Our last destination in Belize was a resort called Blue Marlin in the north of the country.  We lived just a few minutes away from the second largest barrier reef in the world— every day we would spend hours exploring mazes of coral, marveling at all the diversity of life on the reef.  It was really incredible to see how complex these ecosystems are— everything is interconnected and important— even down to the smallest plankton and algae.  Think about it— algae creates food from sunlight, forming the base of the entire food web.  Sea urchins eat excess algae to keep the corals from bleaching.  Territorial Damselfish do the opposite— spreading their waste onto the coral to grow a garden of algae for food.  Coral share sugars with the algae in the core symbiotic relationship of the reef.  Even simple organisms play major roles here.  Everything depends on everything else to survive— one species collapsing leads to entire webs of interactions shifting and potentially failing.  It is a shame that due to climate change we are losing these incredible ecosystems— when all of these  small pieces begin to collapse due to various human caused environmental stressors, eventually the whole structure will topple.  This trip left me thinking about what I can do to help protect these incredible places— reefs are such an important piece of the world to conserve.  They provide a home to thousands of potential undiscovered medicines, protect our coasts from storm damage, are a vital location for fish populations, and are some of the most beautiful places on Earth.  I hope we can save them— with enough dedicated and passionate researchers and conservationists, I know we can make a difference!