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The Great Barrier Reef Not So Great?


Image By Paul Holloway, Flickr

The first adjective I use when thinking about the Great Barrier Reef is great. But, according to a new study published by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in Townsville, Australia, it is rapidly shrinking. The shrinking is due in part to the recent storms, an increase in the number of crown of thorns starfish in the reef and coral bleaching.

The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral in just over 27 years. John Gunn, the CEO of AIMS, said that we must “… adapt to the challenges of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification.” He goes on to say, “We can’t stop the storms but, perhaps we can stop the starfish.”

Another concern for the Great Barrier Reef is that if this trend of shrinking continues at the rate it is going, then by 2022 the coral could shrink in half again.

But, there is some good news for the reef. It is able to regenerate itself. It will take about 10-20 years for the reef to fully recover, that is if it does not shrink in size anymore than it has already. This is quite near impossible though because there is no way to stop storms or ocean warming, which causes coral bleaching. The ocean warming stems from Global Warming, which is an epidemic in itself. The only thing that we can help to prevent is the crown of thorns starfish from destroying the reef. Scientists can continue to study them to find out how to reduce their numbers in the reef. Without the crown of thorns the reef with increase by 0.89% per year, a small recovery for the Great Barrier Reef. The whole process will take time, but if successful we can save the Great Barrier Reef from becoming a thing of the past.


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  1. henroids

    It is a shame that the Great Barrier Reef is shrinking, but not only because of it’s beauty and size, because of its role it plays in the Australian coast’s ecosystem. According to:

    the Great Barrier Reef serves as a protective habitat for marine life that live between the Reef and the shoreline. The Great Barrier Reef also consists of calcium carbonate (found in the coral skeletons) which helps maintain the pH balance in the waters surrounding the Reef, allowing for marine life to thrive. If the Reef continues to shrink it would be devastating on one of the largest ecosystems in the oceans, so just like Biorob I hope the Reef can recover over the next decade.

  2. sayrest4

    It is very unfortunate that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger. On top of the starfish and storms, toxic water runoff is also damaging the reef. Things such as pesticides and sewage are leaking into it. They really cause a lot of harm. Hopefully in the next few years the reef can start to see some improvements.

  3. inewitt

    In fact, the number of crown of thorns starfish has become so great that there is a $10 bounty for each one collected.

  4. biorob

    This is a very interesting article! It is such a shame that the most famous coral reef is shrinking in size. If the reef does not regenerate it self, it can halve again by the year 2022. This article:

    also shows that it will take a longer time to regenerate because the “time intervals between the storms are too short.” It is a very interesting situation to follow and I hope that the Great Barrier Reef can fully recover!

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