Found in the coral sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the most significant ecosystem in the world. The layers of coral reef system have grown in half a million years and now is made up of 2900 reefs and 900 islands that are stretched for over 2300 kilometers. It is a commonly known fact that this is the only animal-made structure that can be seen from space. It is one of the favorite tourist spots in Australia with around millions of visitors every year. But, this natural wonder can face danger during climate change, when ocean temperature rises and causes coral bleaching. There are many other unknown and interesting facts about it that might inspire students to conserve the reef.
Let us take a look at the facts and trivia about the Great Barrier Reef:
1. Although corals are the most important part in the formation of the reef and the main attraction for all the tourists, you can also find a variety of marine life here which includes different species of fish such as shark, whale, dolphin, stingray, etc. You can even see clownfish in the ocean which is similar to the fish in the movie Nemo.
2. Apart from the species as mentioned above, there is another dangerous fish which is a threat to the lagoon, called the sea star. According to Katharina Fabricius, an Ecologist who explores the underwater world, by 2012 the ocean had lost half the reefs due to this fish. In various surveys of the reef, it was discovered that 3.4 percent loss has occurred annually in the past 27 years because of this poisonous starfish. As we have discussed earlier that the climate change and cyclones are responsible for the bleaching, but more than half the damage has been done by the fish. It is not the normal star-shaped fish that we usually see but is known as crown-of-thorns starfish which can grow to three ft. and have some venomous tentacles which cover its body. They are continuously increasing due to the agricultural spills that they get in abundance which further destroys the corals. So, the removal of these starfish is difficult but can be done through corrective measures.
3. In 2016 and 2017, Great Barrier Reef suffered serious bleaching, but scientists noticed that the damage was comparatively less and the recovery was quick in the areas where cool currents were prominent. As the reason for this disaster was heat stress, they decided to treat it with fans. This project costs approx $2.2 million and the trial will be for three years where eight giant fans will float in the ocean.
4. Another threat to the Great Barrier Reef is starfish, which can’t be controlled by fans, so scientists made a tube-shaped robot, called COTSbot to kill these thorn fishes. These machines can identify the crown-of-thorns starfish, target them and kill them with a lethal injection.
5. In 2017, it was confirmed that one blue hole exists in the Great Barrier Reef which is 200 km from the daydream island. A blue hole is referred to as a sinkhole that is formed during the ice age, and now with the time, a cavern is left within. When the blue hole was explored here, they found some amazing surprises like turtles, fishes, and beautiful and largest coral colonies ever seen.
The Great Barrier Reef has always been a great attraction for tourists and explorers from all over the world. And the above-mentioned information only adds more reasons to visit this place once in a lifetime.
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