Key Facts about Great Barrier Reef

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New evidence from the Australian Marine Conservation Society revealed that the coral bleaching observed earlier this year in the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef is far worse than expected.

About Great Barrier Reef

  • It is a complex of coral reefs, shoals, and islets in the Pacific Ocean.
  • It is located off the northeastern coast of Australia in the Coral Sea.
  • It is the longest and largest reef complex in the world. It is the largest living structure on Earth.
  • It extends in roughly a northwest-southeast direction for more than 2,300 km, at an offshore distance ranging from 16 to 160 km, and its width ranges from 60 to 250 km. 
  • It has an area of some 350,000 square km.
  • The reef, which is large enough to be visible from space, is made up of nearly 3,000 individual reefs and over 900 islands. 
  • UNESCO declared the Great Barrier Reef a World Heritage Site in 1981.
  • Much of the Great Barrier Reef is a marine protected area, managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority of Australia.
  • Biodiversity:
    • It is estimated that the reef is home to around 2000 species of fish and around 600 different coral species.
    • It is home to 4,000 mollusk species and over 250 different shrimp species.
    • The reef is also home to six of the seven known species of sea turtles, more than a dozen sea snakes, and nearly two dozen species of birds.

Q1: What are Corals?

Corals are marine invertebrates or animals not possessing a spine. Each coral is called a polyp and thousands of such polyps live together to form a colony, which grows when polyps multiply to make copies of themselves. Corals share a symbiotic relationship with single-celled algae called zooxanthellae. The algae provides the coral with food and nutrients, which they make through photosynthesis, using the sun’s light. In turn, the corals give the algae a home and key nutrients. The zooxanthellae also give corals their bright colour.

Source: Ongoing coral bleaching at Great Barrier Reef may be as bad or worse than 2016 event