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!
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.
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.
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.
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
– 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.
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.
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.
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).
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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/>
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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>