The Great Barrier Reef

By: Josie Carsten

Environmentalist

Introduction

Without the coral reefs, the balance of the entire oceanic ecosystem will be thrown off. The Great Barrier Reef acts as a barrier between the shore and the ocean. If the reefs are left to die from human impacts, there would be nothing to block organisms from the ocean to come into the shore.

Ecosystem in the Great Barrier Reef

The ecosystem in the Great Barrier Reef is unique. It is the largest natural feature on earth stretching more than 2,300 km along the Queensland coast. It is a collection of about 2,900 individual reefs.

Effects of Human Activity

Human activities are having a big effect on the Great Barrier Reef in a negative way. Coral reef bleaching is caused by the combination effect of increased temperatures, higher UV radiation, sedimentation, reduced lighting levels and salinity changes. Although it is not the only cause of coral reef bleaching, global warming is considered the primary effect because coral reefs can only survive within a very strict temperature. The slightest bit of temperature change can disrupt the delicate balance of the coral reef ecosystem.

Benefits to Humans if we Protect the Great Barrier Reef

Protecting the reef also has benefits such as reef industries contribute approximately $5.4 billion to the Australian economy and support 69,000 jobs.

Further Threats Toward the Great Barrier Reef

A tourist resort could further threaten the Great Barrier Reef. Annual bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef is expected by 2030, if today’s pollution continues. Also, carbon dioxide increase is likely to further limit the ability of the Great Barrier Reef to recover from bleaching.