Varadero Coral Reef Thrives in the Bay of Cartagena

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Varadero Coral Reef Thrives in the Bay of Cartagena

 A debate rages in Colombia, South America about the Varadero Reef.

Taking the Long View


The world of nature has created an amazing reef in the port at Cartagena, Colombia, a coral reef that thrives in an improbable location. It is in one of South America’s busiest harbors. From the water’s surface one can see huge container ships being loaded and unloaded. A scuba diver dives under the water and not very far down he crosses through a layer of contaminated yellowish residue.  Then beyond the ten foot level the water suddenly clears and the diver sees gorgeous, healthy coral.

The really odd thing that puzzles seamen and ocean scientists is that there is a coral reef that seems to defy everything science knows about reefs.  Around the reef is toxic runoff from a canal. The water is so warm that many reefs in other parts of the world would die and become bare bones relics.  The question is, why does the coral in Cartagena grow, not only grow but why is the coral so healthy?  Uniquely the coral grows about twice as fast as similar coral in other places.

varadero coral reef garden

Varadero Coral Reefs – Terra Magazine – Oregon State University

Scientists feel that there is some likelihood that the coral gets plenty of nutrients so that it can carry on photosynthesis.

On the other side of the debate lurk industries that want to dredge through the reef to create an underwater highway right through the richest part of the great coral reef of Cartagena. The contractors want to cut away part of the reef to create a superhighway under the water that would not hinder the activities of the huge cargo ships in the bay. If these speculators have their way they can probably create a significant economic opportunity for the people of the region.

So there it is, the argument of the industrial age, economic acumen for the people vs. nature.

What is most needed in Cartagena is a long term vantage point that comprehends the inestimable value of this reef to the world, a perspective that is spreading through the nearby populace.  Columbia’s Natural Parks authority favors the goal of saving the reef.

Many Columbians support saving the reef by taking the long view that both nature and the people will be treated well by planning for both to thrive through their interdependence and interconnectedness with other living things on the planet.

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All rights reserved. 2018   Rebecca Field






  1. Please correct your spelling. It is Colombia, not Columbia.

    • Thank you so much Laura for pointing out this typo. It is greatly appreciated! All the best 🙂

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