The Great Barrier Reef


THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
THE LONGEST LIST OF THE LONGEST STUFF AT THE LONGEST DOMAIN NAME AT LONG LAST

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is one of the natural Seven Wonders of the World. This is because within its 2,600 kilometers and 900 islands lie over 2,900 individual reefs. The Coral Sea just off the coast of Queensland in Australia is the actual home of this natural beauty. This area is so large that it can be seen from outer space and the entire area is made up of tiny living organisms called coral polyps. The area was honored with a World Heritage Site declaration in 1981.

There are many different specimens of fish and wildlife in the Great Barrier Reef. These include thirty different species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises that call the reef their home. Whales are most common during the winter months when they come to the Reef from the Antarctic to mate and give birth. There are two genetically distinct populations of sea turtles in the Reef, one grows in the northern area of the Reef and one grows in the southern area of the Reef. However, there are six different species of sea turtles altogether that call the Reef their home. Although sharks aren’t common in the Reef, the two types most commonly seen are the white tip reef sharks and black tip reef sharks. White tip reef sharks are most likely to be seen lying on the floor of the Reef. Although both types of sharks are fish eaters, human visitors should try to stay out of their way as they can attack when they feel threatened.

One of the most interesting species that live in the Reef is the crown of thorns starfish. These are the largest starfish in the world, with their diameter stretching to as wide as forty centimeters. They can have anywhere from twelve to nineteen arms reaching out from their center and this helps to make them the largest starfish species in the world. These unique starfish bear their name due to the spikes that stretch out from their arms that they use for protection.

There are seventeen different species of sea snakes that live in the Reef. They have low fertility and none are considered at this time to be endangered species. There are also 1,500 species of fish living in the reef including clownfish, red bass, snapper, and coral trout. But it’s not just sea life that exists in and around the Reef. There are also 215 different species of birds that nest and breed around the Reef as well as 2,195 different species of plants.

As for the coral that the Reef is known for, there are over 400 different species of coral. These coral base their mass spawning on the sea temperatures, lunar cycle, and diurnal cycle. Visitors at the Great Barrier Reef often comment that the coral is not as colorful as they thought it would be. This is because white light, which is natural light, is made up of the many different colors one can see in the rainbow. As the water moves over the coral, these colors are filtered and muted so that the coral looks white or a neutral color when being viewed through water. The coral that is seen on television does not look this way because special equipment has been used to show the coral’s true colors. So the color is always present but one can’t always view it with the naked eye.

However, there has been some coral bleaching, especially during the years 1998, 2002, and 2006. This coral bleaching, or simply the fading of color on the coral, took place because of the drastic climate change that has been occurring over the last several years. This climate change is actually the biggest threat to this natural wonder. But continual climate change won’t only change the coral. It will also have a large impact on the amount of sea life that lives there. If the temperature changes too drastically, the fish that call the Reef home may need to move to another area where it is suitable for them to live. This will make it impossible for the many birds that reside around the reef as they count on this fish as their main food source.

Air pollution and other environmental factors also play a part in the different threats to the Reef. The rivers of north Australia flow into the reef and this carries with it much pollution, ninety percent of which comes from Australia farmers. This pollution is especially harmful as it carries much fertilizer, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals. The pollution not only poses a threat to the coral directly but it also causes the crown of thorns starfish to become more of problem. The crown of thorns starfish feed off coral and if an outbreak occurs, it can be devastating to the coral that live in the Reef. These starfish seem to thrive especially more when there is much pollution and poor air quality.

Human visitors are not especially dangerous to the Reef mainly because the Reef is largely protected. There is some fishing allowed on the Reef but not in green national park zones or pink preservation and orange scientific zones. In other areas, fishing is allowed but there are strict Queensland fisheries restrictions. These include closed seasons, catch maximums, and legal sizes. There are also some fish that are completely protected. That is, they are not to be disturbed by humans at all. These include whales, porpoises, dolphins, turtles, clams, female crabs, and all grouper. 


The Great Barrier Reef


The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef

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