The largest coral reef in the world is the Australian great barrier reef, so it is a favorite spot for divers. In fact, the Great Barrier Reef consists of over 2,900 shallow reefs surrounded by coastal islands. Nowhere else is there such a natural ecosystem in which many corals (more than 400 species), fish, including several species of sharks, and sea turtles coexist. The Great Barrier Reef is visible even from space and is that the largest structure created by living organisms. The Great Barrier Reef (BBR) is one of the largest coral reef systems in the world.
The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north of Australia. It consists of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands spanning 2,600 km. Its area is about 344 400 km² (slightly more than France) – this is the world’s largest formation created by living organisms. In the south, it splits into groups of separate reefs, In the north, it is almost continuous and is located just 50 km from the coast of Australia. in some places retreating from the coast by 300 kilometers. It is here that divers from all over the world flock like bees to honey.
The Great Barrier Reef is so large that it can be seen even from space
The reef is made up of billions of coral polyps – tiny microorganisms. Although the underwater world of coral islands attracts many tourists from all over the world, it is significantly defenseless. For example, if the water temperature rises by even one degree, rare algae and coral polyps will begin to die. Therefore, the Australian government has developed special requirements for visiting this area: during an underwater excursion, you cannot touch the reefs with your hands, and you can pitch tents only on specially designated islands.
CNN awarded the Great Barrier Reef the title of one of the wonders of the world, and in 1981 it was recognized as a World Heritage Site.
The most expensive and fashionable resort islands of the Great Barrier Reef are Bedarra and Hyman. Diving can be done on the islands of Heron, Magnetic, and Lizard. As well as Keppel, Hamilton, Fraser, Brampton, islands of Dunk, combine excellent beach vacations, diving, entertainment, and excursions. But this is superfluous
Perhaps the largest number of scientific and educational television programs about the underwater world, articles in periodicals are devoted to the Great Barrier Reef. A unique ecosystem that rightfully belongs to the seven wonders of the underwater world, consisting of islets and coral reefs located in the warm Coral Sea, stretches along the Australian mainland for more than 2,500 kilometers.
At the last count, the Great Barrier Reef is almost 350,000 square kilometers and, fortunately, is constantly growing, it significantly exceeds the territory of many countries of the world. It is worth noting that the overwhelming number of reefs are hidden underwater and open to the eye only during low tide. Some reefs eventually turned into coral islands that amaze travelers with their unique landscape and rich fauna. Thanks to this, UNESCO in 1979 included the National Park, an area of almost 5 million hectares, a well-known list of World Heritage Sites. Naturally, all this beauty and, unfortunately, a very fragile ecosystem, should remain unchanged for descendants.
The Coral Sea is the most important link between the Western Pacific Ocean, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Coral Triangle, located in Southeast Asia. The Coral Sea is the environment through which the interspecies exchange of genetic material takes place through ocean currents carrying spores, larvae, and migratory species. The Coral Sea also plays an important role in the conservation of flora and fauna of the Great Barrier Reef. Oceanic currents flow into the Coral Sea, passing west of Vanuatu and restoring the biocenosis on new reefs.
WHAT WILL BE AFFECTED BY THE PROPOSED REDUCTION OF PROTECTED TERRITORIES?
The Coral Sea is one of the few places in the world where a large-scale conservation area with nearly untouched tropical marine life can be established. In addition, Dr. Daniela Ceccarelli, Marine Ecology Consultant at the Australian Research Council’s Center for Advanced Coral Reef Research, found that the Coral Sea Conservation Areas are “perhaps the only marine ecosystem in tropical latitudes not significantly affected by fisheries in which it is the possible creation of a very large-scale zone and its effective management
THE MOST IMPORTANT BIOLOGICAL LINK
” The Marine Sanctuary within the originally proposed boundaries is the largest conservation area in Australia and one of the few locations in the world in which a marine sanctuary can be established to protect relatively well maintained tropical marine ecosystems. Consequently, the preservation of the Coral Sea is an issue of global importance.
The Marion Plateau is one of the three main ecological zones of the Coral Sea. The creation of a conservation area in the Marion Reef area will improve the protection of coral reefs, sandbanks, and herbivorous fish inhabiting the plateau. It is also important that the Australian Union Marine Reserve in the Coral Sea is the only reserve in Australia that protects tropical ecosystems formed on the shoals.
A government risk assessment found that eight methods of commercial fishing are contrary to the idea of preserving the Coral Sea. However, the new resource management plan for these areas is to allow fishing using these methods in this reserve. Moreover, the scientific community is seriously concerned that the new draft resource management plan provides for a low level of protection for the unique biological niches of the Coral Sea, especially deep-sea trenches, open ocean (pelagic ecosystems), and unique coral reefs.
All major ecological systems in Australia were expected to be part of the marine reserve network. In the opinion of many scientists, the area of protected areas not only cannot be called excessive – it is not enough to preserve biodiversity. According to the Australian Research Council’s Center for Advanced Coral Reef Research, scientists agree that the main biological niches in the southern and western Coral Sea are not being adequately protected.
This opinion is supported by the Australian Marine Science Association and over 300 scientists. The purpose of the recently launched process of redefining the reserve is to reduce the area of protected areas, which the scientific community already assesses as insufficient or inadequate.