The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest reef, stretching more than 2,300 km along the northeast coast of Australia. It is made up of about 2,900 unconnected coral reefs and roughly 900 islands.
Experts opine the Great Barrier Reef was formed around 18 million years ago. Due to various climatic and environmental changes, the reefs, which we see today, are those that have grown over the earlier reefs since the last Ice Age.
Why should I be aware of this?
- The Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,500 species of fish and 400 species of coral making it one of the most important marine ecosystems on Earth.
- Scientists consider it Earth's largest living organism which makes it the only individual living thing visible from space.
- TheGreat Barrier Reef could lose 95% of its living coral by 2050 should ocean temperatures increase by the 1.5 degrees Celsius projected by climate scientists.
How does this affect me?
Though Australia is among the world's most developed countries, a damaged Great Barrier Reef would likely have a significant impact on the country's economy. In 2004, it contributed approximately $5.8 billion to the Australian economy and employed about 63,000 people.
All about the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef reef has
- 1,500 species of fish.
- 359 types of hard coral
- One third of the world's soft corals
- 175 bird species
- Six of the world's seven species of threatened marine turtle
- More than 30 species of marine mammals including vulnerable dugongs.
- 5,000 to 8,000 molluscs
- Thousands of different sponges, worms, crustaceans
- 800 species of echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins)
- 215 bird species, of which 29 are seabirds.
- The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage listed site and considered one of the world's greatest natural wonders.
- Some of the largest populations of Dudongs visit the Great Barrier Reef. Dudongs are classified as marine mammals and are related to the elephants.
- 600 continental islands and 350 coral cays are spread throughout the reef.
- That the Great Barrier Reef was declared World Heritage on 26th October 1981.
- The reef stretches from near Fraser Island off the coast of Queensland Australia to the Papua New Guinean coastline.
- Not all coral is hard. In fact some are soft and spongy.
- Sea Turtles do not have a sex when they are laid; the heat of the sand that they are laid in determines their sex. Sand with a temperature of more than 27ºC (80º F) produces more females. Cooler sand produces more males!
- Coral reefs decimated by 2050, Great Barrier Reef's coral 95% dead Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
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