Floating Above Mexico’s Great Mayan Reef

By   November 6, 2016

Hardshell Labs’ philosophy includes the idea that all of us need to get outside and explore our beautiful, one-of-kind planet. Less than a week ago this was me! I flew submerged over the second largest reef on the planet, the Great Mayan Reef! In case you can’t tell, I’m the one in the foreground with the cavefish-white skin 😉

In addition to lots of beautiful coral forests and sea fans, I saw many Stoplight Parrot Fish, a juvenile Grouper, and a Nurse shark which swam directly under me  —  within 10′ of my reach.

Hardshell co-founder Mike Austin

Hardshell co-founder Mike Austin

You can tell the day was overcast, but it was still especially beautiful. It even rained some during our snorkeling. It’s a very different experience for a land-lubber like me to raise their head above the surface and see a fairly heavy rain rebounding from the ocean’s surface. Above the surface the rain reduced the visibility by 80%.

Hardshell volunteer Laila Selk

Hardshell volunteer Laila Selk exploring the Great Mayan Reef during a brief downpouring of rain

Representatives of the national park, Parque Nacional Arrecife de Puerto Morelos, also collect USD$ 5 per nose to cover conservation efforts.

Great Mayan Reef coral

Great Mayan Reef coral

Our adventure guides, The Original Snorkeling Adventure, made it a point to inspect everyone’s sunscreens to ensure they were composed of safe, natural products. The chemicals in most sunscreens are especially dangerous to reef ecosystems. In human bloodstreams, chemicals in concentrations as low as 0.035 parts per billion can cause endocrine disruptions. That’s less than the equivalent of 1 pancake in a stack of them 4,000 miles tall. All animals, including fish, turtles, and coral will share very similar sensitivities.