Science Fact of the Week 12 - The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the largest coral reef in the world, running roughly parallel to the coast of Queensland, Australia, for almost 2,000 km. It consists of 900 islands stretching over an area of approximately 344,400 square km. Australia has almost 1/5th of the world's reef area and most is located in the GBR. Washed by the warm waters of the South-West Pacific Ocean the perfect environment is created for the world's largest collection of corals. The GBR is has been listed by the World Heritage Trust as a protected site and is therefore managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority to ensure that its beauty is maintained for many generations to come. Thousands of visitors come to marvel at the spectacular sight every year.
The waters of the Great Barrier Reef provide the world's richest marine habitats - teeming with exotically coloured fish and diverse marine life. Amongst other things there are approximately 1,500 fish species, 400 coral species, 4,000 mollusc species, 500 species of seaweed, 215 bird species, 16 species of sea snake and 6 species of sea turtle. The corals, which form the framework of the reef, are colonial cnidarians that secrete an exoskeleton of calcium carbonate.