Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the most beautiful and the world's largest coral reef system. The beauty is a rich collection of varied marine life comprising of 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays. Adorned by tropical islands and golden beaches, the reef is one of the most stunning creations of nature. However, human activities have depleted nature's bounty terribly. About 50 percent of the reef's coral cover has already been lost, and according to scientists, it could be all gone by 2050 unless quick action is taken. Coral Cover of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Depleting at an Alarming Rate, Tourism to Get Affected.
The plunge in the number of new corals is primarily due to coral bleaching caused by sea warming. According to a study by the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS) released on Thursday, the reef is depleting quickly than expected. According to government scientists, while the hard coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef is nearing a record low in the northern stretch, it is on the decline in the south. The hardcover in the northern region above Cooktown is at 14 percent which is just a slight increase from last year. Coral bleaching is linked to sea warming, tropical cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks. Palau To Ban Sunscreen To Save Coral Reefs: Here's How Sunscreen Affects Marine Life.
The decline of coral reefs caused ecological imbalance and can have a negative economic impact. Coral reefs control the amount of carbon dioxide in the ocean, making them critical to the food chain. While various measures have been taken to protect the corals, the damage is caused by a large scale and much needs to be done to save it from further destruction. Popcorn Beach! This Sea-Side in Spain's Canary Islands Has Corals Exactly Like Popcorn, View Stunning Photos and Video
As the coral cover decreases day by day, we take look at a few steps that can help revive it and bring back the natural cover.
1. Don't Go Fishing Near a Coral Reef
Things like an anchor, fishing nets, hooks and lines can cause damage to coral reefs. It is important to note that coral reefs are not located in places where fishing is conducted.
2. Do Not Touch or Strike a Coral Reef
Do not touch a coral reef as it can cause serious damage. Coral reefs are a small fragile animal that can get damaged easily. One also has to be careful with flippers while diving or snorkelling.
3. Keep The Beach Clean
Fishing nets or garbage on the beach can harm coral reefs. The trash goes into the ocean and eventually back to the shore. The litter can affect the corals as they are very fragile. It can also harm or kill the fish.
4. Scuba Dive With Care
Snorkelling near coral reefs can damage them terribly. Do not take away a nice shell that caught your attention, because it may contain a tiny life. Stay horizontal in the water and do not kick with your fins. Avoid swimming too fast in these areas. Many places have now banned the use of sunscreen while diving in places where coral reefs are prominent as the oils from these lotions can cause coral reefs damage.
5. Do Not Encourage The Sale or Purchase Coral Souvenirs
Neither take anything out of the ocean which is alive, nor buy souvenirs from the store. In some countries, jewellery and other decorative items are made from corals.
6. No Development or Construction Near The Shore
Often hotels and restaurants are located a little too close to shores. Land development and construction should be avoided in such areas as sediment can affect these fragile creatures.
According to AIMS report, highest average coral cover in the reef's northern region was 14 per cent this year compared to a high of 30 per cent in 1988. AIMS chief executive Paul Hardisty said, "The Great Barrier Reef is still beautiful and it is resilient, but it is facing unprecedented challenges." Australian Marine Conservation Society spokeswoman Shani Tager said, "The data screams out from this report that climate change is clobbering our world heritage reef."
The southern and central sections of the 2,300-km-long system are reducing in size, the northern region has partially stabilised. Average coral cover in the northern region increased from 11 percent in 2017 to 14 percent in 2019, which is lower than 30 percent in 1988 when the study began. The central region's highest recorded average coral cover was 22 percent in 2016 and reduced to 12 percent this year. The southern region had 43 percent in 1988, compared with 24 percent this year.