One of the world's largest coral reef systems, the Great Barrier Reef is located off the coast of Queensland, which is located in the northeastern region of Australia. It is home to a wide variety of organisms that live in the deep blue waters. The aquatic life that is seen out here is mind-boggling, from the whales to the dolphins, sea turtles, sea snakes, etc. The reef is composed of many individual reefs, which one can say are around 2,900 in number. This is also the world's only structure that is composed of living organisms. Being one of Nature's wonders, one would think that consistent efforts would be made to preserve such a structure. Unfortunately, there are many threats to the Great Barrier Reef. These threats would also mean an endangerment of many species. Being a part of the ecosystem, all the living organisms are interdependent on each other. Humans are yet to learn and respect this fact. The following sections list out the various threats to the Great Barrier Reef caused by humans.
Around one-third of the Great Barrier Reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which prohibits fishing without any prior documentation. Still, overfishing of certain species of fish continues, and has created plenty of problems. It causes a complete imbalance in the food chain and the ecosystem. Overfishing of the herbivore species gives rise to algal growth on the reef.
Due to industrialization and various activities carried out by humans, the ocean waters all over the world are facing the consequences of pollution. There are many issues that affect the quality of the water, which in turn affects the living organisms, and everything connected with the Great Barrier Reef. Therefore, pollution is considered to be one of the largest threats to the reef. Poor water quality has propelled around 300 reefs in the danger zone. Dumping of the industrial waste has worsened the condition. Polluted water has an adverse effect on the corals. Industrial pollutants such as copper are known to interfere with the growth and development of the coral polyps, which are so important for the Great Barrier Reef.
Climatic Conditions and Global Warming
The effects of global warming and the varied changes in the climatic conditions can be witnessed by everybody today. As the temperatures keep soaring, the Earth is getting warmer, which in turn is likely to affect many species in many ways. A rise in the temperature is known to affect the coral reefs. This results in coral bleaching every year. For example, a particular species of fish may prefer to move to other areas in search of a suitable climate. This would cause a major change in the ecosystem and the existence of the organisms associated with the Great Barrier Reef. Habitat changes cause many organisms to move to other areas, which might again have an adverse effect on the Reef.
Various Shipping Routes
Shipping also poses a threat. Many commercial ships follow routes that pass through the reef. Despite the fact that many tragic shipping accidents have occurred in this region due to difficult climatic conditions, people navigate ships through the reef. Besides, all the waste that is discharged from these ships, causes a threat to the living organisms that are required for the existence of the reef.
The various activities carried out by humans have affected our planet in more ways than we can imagine. It is time that each of us contributes towards protecting the environment. Here's hoping that steps would be taken to protect the Great Barrier Reef at the earliest.