There are few places on Earth as impressive as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It’s one of the world’s most stunning locations, visible even from orbit.
Made comprised of approximately 2,900 separate reefs and countless millions of creatures, it is the largest living structure in the world. The Great Barrier Reef is an absolutely extraordinary ecosystem located just off the coast of Australia.
Unfortunately, recent reports indicate that the Great Barrier Reef is in serious danger. As much as 93% of the Reef has been bleached due to the combined effects of climate change and excessively warm seas.
Andrew Baird, from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said that when bleaching is this severe, it impacts practically all coral species. This includes ancient, slow-growing corals whose comeback might take decades.
In addition, top researchers have found that human-caused climate change is 175 times more likely to trigger this sort of bleaching than natural causes. Global catastrophe may result from the Great Barrier Reef’s destruction.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most intriguing pockets of life on Earth, and its destruction would be a tragedy on many fronts.
There is no larger coral reef system than the Great Barrier Reef. With a total size of over 133,000 square miles, the Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 900 islands and 2,900 reefs. The reef is so massive that it can even be observed from outer space.
It stands alone as the biggest edifice ever constructed entirely from living beings.
It’s home to a vast variety of animals.
While it would be impossible (or at least very difficult) to name every single species found in this reef, some of the more amazing communities include:
There are 30 different kinds of cetaceans.
That’s right, there are six different turtle species!
There are 17 different types of marine snakes.
Amazingly, the Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 1,500 different fish species, or 10% of all known fish species in the world.
More than 600 coral types exist
In reality, coral is the exoskeleton of a marine animal called a coelentera that lives off of drifting marine organisms. More than 600 different kinds of hard and soft coral may be found over the 1,400 miles of the Great Barrier Reef, demonstrating the incredible variety of this ecosystem.
So, you want to know: what is a coral? Polyps are microscopic animals responsible for coral formation; they have a sac-like body with developing tentacles.
The polyps of a coral reef get their rock-like structure from the calcium and carbonate ions in the ocean, which they employ to build a tough skeleton to encase their delicate bodies.
Having a mutually beneficial connection with the algae that share their environment is essential to the polyps’ survival. Algae use the sun’s energy to photosynthesis, which in turn nourishes the coral.
The algae are also responsible for the vivid colours of the corals. In truth, corals are nocturnal, and their polyps only come out of their skeletons at night to grab passing prey.
More than 1,500 different species of fish call the reef home, including colorful clownfish and rare varieties of snapper and coral trout. Other fish and sharks include wrasse, triggerfish, surgeonfish, damselfish, and sharks.
In fact, the bright coral on the reef is home to several species, and many of them use the area as a breeding habitat.
Even while coral reefs thrive best in warm, shallow seas, these are not necessarily in close proximity to land.
When a coral reef stretches parallel to the coast and is isolated from the land by a wide lagoon, it is called a barrier reef. Be prepared to take travel sickness medicines on a windy day, as the boat ride to the diving site can take anything from 45 minutes to two hours for reef visitors.
Unfortunately, climate change is the biggest danger to the reef’s survival. A combination of factors, including pollution and rising water temperatures, makes coral more vulnerable to bleaching and, ultimately, mortality.
Tourists can also play a role by touching the reef and causing damage, leaving trash behind, and polluting the water with sunscreen and other chemicals.
One of the greatest dangers to the fragile reef is pollution of the Indian Ocean, which is on the list alongside global warming as a major hazard.
About 90 percent of the pollution comes from farm run-off, which is carried into the main body of water by rivers draining northeastern Australia. This poisons the algae that feed the reef.
When environmental circumstances shift, corals suffer from bleaching because their polyps eject the algae they need to survive. Since algae are responsible for giving corals their vibrant hues, a reef devoid of algae will seem white and lifeless.
Not all corals will perish instantly, but without their main source of nutrition, they will be at a far higher danger of famine and illness. After bleaching, corals can recover if circumstances are returned to normal and they are not stressed again too quickly.
You’ll be relieved to know that the Australian government and conservation groups are doing everything they can to safeguard the Great Barrier Reef.
Resilient corals may now be cultivated far from the reef using cutting-edge laboratory procedures and then released into the wild once they are mature. Additionally, while tourism may contribute to the issues confronting the reef, it also contributes to their resolution.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s top tourist destinations, drawing in between $5 billion and $6 billion annually from its more than 2 million annual visits.
The greater the number of people who visit the reef, the more money is contributed to reef conservation, and the greater the number of individuals who care about the reef’s survival.
It’s scary, but it’s reality. There has been severe damage to the reef during the past 30 years.
In 2012, researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science discovered that coral bleaching, storm damage, and predatory crown-of-thorns starfish have destroyed half of the reef system since 1985. It’s a waste to let such an important resource go to waste.
Corals are capable of reproducing incredibly quickly under the appropriate conditions, usually after a full moon. The entire colony may act in unison, generating an effect similar to a snowfall by releasing their genetic material into the water all at once.
It is possible for deposits to form on the ocean’s surface as a result of this phenomenon, and they might be seen from After that, new corals can develop. It’s incredible, but it only takes one polyp to seed a whole new reef.
One may assume that the summer is the best season to visit the reef, but that’s not necessarily the case. It’s possible that the stingers, in addition to the heat, might discourage a summer visit.
From November through May, stinger season is in full swing, and you may need to swim exclusively in enclosed pools or wear a stinger suit. Don’t worry however!
Even though it’s colder in the winter, the air and water are still comfortable, and you won’t have to worry with nasty jellyfish.