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Chetumal Bay and Belize Barrier Reef, Yucatán Peninsula

18.3N 88W

March 4th, 2013 Category: Climate Change

Mexico and Belize – March 3rd, 2013

Chetumal Bay is a large bay in northern Belize and eastern Mexico in the south of the Yucatán Peninsula. It is situated near the center of this image and appears bright shades of green and teal. On the bay is the major city of Chetumal, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The mouth of the bay is redirected southward and buffered by a large Belizean island named Ambergris Caye. A smaller inlet known as the Corozal Bay, named after the town of Corozal, extends to the southwest. The bay is a part of the Caribbean Sea.

Visible south of the bay is a stretch of the Belize Barrier Reef, a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 meters (980 ft) offshore in the north and 40 kilometers (25 mi) in the south within the country limits. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300 kilometers (190 mi) long section of the 900 kilometers (560 mi) long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya up to Honduras making it one of the largest coral reef systems in the world.

Scientists studying climate change impacts in Belize have found that sea level rise and sea surface temperature increases are very likely to affect Mesoamerican coral reefs, with consequences for a number of endangered species: e.g. the green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles, the West Indian manatee and the American and Motelet’s species of crocodile with warmer sea surface temperature of 1°C-3°C by the 2080s.

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