Gulf of Honduras

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The Gulf of Honduras is shown in the center-right
The Gulf of Honduras is shown in the center of this map

The Gulf or Bay of Honduras is a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea. It indents the coasts of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. From north to south, it runs for approximately 200 km from Dangriga, Belize, to La Ceiba, Honduras.

The inner Gulf of Honduras is lined by the Belize Barrier Reef. It forms the southern part of the 900 km long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. This is the second-largest coral reef system in the world. The Belize Barrier Reef has a number of small islands. They are called cays, and collectively known as the Pelican Cays.

The Gulf of Honduras contains complex dynamics of coastal and open waters, and ocean currents. These have produced a very diverse and unique ecosystem with a wide variety of coastal marine waters. It includes coastline estuaries, barrier beaches, lagoons, intertidal salt marshes, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, keys and barrier reefs.[1]

The gulf receives the runoff from the watersheds of 12 rivers . They discharge at 1232 m³ s-1.[2] These rivers include the Moho, Sarstún, Río Dulce, Motagua, and Ulúa. Volume of sediment from these rivers is increasing. This damages the marine ecosystem.[2]

Many American anglers visit the Gulf of Honduras to catch the marlin that abound there. Tourists are often taken on boat trips to the Pelican Cays, notably Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye.

In 1961 Hurricane Hattie swept across the Gulf of Honduras. It destroyed buildings in Belize.

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Coordinates: 16°09′05″N 88°15′06″W / 16.1514°N 88.2517°W / 16.1514; -88.2517