Great Barrier Reef - The Traveller


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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef – World’s Largest Coral Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is larger than the Great Wall of China which is visible from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms.

The reef structure is composed and built by billions of tiny organism which are known as coral polyps with over 2,900 single reefs, with 900 islands stretching over 2,300 kilometres across an area of around 344,400 square kilometres.

It is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, in Australia. It supports a wide diversity of life and in 1981 had been selected as a World Heritage Site. Moreover, CNN has also labelled it as one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland.

A major area of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which helps in restraining the impact of human use like fishing and tourism besides other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied with coral bleaching together with cyclic population outbreaks of the crown of thorns starfish.

Breeding Space for Humpback/Whales/Dangerous Species

As per the study done by Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, which was published in October 2012, it is believed that the reef had lost more than half of its coral cover since 1985.

The Great Barrier Reef is a breeding space for humpback whales that have migrated from the Antarctic as well as the habitat of a few dangerous species like the Dugong– Sea Cow and the large Green Sea Turtle.

On closer encounter with its impressive coral garden, it portrays many amazing underwater attractions which include the world’s largest collection of coral, which are over 400 different types of coral, coral sponges, rays, dolphins, molluscs, more than 1500 species of tropical fish, over 200 kinds of birds, about 20 kinds of reptiles which include sea turtles together with giant clams which are over 120 years old.

Home to Diversity of Plants/Lower Animals

This amazing colourful aquatic ecosystem is a home to a diversity of plants and lower animal though it is also frequented by the larger species like dugongs, sharks, besides dolphinsand sea turtles and to protect these biological treasures, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was designated in 1975 which is the world’s largest national marine sanctuary.

Due to its natural beauty both above and below the water, this reef has become the most sought after tourist destination in the world. There were around 820 operators together with 1500 vessels and aircrafts that were permitted to operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to provide easy access to all visitors for the Great Barrier Reef experience and to learn about its natural delights together with the World Heritage values.

The reef had for long been known and used by the Aboriginal Australian as well as the Torre Strait Islanders and is also an important part of their groups and cultures as well as spirituality. Moreover, the reef is a popular destination for tourist, especially in the Whitsunday Islands, and Cairns regions and tourism is an important economic activity for the people of this region, generating revenue of over $3 billion annually.

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