[74][75], The unsustainable overfishing of keystone species, such as the giant Triton, can disrupt food chains vital to reef life. The corals could then overgrow the submerged hills, to form the present cays and reefs. These types of reefs are found surrounding Lizard Island as well as far north of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and in the Swain Reefs. The Great Barrier Reef stretches more than 1,600 miles (2,575 kilometers) — a little more than the distance from Boston to Miami. ", "Number of Tourists Visiting The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park", "Understanding Great Barrier Reef visitors preliminary results", "Understanding Tourist Use of the Great Barrier Reef: The Whitsundays Visitor", "Are Coral Reefs Literally Sick of Ecotourists? [44], Saltwater crocodiles live in mangrove and salt marshes on the coast near the reef. [72], Farming fertiliser runoff release nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium into the oceanic ecosystem, these limiting nutrients cause massive algal growth which leads to depletion in oxygen available for other creatures which decreases the biodiversity in the affected areas, altering the species composition. How deep is the Great Barrier Reef? The loss of coral reefs that cause by the rising sea temperatures may cost around USD 1 Trillion. Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. Farming practices damage the reef due to overgrazing, increased run-off of agricultural sediments, nutrients and chemicals including fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides representing a major health risk for the coral and biodiversity of the reefs. Pollution is another concern, as another oil spill occurred in 2010, when the Chinese coal-carrying ship Shen Neng1 ran aground on the reef, leaking a 1.86-mile-long (3 km) ribbon of oil and destroying precious coral and marine life. Cresentic reefs — shaped like crescents as the name implies — are the most common shape of reef in the middle of the system. Aboriginal Australians have been living in the area for at least 40,000 years,[94] and Torres Strait Islanders since about 10,000 years ago. [1][2] CNN labelled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world. [39] Forty-nine species mass spawn, while eighty-four other species spawn elsewhere in their range. Fishing also impacts the reef through increased water pollution from boats, by-catch of unwanted species (such as dolphins and turtles) and habitat destruction from trawling, anchors and nets. [47] Four hundred coral species, both hard corals and soft corals inhabit the reef. Geological Society of Australia Special Publication, Adelaide, pp. Favorite Answer. The 15 species of seagrass found along the reef attract the dugongs and turtles and provide habitats for the fish. According to the Australian Institute of Marine Science and other scientific research, the current reef began to form during the Last Glacial Maximum. 4 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and the Great Barrier Reef. "[19], The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (section 54) demands every five years an Outlook Report on the Reef's health, pressures, and future. Over USD 7 billion per year come to Australia coming from the Great Barrier Reef itself. About 13,000 years ago, the sea level was 200 feet (61 meters) lower than the current level, and corals began to grow around the hills of the coastal plain, which had become continental islands. [120] Although most of these visits are managed in partnership with the marine Tourism industry, there is a concern among the general public that tourism is harmful to the Great Barrier Reef. Potential significant harms have been identified in relation to dredge spoil and the process of churning up the sea floor in the area and exposing it to air: firstly, new research shows the finer particles of dredge spoil can cloud the water and block sunlight, thereby starving sea grass and coral up to distances of 80 km away from the point of origin due to the actions of wind and currents. In 2001, the GBRMPA released a report about the declining water quality in the Great Barrier Reef and detailed the importance of this issue. [52] Five hundred species of marine algae or seaweed live on the reef,[39] including thirteen species of genus Halimeda, which deposit calcareous mounds up to 100 metres (110 yd) wide, creating mini-ecosystems on their surface which have been compared to rainforest cover. The rivers of north eastern Australia pollute the Reef during tropical flood events. The plants are propagated by birds. [24]:133 The most common genera of seagrasses are Halophila and Halodule. The Great Barrier Reef has an average depth of 35 meters (115 feet) inshore while the outer reefs can extend down to depths of more than 2000 meters (6562 feet). [18] The percentage of baby corals being born on the Great Barrier Reef dropped drastically in 2018 and scientists are describing it as the early stage of a "huge natural selection event unfolding". [32][33] In the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, ribbon reefs and deltaic reefs have formed; these structures are not found in the rest of the reef system. Coral bleaching is the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef. Fact: The Great Barrier Reef is composed of over 2,900 individual reef. Coral reefs are found in shallow water, ranging to depths of 60 m. Some examples of the water quality goals outlined by this plan are that by 2013, there will be a 50% reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus loads at the end of catchments and that by 2020, there will be a reduction in sediment load by 20%. [26] The CRC Reef Research Centre estimates the age of the present, living reef structure at 6,000 to 8,000 years old. It was formed during several episodes of quaternary glaciation when sea levels were much lower. Only 40 metres of the reef is under the sea surface. [53], In 1996, most of the tourism in the region was domestically generated and the most popular visiting times were during the Australian winter. These policies are in place to make sure that a marine reserve is only added to the NRSMPA after careful evaluation of different data. 1. Fact: The Great Barrier Reef is greater in size than Tasmania and Victoria combined. [62], Climate change has implications for other forms of reef life—some fish's preferred temperature range leads them to seek new habitat, thus increasing chick mortality in predatory seabirds. Tourism is an important economic activity for the region, generating over AUD$3 billion per year. [53] The Whitsundays and Cairns have their own Plans of Management. [24]:37, The land that formed the substrate of the current Great Barrier Reef was a coastal plain formed from the eroded sediments of the Great Dividing Range with some larger hills (most of which were themselves remnants of older reefs[26] or, in rare cases, volcanoes[24]:26). [107] While protection across the Marine Park was improved, the highly protected zones increased from 4.5% to over 33.3%. [108] At the time, it was the largest Marine Protected Area in the world, although in 2006, the new Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument became the largest. [66], Mining company Queensland Nickel discharged nitrate-laden water into the Great Barrier Reef in 2009 and 2011 – on the later occasion releasing 516 tonnes (508 long tons; 569 short tons) of waste water. Fact: The Great Barrier Reef has over 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 kilometres. After this, a stakeholder working group was formed that worked between several groups as well as the Australian and Queensland governments to update reef goals and objectives. With that in mind, we share eight of the best dive sites in the Great Barrier Reef. These forms of pollution have made the reef less resilient to climate change. [21] The park is managed, in partnership with the Government of Queensland, through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to ensure that it is used in a sustainable manner. — Kim Ann Zimmermann, LiveScience Contributor. [112], On 31 January 2014, the GBRMPA issued a dumping permit that will allow three million cubic metres of sea bed from Abbot Point, north of Bowen, to be transported and unloaded in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The World Heritage Committee asked Environment Minister Greg Hunt to investigate alternative options to dump on land instead. [86] Queensland's "shark control" program killed about 50,000 sharks from 1962 to 2018. [85], In March 2015, the Australian and Queensland's governments formed a plan for the protection and preservation of the reef's universal heritage until 2050. (Ed. The Great Barrier Reef is known for its clear waters, striking marine life, and vibrant coral. Depth: 9m. Typically, such corals peter out in the Great Barrier Reef above 330 … [17] In March 2017, the journal Nature published a paper showing that huge sections of an 800-kilometre (500 mi) stretch in the northern part of the reef had died in the course of 2016 due to high water temperatures, an event that the authors put down to the effects of global climate change. The 2009 report found that 41 out of the 65 actions met their original goals, however, 18 were not progressing well according to evaluation criteria as well as 6 were rated as having unsatisfactory levels of progress. Most occur in the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef and are attached to high islands such as the Whitsunday Islands. Lightening the ship and re-floating it during an incoming tide eventually saved it. Sea level here has not risen significantly in the last 6,000 years. [109], In 2006, a review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act of 1975 recommended are that there should be no further zoning plan changes until 2013, and that every five years, a peer-reviewed outlook report should be published, examining the reef's health, management, and environmental pressures. [106] The rezoning was based on the application of systematic conservation planning techniques, using marxan software. [27] A previously undiscovered reef, 500 meters tall and 1.5 km wide at the base, was found in the northern area in 2020.