A kaleidoscope of color, the Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder.
Located in waters off the coast of Queensland, Australia, it boasts a wide variety of life, from soft and hard coral to fish, molluscs, plankton, whales and dolphins.
Attracting tourists from around the world, it also makes a substantial contribution to the country’s economy: Over 5.6 billion Australian dollars (around $3.71 billion) each year, according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, or GBRMPA.
While they may be beautiful to look at, coral reefs act as crucial tools in protecting the environment.
As the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has noted, “the coral reef structure buffers shorelines against waves, storms, and floods” which in turn helps to “prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion.”
All is not well, however, with the GBRMPA describing climate change as “the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs worldwide.”
The past few years have seen a number of challenging developments that highlight the fragility of the reef. In 2017, for instance, scientists in Australia recorded “severe” coral bleaching across large parts of the reef for the second time in 12 months.
At the time, James Cook University (JCU) in Australia said that aerial surveys had shown that the middle third of the reef had seen the most intense bleaching, while in 2016 bleaching had hit the northern third the hardest.
Bleaching takes place when “abnormal”…
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