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Great Barrier Reef Facts

The Great Barrier Reef is famed for its large biodiversity, which includes an estimated 1,500 species of fish, over 36- species of hard, reef-building corals, and more than 4,000 mollusc species.

The Great Barrier Reef is famed for its large biodiversity, which includes an estimated 1,500 species of fish, over 36- species of hard, reef-building corals, and more than 4,000 mollusc species. (View larger version)

Photograph by National Geographic Channels/ Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)/ David Wachenfeld

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  • The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2300 kilometres (1429 miles), and covers an area roughly equivalent to the size of Japan, making it visible from outer space. Its current form is between 6,000 to 8,000 years old.

  • A common misunderstanding is that the Great Barrier Reef is just one reef. It is not. In fact, it is made up of 3000 individual reefs.

  • The Great Barrier Reef is famed for its biodiversity, and is home to 1625 species of fish, 600 different soft and hard corals, 3000 kinds of molluscs, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, as well as many more.

  • The Reef is home to six of the world’s seven species of turtles – Loggerhead, Leatherback, Olive Ridley, Green, Flatback, and Hawksbill turtles. The only species not found in the Great Barrier Reef is the Kemp’s Ridley turtle, which is primarily found in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • UNESCO designated the Great Barrier Reef a World Heritage Site in 1981.

  • In June 2012, UNESCO warned the Australian Government that rapid coastal development could endanger the Great Barrier Reef and put it on its list of World Heritage sites ‘in danger’ if more was not done to improve conditions in the area.

  • The Great Barrier Reef is faced with natural and man-made threats everyday. These include, but are not restricted to increased shipping, port and coastal development, agricultural run-off, climate change and coral bleaching.

  • In October 2012, reports emerged that scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) had discovered that the Great Barrier Reef lost most than half of its coral cover in the last 3 decades. The loss of coral has been attributed to cyclone damage, coral bleaching, and the predatory crown-of-thorns starfish. If current trends continue, coral cover in the area could further halve by 2022.

  • On April 3, 2010, the Chinese coal carrier, Shen Neng 1, ran aground the Reef near the Great Keppel Island, resulting in 4 tonnes of heavy fuel oil spill.

  • Up to 2 million people visit the Great Barrier Reef every year, generating some $6 billion dollars in tourism revenue for Australia.
1 comments
Charlize Barnett
Charlize Barnett

Provided very good information about the barrier reef. It made me think about all the different kinds of animals and plants that are on the ocean floor.