Caye Caulker Marine Reserve is a long (~11 km) narrow marine protected area (MPA) occupying a length of Barrier Reef and adjacent patch reef, seagrass, and submerged mangrove habitats. These habitats are interdependent, relying on one another for storm protection, nursery grounds, production of energy, filtration of seawater and prevention of erosion.
Reef-Barrier reef consists of communities of living corals, fish and other organisms working together for survival and to hold on to their place in the sun. Barrier reef is designed to stand strong against incoming waves meanwhile extracting all available food from the surrounding sea. Some of the best IUCN listed Critically Endangered Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata) resides within and adjacent to Caye caulker Marine Reserve (CCMR).
Associated with each channel in the reef is a set of patch reefs, called “Coral Gardens”. Three of these reside in CCMR, principally composed of Boulder corals (Montastraea spp) with Mustard Hill (Porites astreoides) and Brian corals (Diploria spp.).
Between these structures are vast Seagrass meadows ranging from sparse to dense, supporting its own community, collecting free-moving bottom sediments and producing and exporting tremendous amounts of energy. Seagrass is a true flowering plant, able to reproduce by means of pollination, however most is accomplished by extension of rhizomes (roots).
Lining the shores of Caye Caulker are dense clumps of mangroves which hold shorelines, produce energy, filter seawater and rainwater before it enters the sea, and functions as a nursery ground for many animals used for commercial fisheries and the tourism industry.