On the Placencia Peninsula, the ocean is a constant presence. We can hear the gentle waves lap against the sandy shores from nearly every corner of this narrow spit of land off the coast of Belize. That's partly why we're obsessed—yes, obsessed—with the Belize Barrier Reef.
Spanning 185 miles of our country's coastline, the greater Belize Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the Northern Hemisphere. Recently, UNESCO removed the reef from its list of endangered World Heritage Sites, an inspiring result of decades of conservationism on the part of Belize's national government and local communities. One new policy that's sure to further protect the reef is the country's commitment to phase out single-use plastics, such as shopping bags, utensils and straws by Earth Day 2019. This announcement comes just off the heels of the country's moratorium on any oil-related activity in its waters. As countries around the world battle Climate Change, Belize has become a world leader in environmental sustainability, and we couldn't be prouder. These policies help ensure that our reef remains the pristine, wildlife-rich oasis it is today—covering just 0.1 percent of the ocean surface, reefs support at least 25 percent of all marine life worldwide.
One of the organizations helping to preserve Belize's Barrier Reef is Fragments of Hope. It re-seeds damaged areas of the reef genetically robust, diverse corals. This Placencia-based organization received the prestigious UN Climate Solutions Award in 2017, and has planted more than 90,000 corals at three locations throughout southern Belize.
To help us in our pursuit to continue to restore Belize's Barrier Reef, we have a few tips that you can do when you visit us here in Placencia:
- Turn off the tap
- Conserving water helps to subtract the amount of runoff and wastewater that will eventually find its way back into the ocean.
- Avoid toxic sunscreens
- It's important to wear sunscreen here in the tropics, but most brands contain oxybenzone, a toxin that exacerbates coral bleaching, damages coral DNA and results in coral deformities over time. The U.S. government estimates between 4,000 and 6,00 tons of sunscreen reach reefs worldwide every year. Allure has a great list of options for toxin-free sunscreens that are reef-approved.
- Enough with the plastic
- Straws are one of the most popular single-use plastics polluting our waters. By purchasing a set of metal or rubber reusable straws, you won't just be saving yourself money and helping us with our cause, but you'll also be protecting the wildlife in our oceans!
Stay connected with us here at Itz'ana for more updates on Belize's magnificent coral reef