The marine life at Turneffe Island makes the scuba diving an adventure like no other dive destination in the Caribbean. The vastness and variety of marine life and coral formations are truly unmatched.
The Turneffe Islands have been recognized for over three decades as one of the Caribbean's top destinations for bonefish, tarpon and permit as well as a long list of other saltwater game fish. Saltwater anglers thrill in the challenge of chasing the difficult, prestigious "Grand Slam"- catching a bonefish, permit and tarpon all in one day.
With more than 200 mangrove islands, the atoll is a natural nursery for a wide variety of exotic fish, including the rare Whitespotted Toadfish, which is endemic to Belize. Other types of tropical marine life commonly viewed include eagle rays, playful dolphins, turtles, huge green morays, giant jewfish, nurse sharks, reef sharks, trunkfish, grouper, snapper, permit, and horse-eye jacks.
Investigations have revealed a substantial population of American Crocodile on the atoll, possibly the largest in Belize. There appears to be an endemic snale sub-species on Turneffe, namely Leptophis mexicana hoeversi. The atoll's avifauna, are examined in Raines (1994), including an extensive listing of Osprey nesting sites. Marine habitat data have been collected by CCC (1995). 9 marine habitat types have been identified. Preliminary studies of back lagoons by the UK Natural History Museum have revealed abundant submerged encrusting communities on mangrove prop roots. A list of coral and algae species is provided. Preliminary information on the atoll's vegetation is presented by Stoddart (1962) and Murray. The latter authors expanded on Stoddart's breakdown of vegetation communities, identifying a far greater range than bad been previously thought to exist, including extensive palmetto thicket and savannas, as well as mangrove, beach thicket, cocal, and cave forest previously reported. Populations of Bottle-nosed Dolphins have been studied by researchers from the Marine Mammal Research Programme at Texas A&M University.
PHYSICAL FEATURES & CLIMATE
The Turneffe Atoll area stretches 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. It has often been described as a myriad of different dive destinations all bundled into one.
The 12-acre island is surrounded by one of the most fertile marine ecosystems in the world. The Eastern side of the 30-mile long Atoll is lined with pristine and productive wadeable flats.
A network of flats, creeks, and lagoons dotted by literally hundreds of mangrove islands runs throughout the shallow interior of the Turneffe Atoll. It's home to millions of baitfish, crabs, shrimp, and other small aquatics, serving as the first link in the undersea food chain that supports the most abundant marine life in the Caribbean.
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