The phenomenal ‘Great Barrier Reef’ that stands as an icon of Australia’s natural heritage is the largest coral reef in the world. The thriving reef spans nearly 344,000 sq.km of area & runs as long as 2,300 km. The reef is located in the Coral Sea off the Queensland’s harbor. Nearly 900 islands & 2900 discrete reefs constitute the ‘Great Barrier Reef’.
The ‘Great Barrier Reef’ has been universally honored by listing it as one of the New Seven Wonders in the world. This exquisite creation of the nature was also included in the list of the World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO. The reef system is surrounded by a bevy of interesting facts; let’s have a look at a few of them!
- As per the research verdicts of the CRC Reef Research Center, the estimated age of the current reef structure is around 6,000 to 8,000 years.
- It is believed that the ‘Great Barrier Reef’ was first discovered by the French Admiral Louis de Bougainville during his expedition in 1768, although he didn’t officially notify the French government about its existence.
- The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was founded in the year 1975 following the announcement made by the ‘Great Barrier Reef Marine Act’.
- The ‘Great Barrier Reef Marine Park’ occupies the area greater than the collective size of the Australian states of ‘Tasmania’ & ‘Victoria’.
- Tourism is the most important source of income for this region. Due to its global popularity, a wide range of tourists makes a trip to the marine park & get enthralled with the exotic beauty of the underwater world of the flourishing coral colonies. The tourism in the ‘Great Barrier Reef’ is worth 3 billion Australian dollars.
- The fishery industry in the region around the ‘Great Barrier Reef’ fetches approximately a billion Australian dollars & provides an employment to more than 2,000 people.
- The length of the reef structure is greater than the ‘Great Wall of China’ & it is said that the reef is the only living thing on the planet that can be viewed even from the space.
- The coral reefs require specific conditions for their growth. The mild water temperature, depth up to 150 meters & plenty of sunlight are the things, which are necessary for the survival of the healthy coral life.
- Every year, the corals grow up to 3 cm in diameter & 25 cm in height.
- The reef system provides shelter to six turtle species, including Flatback turtle, olive Ridley, Hawkbill sea turtle, Loggerhead sea turtle, Leatherback sea turtle & green sea turtles.
- The reef system consists of as many as 5,000 mollusks.
- Of late, the exotic coral life in the ‘Great Barrier Reef’ has been threatened by several calamities, including excessive fishing, rising pollution & the brisk changes in the climate.
- A massive oil carrier- Shen Neng 1 sank near the Douglas Shoals on 3rd April 2010. The mishap caused the spilling of around 4 tons of oil that spread over the reef, due to which, a large part of the reef was heavily damaged.
- A disease called the Skeletal Eroding Band, caused by a type of protozoan has affected nearly 31 coral species, of which Bony Corals were badly hampered.
- Australia’s native tribes are allowed to hunt the green turtles for their personal & non-commercial purpose.
- The official US journal- the National Academy of Sciences has mentioned that since 1985, the ‘Great Barrier Reef’ has lost more than half of the its coral cover, which is definitely not the great news for the future of this magnificent creation of the nature!