The Great Barrier Reef In Australia

3527 words - 15 pages

COUNTRY Australia - QueenslandNAME Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (includes Great Barrier Reef Marine Park)IUCN MANAGEMENT CATEGORYV (Protected Landscape)Natural World Heritage Site - Criteria i, ii, iii, ivBIOGEOGRAPHICAL PROVINCE 6.01.01 (Queensland Coastal)GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area extends for more than 2,000km off the east coast of Australia, from just south of the Tropic of Capricorn to the coastal waters of Papua New Guinea 24'N-10'S, 145'-154'E.DATE AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 provides for the establishment, control, care and development of a Marine Park covering 98.5% of the Great Barrier Reef ...view middle of the document...

LAND TENURE The Coastal Waters (State Title) Act 1980 (Commonwealth of Australia) vested title to the seabed inside the outer limits of the three-mile territorial sea in the State of Queensland, subject to a number of reservations including, in particular, the continuing operation of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975. Exclusive rights to explore and exploit the seabed of the Continental Shelf beyond the territorial sea are vested in the Commonwealth (Federal Government) subject to certain limited rights conferred on third parties. Within the limits of the State of Queensland, public title is vested in the State of Queensland, apart frompublic lands owned by the Commonwealth. Some land is held by private persons (Kelleher et al., 1989).ALTITUDE Below sea-level generally to 40m. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 applies to activities occuring from 1,000m below the sea bed to an altitiude of 915m above sea level.PHYSICAL FEATURES Includes the world's most extensive stretch of coral reef. The reef system, extending to Papua New Guinea, comprises some 3,400 individual reefs, including 760 fringing reefs, which range in size from under 1ha to over 10,000ha and vary in shape to provide the most spectacular marine scenery on earth. There are approximately 300 coral cays, including 213 unvegetated cays, 43 vegetated cays and 44 low wooded islands. There are also 618 continental islands which were once part of the mainland (GBRMPA, pers. comm., 1995).The form and structure of the individual reefs show great variety. Two main classes may be defined: platform or patch reefs, resulting from radial growth; and wall reefs, resulting from elongated growth, often in areas of strong water currents. There are also many fringing reefs where the reef growth is established on subtidal rock of the mainland coast or continental islands (Kelleher et al., 1989).Capricorn-Bunker Group National Park (Queensland State) encompasses a terrestrial section and consists of four islands: Fairfax Island, a coral cay consisting of two small islands on an egg-shaped reef; Hoskyn Island similar to Fairfax, though not a cay; Heron Island, sand and broken coral on coral and rock formation; and Lady Musgrave Island, a cay surrounded by extensive coral reefs.Water circulation is very complex, governed by properties of the Coral Sea, land run-off, evaporation, the south-east trade winds, forced upwellings due to strong tidal currents in narrow reef passages and coastal waters including mangroves. Tides are generally semi-diurnal with diurnal inequality towards the north, becoming almost diurnal in Torres Strait. The maximum tidal range is about 3m along most of the coast, although increasing to 6 to 9m in the Broad Sound area between 21 and 23癝. Water is vertically well-mixed for most of the year with stratification occurring due to freshwater input during January to April. Freshwater run-off can be very localised and significant physical and biological effects...

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