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-  High above the reef  (© F. M. Kearney/plainpicture)

If we could dip down below those happy little clouds, we’d be on the bright blue waters of the Caribbean. And if we could dip down farther, below the surf, we’d be greeted by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef on Earth (after the Great Barrier Reef). This barrier reef system stretches for nearly 700 miles, from the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras. It’s home to one of the world’s largest manatee populations, and also to a fair number of the world’s largest fish: the whale shark.