Many exaggerated news articles have been published about the death of the Great Barrier Reef. Social media has not hesitated to mourn over the supposed death of this reef. However, scientists are baffled, and are quick to correct them, saying it is dying, and in grave danger, but not yet dead. This spread of false information prevents engaging the public to focus on such a significant issue.
The Great Barrier Reef has served as an amazing tourist attraction with over two million visitors a year. Hypocritically, not many people are aware of the problems it faces, and how prolonging this lack of understanding will cost its life.
This assembly of stunning, brightly colored corals are home to several animals including over 30 species of dolphins and whales, 17 species of sea snakes, over 1,500 species of fish, six species of breeding turtles such as the endangered Green Sea Turtles, and much more. Coral reefs, second to rain forests, are the largest supporters of biodiversity while only occupying less than 0.2 percent of the oceans. It is the world’s largest reef system, greater than the size of the United Kingdom, Holland, and Switzerland combined, and it needs help.
The Great Barrier Reef is suffering from mass bleaching, which is caused by the increasing warm temperature of the ocean water. Under heat stress, the coral reef refuses the microscopic algae that lives in its tissues– which provides the reef nutrients and its vibrant color, turning them into white skeletons, and eventually dying. Because of this climate change, 12 percent of the world’s reefs have undergone bleaching in the last year, and may continue to what will be the longest global coral bleaching in history.
Scientists are anxious about the reef’s future; genetic engineering may be required to counteract these warm temperatures, but will disastrous to thousands of marine species and a deal breaker for future tourists.
The Australian government has sent a report to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare the reef a World Heritage sight. Doing this will reassure UNESCO that there will be a strict supervision of the reef to lessen the amount of industrial chemical runoffs from farms and lawns, sediment, and other threats. However, the report failed to mention the elimination of the Carmichael coal mine about 200 miles from the reef. It produces large quantities of carbon dioxide that affect the Great Barrier Reef, making Australia’s 35-year plan hardly a success.