Great Barrier Reef

The world’s largest coral reef system is the Great Barrier Reef. There are over 900 coral islands and 2,900 individual coral reefs spanning 2,300 kilometers. Coral reefs are located in the Coral Sea on the Queensland coast of Australia. It was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1981. The structure of this reef, known as coral polyps, is made up of billions of small creatures built by coral polyps and supports a variety of life.

Highlights

In the month of June 2021, the World Heritage Committee proposed adding the Great Barrier Reef to the list of dangers. Coral reefs are getting international help to save them. Many of the coral reefs are protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps limit the impact of tourism and fishing. Other environmental pressures on coral reefs and their ecosystems include spills, climate change with large amounts of coral bleaching, dredging sludge dumping, and periodic population eruptions of crown-of-thorns starfish. Coral reefs lost more than half of their coral coverage between the years 1995 and 2017, and the effects of widespread bleaching events are still unaffected, according to a study published in the year 2012 by the minutes of the National Academy of Sciences since 1985.

Geography of the reef

The Great Barrier Reef stretches from Lady Elliot Island in the south to the Torres Strait in the north. 25 million years ago, the northern Queensland region was located in warm waters that didn’t support coral growth. Into seventy bioregions, thirty of which are reef bioregions, Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is divided. In the Great Barrier Reef’s northern part, delta reefs and ribbon reefs are formed. These structures are not present in the rest of the reef. In the year 2020, a previously undiscovered coral reef which is 1.5 km wide and 500 meters high was discovered in the northern region.

Geology of the reef

The foundation, or platform, on which the Great Barrier Reef is located is 600,000 years old. However, the present and living structures began to grow 20,000 years ago. This was during the last ice age. At that time, sea level was 120 meters lower than today. As sea levels rose, the corals got higher.

Environmental threats face by the reef

The main threats to the Great Barrier Reef are climate change, pollution and fishing. Other threats are ship accidents, oil spills and tropical cyclones. Corals are also affected by skeletal erosion, a disease which is caused by protozoa. Since the year 1985, the reef has lost two-thirds or more of its corals.

Other threats

The Great Barrier Reef also suffered from eutrophication, loss of coastal wetlands, pesticides, sediment runoff and mine pollution. Spiny-crowned starfish are eating the coral polyps. A massive outbreak of this starfish in the year 2000 killed more than 66% of living coral polyps. Thorn star fish eruptions occur in their natural cycle due to poor water quality and overfishing by predators.

What is Great Barrier Reef bleaching?

The bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef is poorly documented. Coral bleaching is caused by heat waves in the ocean. Previously, coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef occurred in the year 2002, 1998, 2016, 2006, 2020 and 2017.

Conservation Initiatives

The Global Initiative to Save the Great Barrier Reef is the International Coral Reef Initiative, an informal partnership established by an international coral reef conservation organization. The objective is to implement the 10-year Strategic Planning Goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COD). The Global Reef Alliance also works to protect the reef.

The G20 and India’s initiatives, the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and the Global Coral Reef R & D Accelerator Program, are part of this conservation initiative. The aim is to create a global R & D program to protect corals.

What is Reef 2050 Plan?

Queensland and the Australian Government formulated this plan. The plan is to preserve and protect coral reefs within a period of 35 years. This is a long-term sustainability program that includes reef restoration, water quality improvement, and starfish killing. However, the real cause of the problem, climate change, is not taken into account. In the year 2018, approximately $ 443 million was allocated for the plan.

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