One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef.
The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the world’s most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches.
Because of its natural beauty, the Great Barrier Reef has become one of the world’s most sought-after tourist destinations.
A visitor to the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy many experiences including snorkelling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, bare boats (self-sail), glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins.
Great Barrier Reef has over 100 islands, from unique and exotic islands to the Whitsundays and the remarkable Northern Islands.
The islands of the Great Barrier Reef will redefine your idea of paradise.
Scientists in Australia have discovered “horrific” coral bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef, including a 900-mile stretch that has been damaged for consecutive years and will struggle to recover.
“Mass bleaching events twelve months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016,” said Dr Kerry, from James Cook University.
This is the fourth time the Great Barrier Reef has bleached severely – in 1998, 2002, 2016, and now in 2017. Bleached corals are not necessarily dead corals, but in the severe central region we anticipate high levels of coral loss.
The harsh influence of man combined with various cyclical and natural factors have created cause for concern amongst both biologists and conservationist groups who do not want to see this precious natural miracle fall into decline.
One of the contributing factors to the reef’s beauty which is simultaneously one of its greatest weaknesses to threats is the level of utter dependence each part of the ecosystem has on one another.
Some of the largest factors and threats that have influenced the worrisome current conditions that the reef finds itself in include:
- Shipping accidents: Being such a popular destination for cruises and other sightseeing vessels to pass through – as well as a tourism gateway when heading towards other island destinations such as Fiji – the Great Barrier Reef sees a huge amount of ocean traffic pass through its waters every day of the year.
- Oil Spills: Despite the best efforts of government agencies to keep the Great Barrier Reef in the best condition possible, there have been a huge number of oil spills over the last few decades that have directly affected the reef and its marine life. While the act of oil drilling is banned on the reef, spills caused by passing oil container ships have still continued to occur, with the most recently recorded happening in 2010 as the Chinese bulk coal carrier Shen Neng 1 – travelling 10 kilometers outside the regulation shipping lane – struck the reef, scraping along its surface for a substantial length and creating a massive grounding scar over 3 kilometers in length (the longest in recorded history).[the_ad id=’2119′]
- Over-fishing: The fishing industry is second only to tourism in terms of income generation related directly to the Great Barrier Reef, bringing in an annual profit over $1 billion to Australia. While the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has made the majority of areas of the reef off-limits for fishing with an emphasis on reef sustainability, it is still a huge draw-card not only for commercial purposes but for leisure/sports fishing as well.
- Tourist visits: The millions of visitors that the Great Barrier Reef draws every year are also an unintentional contributor to the general decline of the reef. Not only leisure vessels heading out for tours to the reef but also reef-based activities such as reef-walking, using submersibles and even the runoff from various sunscreens are all thought to be contributing negative factors that – when combined with the sheer volume of tourists who frequent the reef – are much more impact than they may seem. This is also not taking into account intentionally or neglectfully destructive practices such as littering and various other forms of man-made pollution.
Also, there are natural threats, such as coral bleaching, water temperature, and climate change.