Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Say Hello to the Great White!

The Great Barrier Reef, just off the coast of Queensland is 2,300kms long, and is even visible from outer space. It is the largest living thing on earth!

 

1Size of reef

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 2016

 

It involves thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands made of more than 600 types of hard and soft corals. It is the home to fish, molluscs, starfish, dolphins, sharks and turtles, as well as the numerous plants.

 

So why are we so desperately trying to protect it?

Coral bleaching! Coral bleaching is the result of global warming.

 

2Reef 3

National Ocean Service 2016

 

The reef becomes stressed from changes in weather conditions, causing it to show up in yellow or completely white patches. If the coral bleaching is so severe, the reef cannot and will not recover.

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 10.56.22 AM

The Huffington Post 2015

 

Almost 93% of the reefs on the Great Barrier Reef have been affected by coral bleaching. According to Slezak (2016), it is the worst coral bleaching that has ever been seen on the face of the earth. It is still seen from outer space, but it is now seen as a long white stripe along the coast of Queensland. 

 

3reef stats

Great Adventures 2016

 

What can we do to protect it?

-Minimise the use of chemical fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals are non-degradable and end up in the Great Barrier Reef

-Dispose of waste appropriately

-Avoid water pollution

-Avoid fishing and the use of fish nets

-Avoid starting a live rock aquarium

-Help reduce pollution (ride a bike, walk, ride on the bus) 

– PLANT A TREE!!

-Spread the word

 

 

The way we act toward the environment depicts just how much coral bleaching we can expect in the future. For more information on how to protect the Great Barrier Reef, click here.

 

5reef fish

Ocean Service 2016

 

Corals begin bleaching when they have experienced warmer water temperatures than normal for a couple of months at a time. Once corals are bleached for a long period of time, they generally cannot recover and they die.

 

Professor Terry Hughes from James Cook University, also the head of National Coral Bleaching Taskforce says that coral bleaching to this extent has never been seen before. He states it’s like ’10 cyclones have come ashore all at once’. Scientists cannot believe the damage the warmer waters are doing and have done to the reef.

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 10.46.16 AM

Earth Education 2016

 

In addition to high temperatures affecting the reef, it isn’t just coral bleaching as a result.

High temperatures lower the ability of corals growing and multiplying.

High temperatures harm the fish that help the coral compete with algae.

Not only this, but carbon emissions acidify the oceans, resulting in a slow growth for the reef and deforming corals.

 

Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. It is also raising the sea levels, which has caused the drowning of many reefs and increased the amount of pollution that is washed into the water.

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 10.53.13 AM

United States Environmental Protection Agency 2016

 

I think it is safe to say, it would be a very wise decision to cut back on our everyday, not-so-needed human activities. Don’t you think?

Click here to watch the video of ‘Loosing Nemo’ by Ang (2016).

 

4Reef nemo

The Guardian 2016

 

REFERENCES

 

Ang, H 2016, Loosing nemo, Aesop Media, Retrieved 21 April 2016 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB9I6UUoo_4>

 

Coral reefs of the tropics 2016, The Nature Conservancy, Retreived 21 April 2016 <http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/coralreefs/ways-to-help-coral-reefs/index.htm>

 

GBRMRA 2016, Facts about the Great Barrier Reef, Australian Government, Retrieved 21 April 2016 < http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/about-the-reef/facts-about-the-great-barrier-reef>

 

Great Barrier Reef facts and information 2016, Great Adventures, Retrieved 21 April 2016 <http://www.greatadventures.com.au/great-barrier-reef-info.html>

 

Great Barrier Reef 2016, University of Minnesota, Retrieved 21 April 2016 <http://lt.umn.edu/earthducation/expedition3/great-barrier-reef/>

 

How to prevent coral bleaching 2016, Ocean Service, Retrieved 21 April 2016 <http://freefishfacts.com/how-to-prevent-coral-bleaching/>

 

Overview of greenhouse gases 2016, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Retrieved 21 April 2016 <https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/co2.html>

 

Readfern, G 2016, Mourning loomis reef – the heart of the great barrier reef’s coral bleaching disaster, The Guardian, Retrieved 21 April 2016 <http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2016/apr/21/mourning-loomis-reef-the-heart-of-the-great-barrier-reefs-coral-bleaching-disaster>

 

Slezak, M 2016, Great barrier reef: new chapter opens in the fight to save natural wonder from mining, The Guardian, Retrieved 21 April 2016 <http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/10/great-barrier-reef-new-chapter-opens-in-the-fight-to-save-natural-wonder-from-mining>

 

What is coral bleaching? 2016, National Ocean Service, Retrieved April 21 2016 < http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_bleach.html>

 

Visser, N 2015, From healthy to dead: How coral bleaching is devastating our oceans, The Huffington Post, Retrieved 21 April 2016 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/healthy-dying-dead-this-is-what-it-looks-like-when-a-reef-is-bleached_us_5660df23e4b08e945feed91a?section=australia>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 comments on “Say Hello to the Great White!

  1. kirstyleemcnamara
    April 24, 2016

    I really enjoyed your post, so many people are unaware of coral bleaching, and more so what causes it. It’s quite heartbreaking to see the once beautiful coral, white and uninhabited. The before and after images really put it all into perspective, when someone mentions the Great Barrier Reef most people think of the tourism posters of the sea turtle swimming over the beautiful, vibrant corals not white skeletons beneath the sea level.

    I understand that once a coral is bleached, there’s no bringing back its colours, however are there any ‘breeding programs’ that you’ve come across? Like an endangered animal that is breed and released back into a population, is it at all possible to do the same with coral? Can the still living coral be harvested and cloned/grown to replace the dead areas that you’re aware of? I completely understand that this isn’t the answer to the problem and that the world still has to do its part to protect the waters, but other than campaigning, what is being done to fix the already damaged?

    Like

    • shenaeryan
      May 7, 2016

      Thank you!

      That’s a really good point you make about ‘breeding programs’. At this stage, as far as my research has taken me, they have not gotten so far and advanced with how it can be put back to it’s old ways. The only things being done so far is trying to avoid it completely. I think it is all a bit of a shock just how bad the reef has actually been affected this time (because it has happened before, but certainly not to this extent).
      Thank you for your comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Connor
    April 28, 2016

    Very informative post, it gives a very clear overview of the challenges and issues the Great Barrier Reef is facing. It is quite frightening to think that the coral in the entire reef could be severely diminished or even outright absent if current climate change trends continue.

    I found recently that scientists working at the Australian Institute of Marine Science have been looking at how they may actually be able to speed up the evolutionary process of corals and the algae which live in the coral tissue so that they may be more resistant to the rising temperatures of ocean waters.

    Like

    • shenaeryan
      May 7, 2016

      Thanks for your comment!
      Wow, I wasn’t aware that they had actually made progress in that direction yet. That’s great news!

      Like

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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