The Great Barrier Reef is the largest and most complex reef system in the world and one of the most complex and biodiverse natural systems on Earth. The Reef covers an area of 344 400 square kilometres. It is made up of thousands of individual coral reefs and hundreds of island and coral cays. The reef has over 1500 species of fish, 400 species of coral, 4000 species of mollusc, 800 species of echinoderm and 240 species of birds. It stretches more than 2000 km along the North-East coast of Australia and is one of the only natural structures that can be seen from the moon.
It has waters with alluring hues of turquoise and aqua marine, an undersea world of colours that artists only ever ...view middle of the document...
These are the basis for the great variety of sea and animal life in the reef.
Coral consists of individual coral polyps (tiny live creatures which join together to form colonies). Each polyp lives inside a shell of aragonite, a type of calcium carbonate which is the hard shell we recognize as coral. The polyps join together to create forests of coloured coral in interesting fan, antler, brain and plate shapes.
There are many different types of coral, some are slow growing and live to be hundreds of years old, others are faster growing.
The colours of coral are created by algae. Only live coral is coloured. Dead coral is white.
One of the greatest dangers to the habitat is the Crown Of Thorns starfish. Since the 1960s, the Crown Of Thorns has been destroying the corals which make up the reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is located in the Coral Sea. It extends for some 2300 km along the North Eastern coast of Australia from a point level with the tip of the York peninsula on the Torres Strait to just south of the
Tropic of Capricorn. It extends beyond the low water mark 60 to 290km from the coast.
The Great Barrier Reef has a tropical climate. It has average temperatures in Summer of 24 and 33 degrees Celsius. In Winter, the average temperatures range between 14 to 26 degrees. Being a wet tropic climate. There are 2 seasons, “the green” and “the dry”. The region averages 300 days of sunshine per year. However, the water is warm enough to swim in all year round.
Increased temperature is just one of many effects of climate change on the reef. The other environmental changes predicted suggest there will be additional impacts, some may have severe consequences.
According to a “Special Report – by Liz Minchin” The Great Barrier Reef will become functionally extinct within decades at the current rate of global warming, while wilder weather is set to affect property values and drive up insurance bills in many Australian coastal communities.
The Great Barrier Reef abounds with wildlife. Including dugong and green turtles. A variety of dolphins and whales. There are recorded some 1500 species of fish, including 49 pipefish...