Greater Antillean Marine
About the Area
The reef, one of the largest in the world, is also considered to be one of the finest barrier reefs in the Caribbean.Local Species
Fishes of interest include Stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride), Clown wrasse (Halichoeres maculipinna), Cherub fish (Centropye argi), Nassau grouper (Epinephalus striatus), and the Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus).
Other species include Conch (Strombus gigas), White-tailed tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus), and the Black-capped petrel (Pterodroma hasitata). In addition to being a breeding ground for the Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), the region also makes excellent habitat for the endangered American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus).
Severe development pressures (population densities exceed 500 people per square kilometer on some islands), poverty, tourism activities, industrial activities especially from sugar cane mills and food-processing plants, and high population growth rates have led to intensive and unplanned land use, loss of mangroves, over exploitation of coral reef resources, degradation of water quality, anoxia, fish kills, coral bleaching, and, in some cases, pollution induced diseases.
Dredge-and-fill operations, fishing with bottom trawls, and oil spills are further threats that have taken their toll on important habitats, including seagrass beds and their associated fish nurseries.
Northern Caribbean Sea
What is a "Conch"?
Conchs are large marine snails that feed on tiny plant matter in warm waters. The queen conch has a beautiful pink shell that can grow to 12 inches (30 cm) long.