The Great Barrier Reef

The Ocean Floor is Not a Dance Floor

What is the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the world and the only living thing that can be seen on earth from space. Marine creatures that inhabit the reef include 600 types of soft and hard corals, more than 100 species of jelly fish, 3000 varieties of molluscs, 500 species of worms, 1625 species of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins. The vast expanse of the Reef and the number of marine animals that inhabit it make the Reef one of the most complex natural ecosystems in the world.

Human Effects on the Great Barrier Reef

Climate change, for example, has had great effect on the Reef. Due to what we call bleaching, zooxanthellae that once resided in areas of the Reef have depleted. The primary cause of bleaching is climate change. Because coral reefs can only survive within a very strict temperature bracket, the slightest bit of temperature change can disrupt the delicate balance of the coral reef ecosystem.

Pollution has also made significant impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. Certain model estimates indicate that 22% of the world's coral reefs have been threatened by land-based pollution. This type of pollution includes fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, human derived sewage, and large amounts of sedimentation from costal land development.

We Need This Reef

There are many things about the Great Barrier Reef that make it important for us to protect. For example, the biodiversity of the reef is considered essential for finding new medicines for the 21st century. Many drugs are being developed from coral reef animals and plants to be used as cures for things like cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses, and other diseases.

Healthy reefs also contribute to the economy through tourism. Diving tours, fishing trips, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses based near reef systems provide millions of jobs and billions of dollars all over the world. Not to say that this overexposure of the reefs isn't harmful, but it IS beneficial to humans and the economy that we do our best to protect the reefs and the animals living in them.

Lastly, coral reefs serve as a buffer between shorelines and incoming waves and therefore help to reduce erosion, property damage and loss of life.


By instituting this resort it exploits coral reefs and endangers them further. Snorkeling, diving and boating by tourists can cause direct physical damage to reefs, and fishing and collecting can threaten local survival of endangered species. Resorts like these are also sources of sewage pollution. There is evidence that a very large percentage of the sewage generated by hotels is discharged in coastal waters without proper treatment. Coastal development and the construction and operation of resorts can also increase runoff and sedimentation.
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