The great barrier reef that harbours a substantial amount of aquatic life is under threat from climate change and a careless disregard for the environment.
As one of the one of the seven wonders of the world and being the largest living organism on this planet, the great coral barrier reef is home to many symbiotic organism who live in harmony with this reef.
However, the symbiotic organisms that coexist with the reef have recently come under rapid threat from global warming along with other seriously destructive environmental factors.
With that in mind here is a list of five effects that global warming and the environment’s destruction has on the coral reef and ways you can actually help sustain the reef for the future:
1) Temperature Determined Biological Gender
Whereas as most genetically determined biological sex happens during the fertilization process for the majority of Earth’s creatures, for animals like turtles, crocodiles and alligators, sex is determined post-fertilization.
This process of biological sex determination is often called temperature-dependent sex determination (or TDS) and it’ starting to affect turtles living in the great barrier reef. Hence recent studies found one of the largest turtle colonies living in the Pacific Sea to have over 99% of its hatchling population ending up as female. This means that turtle colonies nested along the great barrier reef could fail to repopulate themselves as there are no male turtles to be found during the mating seasons.
2) Tourism to the reef
According to the Australian government 2 million people visit the great barrier reef each year and it is feared that this intensive amount of tourism could be harming the fragile reef environment. Tourism presents a lot of problems to the reef as people want to explore the reef and all its inhabitants, however they often invade the homes of the creatures living in the reef and ultimately disturb this natural habitats of nautical sea life. Tourists can also leave massive amounts of rubbish that harms underwater life by further polluting the environment.
3) Oil Spills
No matter where oil spills occur they still pose a massive existential threat to any life living in the area at the time of the spillage. Thus the coral reef barrier itself has come under great threats many times from oil spills, and one of the most recent spills was in July 2015 when an oil slick around 1 km in length was carelessly draped across the coral reef by an unknown source. As a result much of the living inhabits of the coral reef were harmed in the process, so it is imperative that we must diligently attempt to keep the reef clean and oil free.
4) Extensive damage to the reef
One quarter of the reef is already damaged beyond repair with a further 2 thirds of the coral reef under a serious threat from danger. The organisation WWF further notes that this threat of danger has mainly been caused by: excessive fishing, pollution, sedimentation and coral reef mining as well as some of the issues that have already been previously discussed here such as: careless tourism and climate change.
5) What can you personally do to help the reef?
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation in Australia is a charity that aims to protect and preserve the reef and the underwater sea life who inhabit it. You can either support the great reef barrier foundation through direct donations or through retail sites that are in partnership with the great barrier reef foundation to avoid the further destruction of the reef.
Robert Lovell is a writer and editor with a love of wildlife and a passion for environmentalism. He is based in the north of England but loves to travel.