The Great Barrier Reef is the most widely distributed coral reef in the world. It is a huge ridge that lies in the Pacific Ocean off the northern and eastern shores of Australia. It includes nearly 3,000 individual coral reefs.
The Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia’s main attractions, stretches more than 2,500 kilometers on the world map and is the largest natural object in the world that is formed by living organisms. It can easily be seen from space.
Description of the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef consists of miniature coral polyps. In the process of their life they form a huge colony and create calcareous structures, which later become coral reefs.
Thanks to this great coral reef, a huge number of microorganisms living in it sustain life. It is a true wonder of the world, which in the 1980s was included in the famous UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage.
Today, as a result of human economic activity, which includes tourism, the Great Barrier Reef is gradually being destroyed.
According to Australian scientists, it has lost more than half of its coral polyps over the past 30 years.
History of the development of the Great Barrier Reef
This incredible natural object has been known to mankind since ancient times. The Great Barrier Reef was used by the Aboriginal people of Australia and the inhabitants of the islands around the continent and was firmly embedded in their history and culture.
According to scientists, the Barrier Reef in Australia is several million years old. And today there, in the warm, clean and clear sea water, new polyps appear again and again, and young reefs are located on top of old formations.
Formally, the GBR was discovered by the famous British navigator James Cook in 1770, whose ship ran aground at low tide at the location of the Great Barrier Reef. The coming tide soon saved his ship and all his crew.
Ancient people began to develop the Great Barrier Reef in Australia more than 40,000 years ago. Later, at least 10,000 years ago, the ancestors of today’s Australian Aborigines began to live on the islands of the BRB.
In the 18th century European explorers came here, and Australia, along with the Great Barrier Reef, was opened to Europe at that time.
Routes to major trading cities in India and China began to pass through the Torres Strait. In the early 19th century, English navigator Jeffreys was the first person in the world to sail along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
In the 19th century, European scientists began systematic studies of this giant ecosystem and mapped it for the first time. At the same time, pearls and trepangs began to be mined here and exported to London, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Life on the Great Barrier Reef
This vast ecosystem is home to no less than 400 species of coral ranging from red to copper colored. Most species have a hard skeleton, which later becomes the basis of coral islands, but there are also species with soft skeletons.
There are also several hundred species of fish adapted to this particular ecological system, including whale shark, and the greatest enemy of the corals that make up the Great Barrier Reef, the starfish called the crown of thorns.
In these warm and clear waters, many species of whales breed, sea turtles, including. endangered species. The Great Barrier Reef is home to a wide variety of crabs, shrimp, clams, octopus, and squid.
In addition, there are colonies of more than two hundred species of birds. Coral reefs have long been a true home for petrels, phaetons, terns, white-bellied eagles, ospreys and others. But there are not many plants here – only 40 species.
Tourism on the Great Barrier Reef
Today, the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef can be seen with your own eyes, which attracts tourists from all over the world. The entire water area where the BDB is located has been declared a National Marine Park.
Scientists work in the most controlled areas to conduct scientific research. In the less protected areas of the BDB, there is shipping, commercial fishing, tourism, coral trade, etc.
Gas and oil extraction, underwater hunting, and other activities that cause significant harm to this unique ecosystem are strictly prohibited throughout the Great Barrier Reef.
Tourists are only allowed to visit part of the Great Barrier Reef Islands. Some of them are considered to be five-star hotels in terms of comfort, and to visit them is an expensive pleasure.
On the other islands of the Great Barrier Reef you are only allowed to pitch your tent in a certain place. Tourists are not allowed to touch the coral reefs, etc. while underwater viewing this wonder of nature.
The Great Barrier Reef is in danger of extinction
Tropical storms cause significant damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Equally dangerous are “crown of thorns” sea stars, for which coral polyps are food. They cause enormous damage to the reefs in the event of a population surge.
Tourism is another factor that affects coral reefs, because. Any human activity inevitably pollutes the environment, including seawater near the BBR.
As a result of global warming, reefs are bleaching, a problem scientists are now closely studying. They believe the loss of color in corals is due to the death of the algae that grows around them.