Essay on The Great Barrier Reef

1258 Words 6 Pages
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the wonders of the natural world. It was declared a World Heritage area in 1981 and added to the National Heritage List in 2007. Unfortunately, the Great Barrier Reef faces many threats. Pollution caused by direct or indirect human activities are major threats to Australian reefs. (source 1).
Two million tourists visit the coral reef every year. This is great for the economy; however it can have huge negative impacts on the coral reef. The tourists are carried around the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) by over 500 commercial vessels which drop fuel, anchors and other forms of pollution that damage the reef. The tourists also break the fragile corals by touching and reef walking as well as
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Overexploitation of fish, the use of fishing nets, poison fishing, dynamite fishing and coral harvesting are other threats to the Great Barrier Reef. (Source 1)
According to source 6, the Great Barrier Reef is extremely vulnerable to climate change. For example, an increase in carbon dioxide concentration from 380 ppm to 450 ppm in the atmosphere will increase the sea temperature by one degree which is enough to cause severe coral bleaching. On top of that the sea water will become more acidic and the sea levels will rise, posing more threats to the reef.
Adding to the threats is the crown-of-thorns starfish which was introduced by sailors emptying ballast water into the coral reef. The crown-of-thorns starfish has been destroying coral since 1960. (source 3) As corals die, many animals and plants are losing their habitats causing a drop in the biodiversity of species and population levels. (source 4)
Cyclones and storms are natural events that also have devastating impacts on coral reefs. An example of this is Cyclone Ingrid in 2005 which ripped through about 10% of the Great Barrier Reef lifting many tonnes worth of coral two or three meters in diameter around ‘like marbles’. This caused avalanches of sediment and coral skeletons which smothered everything underneath. Coral reefs take between two to twenty years to recover after storms such as these. (Source 13) The depressing fact is that with the El Nino effect as a result of global
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