Hard corals are found in clear, shallow tropical waters and has contributed to the relatively swift growth of the GreatBarrierReef. The most common type of hard coral found in the GreatBarrierReef is the Staghorn variety, which over time forms limestone casings that become an important building block in the reef’s expansion providing a safe habitat for its many ocean-dwelling creatures to live in.
Once fertilized the bud settles on the ocean floor and the coral starts to develop and grow at a rate of 30 cm per year. As natives of the reef themselves, their mere presence isn’t what causes the damage; it’s the overwhelming numbers that are the leading factor.
Divers explore highly diverse coral reef APO Island marine reserve Philippines Visayans sea | © Artist / Alamo Stock Photo The oceans and seas are incredible things of beauty, with a fascinating mix of underwater gardens and marine life.
The Maldives are made up of 1,200 islands and 26 atolls; the waters feature a beautiful landscape of corals and vibrant array of marine life. Unfortunately, with the warming of the ocean waters, particularly the El Niño weather event of 1998, a majority of coral suffered from heavy bleaching, dying off; however, over the past few years, there have been encouraging signs of recovery.
Located in the South Pacific off the northeast coast of Australia, this double- barrier reef is home to a variety of marine life, many of which are still in the process of being discovered and classified, with the Green turtle and 1,000 fish species already documented. Approximately 1,200 miles long, this reef, which is over 5,000 years old, is home to 300 hard coral species and about 1,200 fish, of which 10 percent are found only in this area.
Bioluminescent seaman surrounded by a halo of reef fish, Raja Am pat, Indonesia | © Howard Chew / Alamo Stock Photo The waters of the Raja Am pat Islands have 450 species of reef -building coral, making it an area with the largest coral reef biodiversity based on its size.
A stunner located in the Coral Triangle, the Wasabi National Park is 1.39 million hectares, and its blue-green water is home to 750 coral reef species out of the world’s 850, making it a spectacular place to explore. A tentative World Heritage Site, this underwater gem is located off the southeast portion of Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Norkeller underwater with fish and corals, North Bay, Lord Howe Island, NSW, Australia | © Suzanne Long / Alamo Stock Photo Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the entire Belize BarrierReef Reserve System was inscribed in 1996.
However, due to man-made or natural causes, it’s not for certain which, over 40 percent of the coral reefs are damaged, making protection efforts that much more important. At 13 miles long, the APO Reef, located in the South China Sea on the Mindoro Strait, is the second-longest continuous coral reef on the planet.
Stoplight parrot fish (Scars virile) at Stove-pipe sponge (Applying archers), Bonfire, Netherlands Antilles | © Helmut Cornell / Alamo Stock Photo Known as ‘The Diver’s Paradise’, the Bonfire Reef is home to a dazzling display of hard and soft corals in bright blues, greens, yellows, purples, and pinks, like an artist’s palette.
The Chimneys feature two coral towers adorned with soft coral in various colors, while the Grand Central Station is known for the plethora of sea life the area attracts, including manta rays, marble rays, hammerhead sharks, and many others. It is one of the most astounding naturalistic wonders of the world just off the north-eastern and eastern coast of Australia in Queensland.
It is the world’s largest coral reef system, even able to be seen from outer space! Queensland may be best known for tourists and residents flocking to its coastline and islands to catch a glimpse of this beautiful reef.
Because these creatures call the GreatBarrierReefcoral home, the reef has become more than just a coral reef system. Everything thrives together within the reef and since the late 1700s when it was first discovered, there has been a lot to learn from this ecosystem.
With such an interesting ecosystem, the GreatBarrierReef is a continuous way to learn about this wonderful reef system. When it comes to how the reef was formed, it is first important to understand what coral is exactly and its overall process.
These living organisms are stony corals and provide the building blocks in which reef formations gain their shape. But considering its enormous size, it’s easy to realize it may weigh quite a bit.
The growth rate of the coral reef is heavily dependent upon the water conditions in which it resides. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but compared to other growth rates, it can be accomplished.
When sea levels began rising, the coral ascended these mountainsides and ultimately ended up fully submerged. This event caused the smaller islands of submerged areas we know today.
Then the process of building up the reef, even more, began to expand outwards. Ecosystems definitely have their checks and balances, but the coral itself needs conditions to maintain its status.
However, humans can do their part in preserving the waters around the GreatBarrierReef corals. From sections with vibrant colors and blues and greens, there are many mystics behind these corals.
Coral cays are small islands formed from sediments from reefs and what they sit on that get swept up by refracted waves. They are the primary source of the Great Barrier Reef as they love shallower waters.
Typically, these formations are found less than 50 meters under the water surface. Sea pens stand vertically with feathered out corals running up a stem, resembling a leaf.
They lack any zooxanthellae at all and solely rely on filtering plankton through the seawater to gain their needed nutrients. The coral systems come in various shapes and sizes, making this unique ecosystem even more thrilling to experience.
The GreatBarrierReef may have aged well, however, in more recent years it has undergone some harsh conditions. This includes overfishing that has caused invasive species like the crown-of-thorn starfish that eat away at the reef.
However, coral bleaching is perhaps the most dangerous of things to occur on the GreatBarrierReef. Coral bleaching is the result of global warming and rising sea temperatures.
While there’s some ugly debate about whether global warming is a thing, the GreatBarrierReef is a direct result from this phenomenon. Just because it has turned white or gray doesn’t necessarily mean its died.
There has been a great portion of the GreatBarrierReefcoral that has undergone this unfortunate event. It is roughly estimated that over 1,000 sections of the GreatBarrierReef were bleached this year, 2020.
That may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to its large size, however, over time, this really adds up to the overall condition of the reef. Ensuring that the coral reefs receive as much sunlight as possible and clear waters is a first step in the efforts to save what’s left of the GreatBarrierReef.
Between the bleaching and other things that threaten this precious reef system, there are portions of the GreatBarrierReef that have died. The truth may be hard to swallow, however, knowing the statistics help people realize the seriousness of the barrier’s fate.
The sunlight helps provide food for these fragile systems, however, when the temperatures of the water rise too much, it is simply too much pressure on these corals. Like stated before, we can make efforts to help reduce the other forms of things that endanger the reef, like overfishing and pollution.
In terms of just how much of the GreatBarrierReef is dead, estimates show half of it are depleted. While it is obviously sad about the portions of the reef that have died and how much time may be left, the GreatBarrierReef has so much to offer.
There are still plenty of sections in Queensland with vibrant coloring that attract many visitors every year. Beaches offer idyllic views into the vast, open ocean as well as their beautiful shorelines.
The beach has a variety of things to do, from fishing to boating to waterspouts to swimming, there is a lot to do. They are found along shorelines all over the world and come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes.