I was scuba diving in Mexico in the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, a 27.5-square-mile ecosystem with an unusual history and an uncertain future. At least 226 fish species live in the park, and it is home to the only living hard coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. But environmentalists fear that a major resort development could significantly alter this delicate fringe of Baja, both above ground and underwater.

Though I had been visiting the region for 15 years, I’d never been scuba diving in this spot. I was finally motivated to take the plunge because of the threat of impending damage. Today Cabo Pulmo remains hard to reach and full of sea life, but in a few years, the reverse could be true.

Photo Credit: Baby sea turtles on the shore near Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur. Gulf Program CMBC / Flickr