After the Great Barrier Reef was declared dead on Friday through a post, social media and the scientific community had a great reaction towards the importance of taking measures to prevent this kind of disasters in the ecosystem from happening.
The post seemed more like an obituary for the Great Barrier Reef, located in Australia. It was published on Friday by Outside Magazine, and it obtained more than 1.37 million shares in a short period. However, Russel Brainard from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program at NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Centers said that though the post wanted to highlight the sense of urgency, the Great Barrier Reef is not dead, it is dying.
“The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old,” stated the polemic post.
One of the seven wonders of the natural world is declared dead
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. It has around 2900 individual reefs and 1000 islands, it also measures around 2300 kilometers or 1400 miles. It is located on the coral reef off the coast of Queensland, in Australia. It can be seen from outer space.
The Australian wonder is considered to be the world’s largest living structure since it is made out of tiny living organisms known as coral polyps. As well, it is home to many vulnerable endemic species, some of them under risk of extinction. A great variety of turtles inhabits the reef. It contains 30 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises. As well, a large population of dugongs lives in the Reef along with 1500 fish species and 17 species of sea snakes. Its biodiversity turned it into a world heritage site in 1981. Additionally, it is considered as one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
But this wonder, which encloses more biodiversity than Europe jointly, is seriously endangered by the impact of human activities in the environment. Early this year, a report stated that the coral bleaching in the reef was more widespread that it was believed to be as a result of rising ocean temperatures. Scientists believe that corals are not going to be able to keep up with the increasing coral bleaching. The reef is largely protected by the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park that regulates tourism in the reef something that some environmentalist say it accelerates the damage to the reef. However, the tourism derived from the Reef is very profitable for Australia which gains around $3 billion per year out of tourism in the mentioned area.
Because of this situation, famous environmentalist Rowan Jacobsen wrote “Obituary: Great Barrier Reef (25 Million BC-2016),” declaring the death of this natural wonder after a long prolonged sickness. The post, published by Outside Magazine on October 13, explained the structure, history, and origin of the Great Barrier Reef, saying it has died after 25 million years. It went viral, and people started expressing regret and pity about the death of the largest living structure because of human actions.
In fact, the Wildlife Fund (WWF) has long advocated protecting the Great Coral Reef biodiversity and integrity. This NGO has said that the reef has been affected mainly because of human-caused climate chance and overfishing. Another important factor is pollution which results in a decline in the water quality. 90% of the pollution comes from farm runoff since most of the land adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef is used for farming. It is believed that the Reef’s dead would affect the life of 850 million people around the world.
The difference between ‘dead’ and ‘dying’
The popular post generated a lot of controversy in the media. It is true that the high ocean temperatures severely damage the Reef. However, recent reports have clarified that the reef is not actually dead but is very ill, so there is a difference between those terms, and the difference might just be up to the human race.
Russel Brainard from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program at NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Centers said that the obituary made by the Jacobsen intended to be a wake-up call for people about the damage we are causing to the environment, highlighting that the reef urgently needs help. As well, he said that most people are not aware of the current situation of the Great Barrier Reef, and maybe they took the message in the post too literally. But though not completely dead, it had died in some areas, according to Australian authorities.
“After the bleaching event in May, 60 percent of what we saw was bleached very white. Another 19-20 per cent was covered in sludgy brown algae. Even of what remained healthy, some looked a bit on edge, “said Amanda McKenzie of the Australian Climate Council. ”When we went back a few weeks ago to see if they had recovered or died, quite a large proportion had died.”
Source: Nature World News