Situated just off the Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel is a well-known destinations for scuba-diving and snorkel diving. The submerged world around Cozumel was found by Jacques Cousteau in 1959 who called it-one of the finest diving places on earth. Since that time Cozumel has changed into a Nationwide Marine Park to defend the fragile balance of it is wonderful coral reefs and astounding selection of tropical fish. The marine park gives a number of the very best visibility that one may strike to the diver. Visibleness regularly reaches spaces of 30 meters (100feet). or more. Possibly the most distinguishing element of the place is the Magnificent Toadfish, a vivid, vibrant fish species seen nowhere else In The World.
Cozumel coral reefs are among the best known diving destinations in the world. The island is 15 km large and 50 km long and is surrounded by a huge coral reef. It can be reached by ferry after a 40 minute ride from Playa del Carmen, located south of Cancun, Yucatan. Isla Cozumel has the indigenous name Ah-Cuzamil-Peten, meaning “land of the swallows”. The Mayans living on the island used to worship the goddess of fertility – Ixchell. This was hundreds of years before the first Europeans landed on the island in 1518. Nowadays, the island is a well-known destination for divers from all around the world.
The leeward shore of the Cozumel Island, near the Yucatán Peninsula, supports three types of coral reefs: rich shelf-edge reefs, linear patch reefs, and small fringing reefs. All these reefs can primarily be found on the sloping areas of the shelf covered with sand, off the western Cozumel’s shore. The shelf-edge reefs have an irregular system, although they are situated on a leeward shore. The coral cover and species diversity here is greater than what can be found on the Yucatán coast: 13 forms and 38 species of stony corals have been identified.
The Splendor of the Cozumel Reefs
In 1961, Jacques-Yves Cousteau showed to the world the splendor and richness of the ocean floor around Cozumel. Over 250 fish species live here, in the blue colored waters that surround the island. Starting with the beautiful Queen Angelfish and indigenous Toad fish, spiny lobsters, undulating anemones with neon-colored fingers, Hawksbill turtles, crabs, squid, nurse sharks, flamingo tongues, and ending with the barrel and elephant ear sponges that can reach three meter in size, many other surprising species can be watched in their natural habitat by the divers who dare face the strong ocean currents, the steep pinnacles and tunnels under the Atlantic’s surface.
Characteristics of Cozumel Coral Reefs
The differences between the three types of reefs in the region lie in the following characteristics:
Shelf-edge reefs are to be found on the southwest shore, on a kilometer-wide shelf. Santa Rosa, Colombia, Palancar, Maracaibo and Punta Sur are the largest reefs. They generally rise 3-5 m above the shelf and are irregularly separated by 3-8 m deep sand channels.
Patch reefs are parallel to the shore and rise 2-3 m above the surface of the shelf. They are 5-30 m wide generally. Pariso, Yucab, Outer Chancanab, and Shallow Colombia are the main reefs of this type.
Fringing reefs follow the shore line between San Miguel and Punta Tunich. The shore here consists of weathered coral rocks, dipping vertically to a depth between 0.5 and 3 m.
Types of Corals in the Cozumel Island
There are several species of corals growing around the Cozumel Island:
Shelf-edge reefs – Porites sp. (finger coral or hump coral), Agaricia sp. (lettuce or leaf coral), Montastrea sp. (boulder star coral), Madracis sp. (yellow finger coral), Helioseris sp. (sunray lettuce coral);
Patch reefs – Agaricia sp. (lettuce or leaf coral), Porites sp. (finger coral or hump coral), Montastrea sp. (boulder star coral);
Fringing reefs – Millepora sp. (sea ginger coral), Porites sp. (finger coral or hump coral), Acropora sp. (table, elkhorn and staghorn corals).
The variety and richness of marine life around the Cozumel coral reefs is impressive and has determined scientists and authorities to take measures for protecting it.