The Great Barrier Reef
Let me tell you something about this natural phenomenon. The Great Barrier Reef is located off the north-eastern coast of Australia and is the largest system of coral reefs on Earth.
This natural phenomenon was created thanks to marine polyps and organisms. Polyps resemble small jellyfish turned upside down. They live in colonies and are very sensitive to temperature changes. Polyps cannot create a reef by themselves, but together with the microorganisms that feed the corals, they can gradually expand.
The Great Barrier Reef from Space
On the map, this coral reef is located off Queensland. It is approximately 2300 kilometres long and almost 150 kilometres wide. Thanks to such a large area, this reef can be seen even from space.
The Great Barrier Reef consists of more than 2,900 different types of coral reefs, approximately 900 islets and a large number of lagoons. This territory is about 3,000 kilometres long and covers more than 20,000 square kilometres in total.
Animals of the Great Barrier Reef
There are up to 1,500 species of fish, unique aquatic mammals, 5,000 species of molluscs and up to 170 species of birds. An interesting animal that can be seen underwater is, for example, dugongs or so-called sea cows. Dugongs are relatives of elephants and are marine mammals that can grow up to 3 meters in length and weigh up to 300 kilograms as adults. They mostly live in small groups, but sometimes they also occur alone. These animals require a water temperature of 20 to 36°C.
Problems with the Great Barrier Reef
In 1981, the Great Barrier Reef was included in the UNESCO reserves. Only until when? Global warming is one of the many problems on earth that we should be dealing with. This has the effect of shrinking the Great Barrier Reef. According to the study, since the end of the 19th century, the air temperature has even increased by up to 0.6°C, which also causes an increase in the temperature in the oceans and seas, which is associated with the gradual malnutrition of the system and the so-called coral bleaching. At the beginning of 2020, scientists recorded the most extensive bleaching of coral communities in the barrier so far. Corals lose the symbiotic algae that provide them with nutrition, without which they die naturally. However, if the situation in the world were to improve, corals have the ability to regenerate to their original state.
Another problem is water pollution with garbage and small plastics. Thousands of aquatic animals die because of plastic bags, which remind them of the jellyfish they feed on, or the animals get entangled in the garbage and die. This problem could be avoided, for example, by recycling waste, or by replacing plastics with more ecological sources.
About the Author
Sarah Gáliková is a Slovak girl with a passion for writing interesting articles and photography. She studied Economics and business, however her true affection is English language. Sarah’s free time mostly consists of nature, great books and a camera.