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Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve to undergo expansion project

The Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve will be undergoing an expansion project to protect an important reef system known as the Corona Reef, or Cayman Crown, located south of the cayes. The Corona Reef is situation at the southwest terminus of the Cayman Trench within Belize’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve will be undergoing an expansion project to protect an important reef system known as the Corona Reef, or Cayman Crown, located south of the cayes. The Corona Reef is situation at the southwest terminus of the Cayman Trench within Belize’s Exclusive Economic Zone. It is a complex reef with one of the most under represented habitats in the marine protected areas system of Belize. Despite this, it is believed to be a biologically important hotspot, serving as a spawning aggregation site for numerous fin fish species and as a habitat for deep-slope snapper and bottom-dwelling species. Due to its proximity to Guatemala and Honduras, the reef complex faces continuous threat of the transboundary illegal fishing. This protected status will allow for more effective law enforcement presence by the Belize Coast Guard and the Fisheries Department. The expansion will increase the size of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve to approximately seven times its existing size.  The expanded zone contains no land but is a vast area of shallow coral reefs with depths ranging from eight metres down to 80 metres and into deeper mesophotic reefs that descend into subsea canyons.  The shallow reefs in Corona area exhibit areas of live coral cover as high as 60%, equivalent to the healthiest reefs in the entire Caribbean.  These vibrant reefs contain threatened and endangered species of corals and previously undocumented reef types.