About The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It is the world’s largest coral reef system. The reef is made up of millions and millions of a tiny organism called coral. It is a place where millions of plants and animals live. Native people in Australia have known about the Reef for thousands of years. It is important in their faith and culture.
Where Is It Located? How Big Is It?
The Great Barrier Reef is in the Coral Sea. It is on the northeast side of Australia. It is less than 100 miles from shore and over 1600 miles long. The Reef is the largest thing on earth made by living organisms. It is so big that it can be seen from outer space. It covers the same space as more than 70 million football fields. It is larger than Italy. The water is not very deep there so it is very warm.
How Was the Great Barrier Reef Formed
The Great Barrier Reef is made of over 2900 small reefs. There are also 900 islands. Small organisms called coral form the reef. They grow there and make the reef with their branches, which turn hard and create a skeleton. The coral grows very slowly. Some kinds only grow a few inches per year. It took over 50,000 years to form the Great Barrier Reef. The corals have many branches and look like an underwater forest. There are many kinds of coral with different shapes. Some of the coral are even brightly colored. The islands in the reef are also made of coral. And much of the sand is made up of broken bits of coral.
Plant and Animal Life
The Great Barrier Reef is in warm ocean water. The skeletons of the little coral make it a great place for plants to grow. The plants are good food for the animals. Fish and other animals can hide in the coral's branches. Thousands of animal species make their home in the Great Barrier Reef. Some are animals that you know, and many that you don’t know. There are clown fish, sea turtles, sea snakes, and jellyfish. There are seahorses, clams, sea grass, and dolphins. There are many different kinds of birds and fish, too. Each plant and animal depends on all of the others. If any of them die, others will be in danger too.
The Great Barrier Reef is also special because it is so lovely. Many people like to visit it and scientists like to study it. Everyone agrees that the reef must be kept safe.
The Reef Is in Danger
Like many places on Earth, the Great Barrier Reef is in danger. The coral are dying off. If the coral die, the whole reef will die and so will the plants and animals.
One problem is dirt in the air and water. Pollution and trash in the water are hurting the coral and the things that live there. We must clean up our seas to save the Great Barrier Reef.
Another problem is from people. Boats can hit the coral and break it off. The coral hurts the boats, too. It can make boats wreck and sink. Careless visitors can step on the coral and break it apart. Most of the Great Barrier Reef has been made into a park to protect it.
The biggest problem is climate change. The water around the Great Barrier Reef is getting warmer. That is killing off the coral. People from all around the world work to protect the Great Barrier Reef from these problems. You can help save the reef by recycling and conserving water and electricity, and being very careful about what you put down your drains, because it all flows back into our seas.