Corals and their threats in the Great Barrier Reef

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What is a Reef?

It is a multi-dimensional, hard substrate, structural habitat lying beneath water.

A biogenic reef is created by living organisms. These organisms are called ecosystem engineers. They interact directly by accruing resources to other species of corals causing physical state changes in the biotic or abiotic materials.

Hexacorals: Hexacorals are hard corals that make the majority of the reef. They face many threats similar to the octocorals and other reef corals.

The octocorals are a soft coral with a jelly-like feel and often resemble plants.

Common Threats

  • Climate change: Natural disasters like hurricanes caused by weather patterns like El Nino and La Nina.
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  • Water quality: Pollution caused by coastal developments, recreational misuse, dredging, careless tourism.
  • Fishing: There are laws in Australia that prohibit you from fishing certain types of fish and the amount you are permitted to catch that are vital to keeping the great barrier reef alive.
  • Crowns of Thorns Starfish: The first outbreak of the Crown of Thorns Starfish was in 1962. It was brought here by a boat that neglected to use the proper practices which led to the Crown of Thorns Starfish invading the Great Barrier Reef. These starfish eat the coral which kills the reef.
  • Global Warming: An increase in water temperature due to global warming has a direct correlation to acidification in tropical and temperate waters. Therefore, speeding up the process of coral bleaching which is the undoing of the symbiotic relationship between coral and algae.
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St Josephs Regional College Port Macquarie
9Marine2 - Maisy Taylor, Cooper Winn, Avalon Sanbrook and Ava Glassie.

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