruins and actual Mayan descendants.

      Anyway, someonwhoknows - you're speaking of Benghazi? That was very bad -- I think that travel outside the US is sometimes a matter of hoping for the best and being glad when the worst does not occur. There are a couple places I might not travel, but Belize is OK by me, although I wish the US Embassy was in Belize City.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 

      5 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      Wonderful area for a vacation.I can't help but wonder though what Hillery Clinton thinks about it.Seeing how she thinks the Attack on the American Embassy was unimportant and irrelevant subject to talk about since she is responsible in part for the Americans who died there.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Belize is a beautiful country. The slow, considerate culture is fantastic.

    • Iammattdoran profile image

      Matt Doran 

      5 years ago from Manchester, UK

      Cool hub! You really make Belize look like a great place to visit (which I'm sure it is). I'd like to go there one day. Voted up. Matt

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      5 years ago from south Florida

      Belize appears to be a beautiful country with many natural tourist attractions. Now I have to add it to my bucket list, Patty. Thanks for the tour.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      You've provided such fasinating detail on the animals and historic significance of this area. The pictures and facts are really interesting. I love manatees and I'm glad you indicated this one was being studied before release. We used to see these creatures quite a bit in South Florida.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thank you very much!

    • jabelufiroz profile image

      Firoz 

      5 years ago from India

      Well researched tour diary. Voted up and useful.

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