A noted marine explorer named Jacques-Yves Cousteau wrote: "It is all strange, unearthly, and yet familiar. Strange because the sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonders forever."
Diving is becoming a much more popular sport as humans become more fascinated with the diverse ecosystems of the deep. Coral reefs, like many of these underwater wonders, are structures built by living organisms. Second only to tropical rain forests in biodiversity, coral reefs provide homes for thousands of species. Unfortunately, they are at risk all around the world.
To promote awareness of the fragile marine ecosystem, CEDAM International - an organization dedicated to conservation, education, diving, and marine research - began the Seven Wonders of the World project in 1989. The message was simple: If underwater wonders are not protected, they will be lost forever. After considering sites around the world, CEDAM chose Palau, the Belize Barrier Reef, the Galapagos Islands, the Northern Red Sea, Lake Baikal, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Deep Sea Vents. Each was selected on the basis of its natural beauty, unique marine life, scientific research value, environmental significance, and whether it is representative of an overall area.
By focusing on these seven sites, CEDAM hopes to promote the protection of all underwater wonders. "We are the first generation to explore the wonders of the underwater world," says George Page, host of the public television series Nature. "Let's hope we are not the last."
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