The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is not just one of the most diverse ecosystems in the Americas with exotic corals and more than 500 species of fish, it is also the source of livelihood for thousands of people. Sadly, due to recent spurt in tourism and insufficient waste management measures, this beautiful gift of nature is deteriorating at an alarming pace.
“Throughout the Caribbean, we have seen a massive decrease in coral coverage,” says Michael Webster, executive director of the Coral Reef Alliance, a nonprofit organisation that works on reef conservation in Honduras. “Whereas we might have had 60-70% coral coverage in the past, now it’s down to 5-10% in places.”
Now, the rapidly changing climate could make the damage even worse. The impacts of rapid weather changes are already being witnessed across the reef system. A recent study found 22% of the coral colonies presented signs of bleaching from elevated sea temperatures. And this bleaching could soon get worse.