Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean and are home to around 25% of all known marine species in the world.
In Mexico, there are reefs all along the coastline: from Baja California to Oaxaca in the Pacific Ocean; off the coasts of Veracruz and Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico, and along the Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea.
One of the most important, Alacranes Reef National Park, is located 87 miles north of Progreso and is the location for Oceana’s first expedition in Mexico.
Why are we going there? Here are 5 reasons:
1) Habitat for a large number of marine animals
The Alacranes Reef National Park is located 87 miles from Progreso, Yucatán. Four of the seven species of sea turtles that exist in the world – hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead and green – have been recorded there, along with 24 species of shark, 136 species of fish, 34 species of corals, and marine mammals like pilot whales and dolphins.
This reef also provides sustenance for hundreds of families that are dedicated to fishing for important commercial species, like grouper and lobster.
2) Importance of world recognition
The Alacranes reef has great biological diversity and fishing potential. It was selected to be part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 2006.
3) Bigger than Mexico City
The Alacranes Reef National Park covers an area of 1,289 square miles, which is equivalent to just over twice the size of Mexico City. This protected area gets its name from the Alacranes Reef, which is the largest coral structure in the southern Gulf of Mexico.
There are also 5 islands within the protected area: Isla Pájaros (or Blanca), Isla Chica, Isla Pérez, Isla Muertos (or Desertora) and Isla Desterrada, which are important nesting sites for 116 species of birds, including the peregrine falcon, piping plover and the masked booby.
4) A world awaiting discovery
Located a few miles from the Alacranes reef is Bajos del Norte, a reef area little explored and studied by science that could host unknown marine species.
5) A treasure at risk
Although the Alacranes Reef National Park is a protected area, the Bajos del Norte reef is not. The great beauty and importance of this site are threatened by the growth of tourism, overfishing and pollution.