Biggest Threat To Great Barrier Reef? Climate Change

Climate change is having serious negative effects on the Great Barrier Reef.

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A Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata) atop Acropora coral. Lighthouse, Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef. Via Richard Ling/Wikipedia
John Virata

Climate change remains the greatest threat to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, according to a report released by the Australian government.

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The report, released August 12 says that the overall outlook for the reef is poor and is expected to deteriorate further thanks to climate change.

“Climate change remains the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” the report states. “It is already affecting the Reef and is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the decades to come.”

What the report states confirms what is already known; higher sea temperatures leads to mass coral bleaching and ocean acidification will degrade and restrict coral growth and the survival rates of these organisms.

Other factors that the report states contributes to the decline of the most popular reef in the world include poor water quality from urban runoff, coastal development and illegal fishing.

 Great Barrier Reef Diversity

  • 1625 species of fish, including 1400 coral reef species
  • More than 3000 species of mollusks (shells)
  • 630 species of echinoderm (starfish, sea urchins)
  • 14 breeding species of sea snakes
  • 215 species of birds including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds
  • Six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle
  • 30 species of whales and dolphins
  • One of the world’s most important dugong populations
  • 133 species of sharks and rays

At more than 1,430 miles long, the Great Barrier Reef is the most diverse and largest coral reef in the world. It is home to more than 400 coral species, 1,500 fish, and 4,000 types of mollusk. The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) can also be found in and around the reef. The report was prepared by Australian and Queensland government agencies in conjunction with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The report is available on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website.

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Fish · Lifestyle