Just off the coast of Mahahual lies the Mesoamerican Reef, with more than 600 miles of extension along the coast of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, it is the world’s second largest coral reef, and it is home to a vast variety of exotic marine life including many species of turtles, 65 species of coral, and over 500 species of fish. It also holds the largest population of manatees in the world (estimated to be at around 1,000 to 1,500 individuals) and even houses some rare species of sharks and crocodiles that you will have the opportunity to see and coexist with while you enjoy any one of the fantastic snorkeling excursions at Costa Maya.
Probably one of the most recognizable species (thanks to our valiant friends Nemo and Dory) you will see is the Blue Tang. Its vibrant royal blue body, black back, and yellow fins make it easily distinguishable. The Blue Tang is usually found in pairs or small groups of up to 14 individuals and it is of great importance to the reef’s eco-system as it feeds on the algae that could otherwise choke the reef with overgrowth.
With the reputation as one of the most voracious predators in the reef, the Great Barracuda can grow to an astounding 1.5 m (4.9 ft.) in length and weigh up to 23 kg (51 lbs.). This large specie has a blue-grey upper that fades down to a silvery and chalky-white bottom with black blotches on each lower sides and dark violet to black fins with white tips. Its powerful jaws hold strong fang-like teeth, and its ability to take quick bursts of speed up to 43 km/h (27 mph) make it a grand spectacle to witness while swimming the reefs of Mahahual.
As you’re out on your snorkel adventure at Mahahual, be sure to look out for the magnificent Red Lionfish. This fish has alternating white and dark red or brown stripes and is easily recognizable by its large venomous spines that protrude from its body similar to a mane; giving it its name. With an average lifespan of 10 years, this fish can grow up to 47 cm long (18.5 in.). If you see one, make sure to snap a good picture!
Another rare species you may see on your snorkel adventure in Mahahual is the mysterious Stingray. There is a variety of species of Stingray that can be found foraging along the Caribbean Sea, including the Southern stingray and the Yellow stingray. These all vary in colors, shapes, and sizes, anywhere from a darker gray, olive brown, to green or yellow, and can measure anywhere from 36 cm (14 in.) up to and amazing 150 cm (59 in.) wide when fully matured. Stingrays will spray water and flap their wing-like fins vigorously to cover themselves with sand, staying hidden throughout most of the day making them hard to see and easy to step on. And even though most of the species that can be found off the coast of Mahahual are harmless to humans, some of them do have venom coated spines on their tails, that can cause symptoms similar to a bee sting, so be sure to keep your eyes wide open for these majestic creatures.
There is an unimaginable amount of unique beings and marine life that you will have the opportunity to see while snorkeling the Mesoamerican Reef off the coast of beautiful Mahahual so stay alert. Once you go back to the shore, fly to our aviary to keep learning about exotic animals, this time with wings instead of fins.