The Bar Reef is a large patch reef off Kalpitiya, on the northwest coast of Sri Lanka. In 1992 the Bar Reef Marine Sanctuary was established covering an area of 306 square kilometers that included shallow patch reefs, deep sandstone reefs and seagrass beds. For many years the reefs remained in a near pristine state due to the small human population and very limited fishing in the area. And although the shallow coral patches were completely destroyed by a largescale coral bleaching event in 1998, many of the corals have since recovered, as can be seen from these pictures taken in February 2007. However the last five years have seen a rapid increase in fishing within the sanctuary including the use of dynamite and illegal nets. The recent popularity of the Kalpitiya area among tourist has also resulted in boat anchoring and reef walking which are destroying the fragile reef. Unfortunately, the relevant authorities have shown little interest in managing this unique marine region, and destructive activities continue to increase. The Bar Reef is an important part of Sri Lanka's natural heritage that should be experienced by future generations and not seen only through historical photographs.
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