Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ngahuia. Ngahuia Wonders, “How big is the Great Barrier Reef?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ngahuia!
Have you ever been down under? No, we’re not talking about crawling underneath the kitchen table. We mean Australia!
If you ever visit Australia, you must be sure to check out the Coral Sea. It’s off the northeast coast of Queensland. Why? That’s where you’ll find the world’s largest structure made by living organisms. It’s so large it can be seen from outer space. What are we talking about? The Great Barrier Reef, of course!
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. It is made up of over 940 islands and 2,900 individual reefs. It stretches across 1,600 miles over an area of more than 133,000 square miles!
What is The Great Barrier Reef made of? It’s built by billions and billions of tiny organisms called coral polyps. This reef is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. It was named a World Heritage Site in 1981.
It is home to an amazing variety of marine life, including:
- Over 1,500 types of fish
- Over 400 types of hard coral
- One-third of the world’s soft corals
- Over 4,000 types of mollusks
- Over 130 types of sharks and rays
- Six different types of threatened marine turtles
- Over 30 types of marine mammals, including the threatened dugong (sea cow)
- Over 240 types of birds
Unfortunately, the health of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened today by many factors. These include fishing practices, pollution, and rising sea temperatures. These are major threats to the future of the Great Barrier Reef and the species that call it home.
Population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish and agricultural runoff are also serious threats. Despite attempts to limit damage, scientists say the Great Barrier Reef may have lost more than half its coral cover in the last 25 years.
Fortunately, a huge portion of the Great Barrier Reef is protected from human impacts as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Scientists continue to work on ways to preserve the health of the Great Barrier Reef. It remains one of the most complex natural ecosystems on Earth.
Have you visited the Great Barrier Reef? Would you like to? Do you have any ideas for saving the reef? This enormous habitat needs your help! Protecting the Great Barrier Reef requires efforts from people all over the world.
Standards: NGSS.LS2.A, NGSS.LS2.C, NGSS.LS2.D, NGSS.LS4.C, NGSS.LS4.D, NGSS.ESS3.C, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2