Australia's Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is in the sea.
It is made of coral.
The coral stretches for 2,000 kilometres.
The coral is made by tiny animals called polyps.
The Reef is home to many sea creatures.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest
coral reef in the world. It is 2 000 kilometres long, and is 180 metres high in some places.

It can be seen from outer space, and is considered to be one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World.

What and Where is it?
The Great Barrier Reef is not in fact one single reef, but a system of about 3 000 individual coral reefs and islands stretching from Cape York to Gladstone off the Queensland coast. Coral reefs are also found in other warm Australian waters.

Life on the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef has been built over many years by tiny animals called polyps.

The Reef is home to a huge variety of fish and other sea creatures. Scientists have recorded more than 1,500 species (kinds) of fish living in the Great Barrier Reef.

The Barrier Reef is Protected
The Great Barrier Reef was declared a marine park in 1976, and was listed as a World Heritage site in 1981.

A Living Thing
Like any coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef can be killed because it is made up of living creatures.

Threats to the Great Barrier Reef

Crown of thorns starfish

The crown-of-thorns starfish eats coral polyps. This starfish has always been part of life in a coral reef, but the balance has been tipped because the main natural predator of the starfish, the triton, is greatly prized by humans for its shell. This has resulted in a drop in triton numbers, an increase in the number of starfish and the destruction of very large areas of coral.

 Tourism and Development
Sightseers walking on the reef kill coral.

When the sea is polluted by rubbish and soil is washed into it by excavation of the land near the reef, the coral is affected because it can only grow in clear water.

Ships running aground on the reef or oil spills can destroy large sections of the reef.

More information about the Great Barrier Reef:

Look at photos here

If you use any part of this in your own work, acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, S. & Thomas, R. The Great Barrier Reef [Online], Available: [2003]

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