Spanning 2,900km over 2,600 individual pieces of coral and 900 islands, and visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef is a world renowned marvel of nature. It’s a huge part of planet Earth, with Australia’s Gold Coast being a major tourist destination as a result of this beauty decorating the landscape. The reef plays a major role in culture, society, and scientific knowledge, both in Australia and across the world, and is crucial to global ecosystem, and our understanding of it.
With 2,675 known species of fish calling the reef their home, the Great Barrier Reef is a critical part of nature, as a natural habitat to potentially millions of individual animals. Not only that, but the $6.4 billion annual contribution to the Aussie economy and 64,000 local jobs make it a critical part of Australia’s economy too – struth!
But the Great Barrier Reef, despite its huge importance to the environment, economy, and human culture, is at risk. A range of threats including warming water, caused by climate change, water pollution, fishing, extreme weather events, and coastal development, are killing the coral. This is leading to a process known as bleaching, where coral dies, expunging the algae living on its surface, and loses its colour.
There is still hope
But all is not lost. Not by a long way. Coral is naturally resistant, and is able to repair itself, recovering from the worst of adversities – even from damaging tropical storms. If the dangers to the reef are reduced, tackled, and minimised, and the coral protected from any further damage, it is entirely possible that it may still make a full recovery, in time. This would allow it to be enjoyed by future generations, of people, and the fish who rely on it as their habitat!
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation was established in the year 2000, after the United Nations World Heritage Convention encouraged countries with a world heritage site to establish a foundation dedicated to their conservation. The Great Barrier Reef Foundation works with business, Government, and scientists to find enterprising, unique, and exciting solutions to the reef’s problems, all grounded in scientific research and innovation.
The foundation’s passionate hard work has started to yield some genuine success. For example, working with experts in genomics, the foundation was critical in unlocking the genetic code of 9 coral species and their algae, for the very first time. This is an absolutely vital step in developing and deeper and more sophisticated understanding and knowledge of the reef and its responses to a changing climate.
Another significant success was restoring the world’s largest rookery for endangered Green Turtles, through extensive rebuilding and on-ground work. Not only that, but the Foundation was partly responsible for the establishment of the southern ocean’s largest water chemistry observation station, attempting to get full details on the changes to the water that are affecting the reef.
That is just a snapshot of the foundation’s excellent and pro-active work in attempting to safeguard the reef as a vital ecosystem and tourist destination. Thanks to their hard work and technological breakthroughs, the Great Barrier Reef may yet have a bright future.