Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley
Located just a few miles offshore Ambergris Caye is the northern part of the Belize Barrier Reef, the location of the protected Hol Chan Marine Reserve. First established in 1987, today Hol Chan measures more than 13,000 acres and is divided into four distinct marine zones:
- Zone A – Coral Reef – Bursting with underwater life, this zone is the anchor point for the reserve, home to several distinct species of living coral.
- Zone B – Sea Grass Beds – Thousands of species use the undulating sea grass to hide from predators or stalk their prey.
- Zone C – Mangroves – Closer to shore, the salt-resistant roots of the mangrove tree serve as a nursery for juvenile fish and animals as well as a rich assortment of marine fauna.
- Zone D – Shark Ray Alley – A natural cut in the reef gives divers a chance to see rays, sharks and dozens of other species in shallow water with a white sandy sea floor perfect for snorkeling.
Because the waters of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve are protected from commercial fishing and industrial exploitation, hundreds of aquatic species flourish here, including three kinds of coral, anemones and a colorful assortment of fauna, two species of sea turtle, large schools of fish like grouper and playful nurse sharks.
Here is a video on the Hol Chan Marine Reserve:
Snorkeling in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve provides a view of the healthy coral reefs that provide habitat to a variety of marine life. While snorkeling Hol Chan, you may encounter sea turtles, southern stingrays, spotted eagle rays, nurse sharks and small reef fish.