This book brings alive the richly diverse world of an underwater paradise: the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Stretching 625 miles through the Caribbean Sea along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, this reef is the second largest coral structure on the planet. Imperiled Reef searches out the breathtaking intricacies of this endangered ecological treasure.
Sandy Sheehy describes in eloquent detail the hard and soft corals, sponges, and myriad marine creatures – from sea turtles to jellyfish to dolphins – that interact to form a delicately balanced interdependent ecosystem, as well as the culturally diverse human communities that depend on them. She explores the work of marine biologists, oceanographers, and ecologists who have devoted their lives to studying this unique environment.
Research shows that the future of the reef is at risk, Sheehy explains. Looking closely at threats ranging from global warming to overfishing to irresponsible development, Sheehy draws attention to the inspiring efforts of nongovernmental agencies, scientists, and local communities who are working together to address these challenges. She includes practical actions individuals can take to protect this reef – as well as marine ecosystems everywhere.
Celebrating a vast, submerged landscape that has too often been undervalued, Imperiled Reef is both a strong case for protecting an international marvel and a powerful message of hope for the world's oceans.
Sandy Sheehy is a journalist who has dived the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef for four decades. She is the author of Texas Big Rich: Exploits, Eccentricities, and Fabulous Fortunes Won and Lost and Connecting: The Enduring Power of Female Friendship.
"[An] impassioned study [...] There is much to savor in Sheehy's paean to a unique ecosystem."
– Publishers Weekly
"Takes us on a fascinating journey through the unfolding crisis on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, and by extension the world's oceans and climate. Sheehy possesses a deep knowledge of reef biodiversity and the ability to clearly convey not only the complicated challenges but also the concrete steps that can be taken to ensure healthy ocean ecosystems for future generations."
– Deb Castellana, director of strategic partnerships, Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance
"Australia's Great Barrier Reef often hogs the spotlight, but as Sheehy's book shows, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef fringing the tropical Atlantic coast of the Americas is no less remarkable. You'll meet the corals that build it and the charismatic creatures that call it home and make it function. Equally important, you'll get to know the people dedicating their lives to the reef and learn what you can do to help it thrive."
– Nancy Knowlton, author of Citizens of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures from the Census of Marine Life
"It is delightful to see decades of science and conservation work in the Mesoamerican Reef being highlighted in this informative yet entertaining book, with so many great interviews from the field – where the real conservation happens."
– Melanie McField, director, Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative
"Highlights an iconic place and the people who care for it even in the face of frightening challenges. May the continued commitment and innovation of these heroes serve as an example for others who are struggling to protect what is still intact and restore what has been lost."
– Stephen Gittings, science coordinator, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries