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Impending Doom for the Great Barrier Reef?

One of the great natural wonders of the world, one would think the Great Barrier Reef was permanent. Unfortunately, it is proving to be all to vulnerable to the effects of a changing world.

With the diverse ecosystems that have evolved around coral reefs, it is very important to protect them and keep the areas in balance. In no coral reef area is this more important than in the Great Barrier Reef area near Australia. The largest coral reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is home to over 500 different types of algae, 30 types of sea grasses, 30 species of whale and six different breeding species of sea turtle – and that's just the beginning!

One of the biggest dangers to the Great Barrier Reef is not man-made or caused by man in any way. The Crown-of-thorns starfish is devastating to the coral reef itself, as it is a natural predator of coral. Thought to be native to Australia (but not known for sure), the Crown-of-thorns starfish is thriving at this time because it actually does better in the poor quality water that has begun to infiltrate the area. This starfish also reproduces quickly by laying many eggs at a time, and it's natural predators, the Giant Triton, are being fished for their shells. This leaves the population of starfish unchecked.

Another of the several dangers to the Great Barrier Reef is global warming. While many of the other effects of global warming are much more publicized, this warming trend also affects coral. Many of the types of coral on the Reef are already living at the top end of their temperature tolerance, and some of them have been “bleached” by releasing their photosynthesizing components due to the high temperature of the water. This shows the white exoskeleton of the coral. If the water that causes this bleaching does not lower within a month, the coral will die under these conditions.

Of course, the biggest danger to the Great Barrier Reef comes from man. Chemical and farming runoff, as well as other pollutants, creates an uninhabitable water area around the Reef. This can kill off the coral as well as the other animals and plants that live in the area. Coastal development of the cities around the ocean shore area has also affected the Reef. Our best bet for taking care of the Great Barrier Reef is to watch out for human impact on the area.

Richard Monk is with Facts Monk - a site with facts about everything.

Source: www.a1articles.com