BlueWild in partnership with TASA (Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association)

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About Turneffe Atoll

Turneffe Atoll is a global hotspot for marine biodiversity, and a vital part of the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. A must-see destination for responsible travellers and anyone who’s passionate about marine conservation.

We can only conserve
what we can understand

Ongoing research programmes within the Turneffe MPA are improving our knowledge of the reef and the species that depend upon it, as well as helping to highlight the challenges faced by this fragile ecosystem. Without science, we’d be unable to find solutions to these challenges, and we would battle to save the reef. From the deep-water spawning behaviour of the Nassau Grouper to the transformation of the wreck of the Wit into a reef and the stories of the original inhabitants of the islands, the Maya, much of what we know about Turneffe is thanks to science.

As a visitor to the Turneffe Atoll, we’d like to give you the opportunity to LEARN how this ecosystem operates, why we need to save it, and how you can help.

LEARN

What is a Marine Protected Area?

A Marine Protected Area (MPA) or Marine Reserve is the ocean equivalent of a national park on land – that is, a designated area that’s legally protected to ensure the survival of ecosystems and wildlife. MPAs are multi-purpose areas with conservation as their core purpose, but which often also provide for livelihoods for local people and enable responsible travel and ecotourism experiences. MPAs often protect a variety of habitats, including coral reefs and deeper water zones.

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Why are reef ecosystems and corals important?

Coral reefs provide homes and habitats for many other species – they are quite literally the foundations of marine ecosystems. Coral reefs are gradually eroded by the action of waves – this contributes sand to beaches and mangrove swamps. Reefs are important to people, too, as a source of protein and building materials. As ocean levels rise due to global climate change, the fact that coral reefs act as breakwaters and absorb storm energy is being more widely acknowledged.

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The importance of science and monitoring

Even more than on land, science and monitoring are vital underwater. The marine environment is as complex as it is beautiful, and there’s a great deal we still don’t know.  

Collecting data helps us make better-informed management decisions and can reveal previously unsuspected risks and links between different species and habitats.

Science helps us make the argument for protecting Turneffe Atoll now and in the future, and gives our passion for preservation a solid grounding in fact.

Science is the author of our stories

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About Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve

Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve protects almost 1 400km2 of the greater Mesoamerican Reef. Even though Turneffe is a discrete coral structure, it’s part of this much larger barrier reef. Turneffe Atoll lies approximately 50km off the eastern coast of Belize. There are no permanent human settlements withing the reserve, but it’s a vital resource for local coastal communities and ecotourism. Above all, Turneffe Atoll is a biodiversity hotspot and a place that we need to protect for future generations.

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The Wildlife of Turneffe Atoll

On a visit to Turneffe Atoll, you’re likely to encounter species that may be familiar – and some that you’ve almost certainly never seen before. 

The unique combination of habitats, from the shallow water around the reef to the much deeper ocean just beyond it, mean that Turneffe provides a home to literally hundreds of species of coral, fish, invertebrates and reptiles, from tiny, colourful reef fish to sea turtles, sharks and groupers. Who will you meet?

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How to travel responsibly when visiting marine ecosystems

Marine ecotourism and responsible travel can have a very beneficial impact on marine parks and the coastal communities that depend on them. However, if conducted recklessly or thoughtlessly, tourism can have the opposite effect. We’ve created this guide to help you be more aware of the issues involved when you travel in a marine protected area, and to help you follow best practices during your vacation — It’s vital to get this right, both for today and for future generations. 

Sea the world. Differently.

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