The (Once) Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef, at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, is an astounding symbol of life and beauty. Home to thousands of creatures, it is currently under threat of destruction, however, and could ultimately become a representation of how the world can kill a natural-made beauty.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 1,250 miles long and has a larger surface area than all of Great Britain. It is located along the east coast of Australia. Created over 17 million years ago, The Great Barrier Reef is made up of microscopic organisms and skeletons that collectively compose a living fossil called coral .

The Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,500 species of fish, 240 species of mammals and 100 other species. It is also home to 400 species of coral. In 1770, an explorer named Captain James Cook accidentally grounded his ship Endeavour and crashed into the reef. This, like many other events after, took a toll on the reef.

Since 1985, over 50 percent of the coral has either worn down or died. One of the leading causes of destruction to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change. Other issues that contribute to coral loss are coral bleaching, poor water quality, coastal development, and invasive species, such as the Crown of Thorns Starfish. Maintaining the Great Barrier Reef is not only important because it attracts tourists, but also because of its outstanding biodiversity.

Scientists hope to solve this problem by educating others about the importance of the reef. A part of the Great Barrier Reef Legacy plan is to raise enough money to build a state-of-the-art underwater craft to study the leading factors and changes of the reef.

Whether the Great Barrier Reef lives or dies, what happens to it will show how the world can destroy important natural beauties, or how human will can release the tides of decay.

[Sources: ; 100 Great Wonders Of The World ]