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Snorkeling Lighthouse Reef

Listed under Snorkelling in Belize.

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Photo by flickr user Tim Sheerman-Chase
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Lighthouse Reef houses the famous Blue Hole, a geologic structure that offers some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. Essentially a grand cavern whose roof collapsed long ago, the Blue Hole is famous for its perfectly circular shape—1000 feet in diameter—and its precipitous walls plunging over 400 feet deep through clear water to a distant dark bottom. Although the Blue Hole is promoted principally as a diving destination, the “fringing” lip of this geologic phenomenon, especially along the northern entrance channel, features rich and colorful shallow water coral communities. It’s an exquisite snorkeling location---a protected habitat for myriad fish and invertebrate life, thriving just a few inches below the surface. Shallow reefs with gardens of hard and soft corals harbor many species of colorful reef fish, schools of grunts, grazing parrotfish. Some of the Caribbean’s healthiest sponges and sea fans provide panoramic vistas of brilliant reds, greens, yellows and vibrant purples. Tube sponges can extend several feet, and barrel sponges can attain over three feet in diameter. Within the Lighthouse Reef lies Half Moon Caye, now a national Monument dedicated to the preservation of the rare Red-Footed Booby and the Magnificent Frigate Bird. A vast back reef extends perpendicular to the northeastern shore of Half Moon Caye. This shallow region punctuated by patch reef and sand channels often offers snorkelers views of lobsters, nurse sharks, sting rays, trigger fish, schools of blue tangs, barracuda, parrot fish and unusually large cowfish.

Written by  Joel Simon.

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