Tag Archives: Great Barrier Reef

AUSTRALIA ~ TO CREATE MARINE HAVEN ~ PART 2

In the following breathtaking video, “Australia Great Barrier Reef“, you get a glimpse into the magnitude of the thousands of species that inhabit Australia‘s surrounding ocean ~ Uploaded by on Oct 3, 2009; Music: Tiesto-A Tear in the Open, Chilling Crew-For Better Moments, Tribal Trance-Orance Leopard Moon. Quote from YouTube video information: “My intentions were to make a quality trip video. We took a 4 day liveaboard with Mike Ball Dive expeditions ending up at the amazing Osprey Reef. The diving was incredible.”
This is a truly spectacular video and a must see in FULL SCREEN.  I am so envious of the divers who experience this thrill of a lifetime!

Some interesting data about the species that inhabit the waters of Australia’s ocean and the Great Barrier Reef ~

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. It consists of more than 2,900 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays and thousands of species making it one of the world’s most complex and diverse ecosystems. The animals of the Great Barrier Reef include some 1500 species of marine fish, 360 species of hard corals, between 5000 and 8000 species of mollusks, 600 species of echinoderms, 17 species of sea snakes, 1500 species of sponges, 30 species of whales and dolphins, 6 species of marine turtles, 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds which breed on the reef’s many small islands.

Marine Fish of the Great Barrier Reef

There are more than 1500 species of fish that inhabit the Great Barrier Reef. They range in size from the tiny gobies, some of which weigh less than one gram, to the larger bony fishes such as the tuskfish and potato cod, to the massive cartilaginous fishes such as manta rays, tiger sharks and whale sharks. Damselfish, wrasses and tuskfish are among the most abundant fishes on the reef. Other fish of the Great Barrier Reef include blennies, butterfly fish, triggerfish, cowfish, pufferfish, angelfish, anemone fish, coral trout, seahorses, sea perch, sole, scorpion fish, hawkfish and surgeonfish.

Hard Corals of the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is home to about 360 species of hard corals including bottlebrush coral, bubble coral, brain coral, mushroom coral, staghorn coral, tabletop coral and needle coral. Hard corals, also known as stony corals, are a group of marine animals that live in shallow tropical waters and are responsible for building the structure of a coral reef. Colonies of hard corals grow in various shapes and sizes such as mounds, plates and branches. As previous coral colonies die, new ones grow on top of the limestone skeletons of their predecessors. Over time, this growth creates the three-dimensional architecture of a coral reef. Colonies of hard corals consist of thousands of small individual invertebrates referred to as coral polyps. Each polyp is radially symmetrical with a tube-like body that has a tentacle-rimmed mouth at the tip that it uses to feed.

Sponges and Echinoderms of the Great Barrier Reef

Over 600 species of echinoderms and more than 1500 species of sponges inhabit the Great Barrier Reef.

Echinoderms are bottom-dwelling marine invertebrates. They exhibit a type of radial symmetry called pentamerous symmetry in which their body can be divided into five equal parts around a central axis. The echinoderms of the Great Barrier Reef include sea urchins, sea cucumbers, sea stars, feather stars and brittle stars.

Sponges of the Great Barrier Reef include the yellow burrowing sponge, tubular sponge, thick yellow fan sponge.

Marine Reptiles of the Great Barrier Reef

There are 23 species of marine reptiles that inhabit the Great Barrier Reef including 6 species of sea turtles and 17 species of sea snakes. Occasionally, the saltwater crocodile also ventures out to forage on the reef, although such visits are quite rare.

The sea turtles that inhabit the Great Barrier Reef include the green turtle, loggerhead turtle, hawksbill turtle, flatback turtle, leatherback turtle and the Pacific ridley turtle. Some sea turtle species, such as the green turtle, loggerhead turtle and hawksbill turtle, nest on coral cays. The flatback turtle nests on continental islands and the green and leatherback turtles nest on mainland Australia. When not nesting, these sea turtle species use the waters of the Great Barrier Reef as foraging grounds.

Among the sea snakes of the Great Barrier Reef are the olive sea snake, the turtle-headed sea snake and the sea krait. All sea snakes are venomous.

Marine Mammals of the Great Barrier Reef

About 30 species of whales and dolphins frequent the waters of the Great Barrier Reef including humpback whales, Irrawaddy river dolphins, minke whales and spinner dolphins. Dugongs also inhabit the reef, feeding on the sea grasses that grow in the shallow inshore waters.

Not all of these marine mammals are permanent residents of the Great Barrier Reef. Minke whales and humpback whales visit the reef in winter. Other rorqual whales such as blue whales, fin whales and sei whales also migrate through the Great Barrier Reef region but do not stay for extended periods of time.

Mollusks of the Great Barrier Reef

More than 5000 species of mollusks live in the Great Barrier Reef. These include giant clams, cone shells, nudibranchs, octopus, cuttlefish and squid.
 
 
 
 

In this video, “Australia to create marine haven”, Australia’s Environment Minister, Tony Burke, unveils plans for the world’s largest network of protective marine parks.  Published on Jun 14, 2012 by

 

VIDEO ~ “Australia to build biggest marine reserve“, posted to YouTube by Al Jazeera‘s Andrew Thomas from Sydney, Australia on Jun 15, 2012 ~ The Australian government has announced the creation of the world’s biggest network of marine parks (3.3 million square metres), covering an overall area the size of “India”

This video, “Marine Life off Perth, Western Australia”, just released by the Ocean’s Institute, University of  Western Australia, showing a sequence of video footage captured off Perth, Western Australia.  The marine life shown in this sequence now has a brighter future thanks to the plan for marine sanctuaries off Australia’s South West. Published on Jul 4, 2012 by

 Once again, I hope you all realize how vital the work being done by the World Resources Institute Insights is and will find a way to support their efforts ~ insights.wri.org. 

AUSTRALIA ~ TO CREATE MARINE HAVEN ~ PART1

The following four minute animated video, “Coral Reefs: Polyps in Peril” is presented by WRI Insights ~ insights.wri.org ~ Submitted by Lauretta Burke on July 9, 2012
We strongly recommend you visit WRI’s site to read the full article,”Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Coral Reefs“, . 

Ocean advocate Céline Cousteau and cartoonist Jim Toomey (creator of Sherman’s Lagoon) teamed up with the World Resources Institute to bring you “Coral Reefs: Polyps in Peril”. This short animated film tells the story of coral reefs with humor and admiration for these wondrous ecosystems.  Learn about the unique biology of coral reefs and their importance to people around the world, as well as the serious threats that they face due to overfishing, pollution, and climate change.  But don’t let that get you down!  The film also explores what individuals can do to help save coral reefs, including supporting sustainable seafood and tourism providers, reducing your CO2 footprint, and promoting coral reef conservation. Published to YouTube on Jul 9, 2012 by

As a prelude to this topic you might like to preview two of my previous blogs on the Great Barrier Reef:
1) “Great Barrier Reef Video” ~ posted March 6, 2012 ~ watch the National Geographic totally awesome and mesmerizing video, “Exploring Oceans: Great Barrier Reef”.

2) “Coral Reefs Are in Crisis” ~ posted May 15, 2012.

In my next blog, “Australia ~ To Create Marine Haven”, I will be including four videos and very interesting data about the species that inhabit the waters of Australia’s ocean and  the Great Barrier Reef: Marine Fish;  Hard Corals; Sponges and Echinoderms; Marine Reptiles; Marine Mammals and Mollusks.

I hope you all realize how vital the work being done by the World Resources Institute Insights is and will find a way to support their efforts ~ insights.wri.org. 

See you back here for Part 2

CORAL REEFS ARE IN CRISIS!!!

“Losing Our Coral Reefs

Excerpts from the article published in The Earth Institute, Columbia University, State of the Planet‘s blog, by Renee Cho, June 13, 2011

Before reading this you might like to watch the video included with my blog, “Great Barrier Reef” published March 6, 2012.

I urge you to read Renee Cho’s full article by clicking the link at the end of this blog.  Thank you.

Coral reefs, the “rainforests of the sea,” are some of the most biodiversity and productive ecosystems on earth. They occupy only .2% of the ocean, yet are home to a quarter of all marine species: crustaceans, reptiles, seaweeds, bacteria, fungi, and over 4000 species of fish make their home in coral reefs. With an annual global economic value of $375 billion, coral reefs provide food and resources for over 500 million people in 94 countries and territories. But tragically, coral reefs are in crisis.

Coral reefs are endangered by natural phenomena such as hurricanes, El Nino, predators and diseases; local threats including overfishing, destructive fishing techniques, coastal development, pollution, and careless tourism; and the global effects of climate change… 90% of coral reefs will be in danger by 2030, and all of them by 2050.

Coral reefs are colonies of individual animals called polyps, which are related to sea anemones. The polyps, which have tentacles to feed on plankton at night, play host to zooxanthellae, symbiotic algae that live within their tissues and give the coral its color. The coral provides CO2 and waste products that the algae need for photosynthesis. In turn, the algae nourish the coral with oxygen and the organic products of photosynthesis. The coral uses these compounds to synthesize calcium carbonate (limestone) with which it constructs its skeleton—the coral reef…

Of local threats to coral reefs, overfishing and damaging fishing techniques such as deep water trawling and the use of explosives and cyanide, are the most destructive… The global effects of climate change are also having critical impacts on coral reefs, and “the evidence is overwhelming that the ability of corals and the reefs they build to keep pace with the current rate of climate change has been exceeded” according to a recent study… When El Nino occurred in 1997-1998, widespread and severe coral reef bleaching occurred in the Indo-Pacific region and the Caribbean, killing 16% of the world’s coral reefs in 12 months… bleaching leaves corals vulnerable to disease, stunts their growth, and affects their reproduction, while severe bleaching kills them…

Today, coral reefs are experiencing warmer ocean temperatures and more acidity than they have at any time in the last 400,000 years. Acidification reduces the water’s carrying capacity for calcium carbonate that corals need to build their skeletons…It’s estimated that by 2050, only 15% of coral reefs will have enough calcium carbonate for adequate growth… Coral reefs provide us with food, construction materials (limestone) and new medicines—more than half of new cancer drug research is focused on marine organisms. They offer shoreline protection and maintain water quality. And they are a draw for tourists, sometimes providing up to 80% of a country’s total income. Losing the coral reefs would have profound social and economic impacts on many countries, especially small island nations like Haiti, Fiji, Indonesia, and the Philippines that depend on coral reefs for their livelihoods.

What can be done to save these precious and beautiful ecosystems?

The Coral Restoration Foundation protects and restores coral reefs through creating coral nurseries and transplanting corals into degraded reef areas. Concerned individuals can adopt a coral through the Coral Restoration Foundation or a coral reef through the Nature Conservancy, which uses the funds to conduct research, promote marine conservation and support the creation of MPAs. MPAs, which are being created worldwide, protect biodiversity and help communities manage resources sustainably.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest and richest coral reef in the world because it has been protected since the early 1970s. The creation of an MPA off St. Lucia in the Caribbean has resulted in a tripling of the fish population…. by Renee Cho

http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2011/06/13/losing-our-coral-reefs/

CANADIAN ECOLOGICAL TREASURE – FUTURE OF???

At the heart of the hearings to decide the future of the Great Bear Sea and Rainforest is whether, and under what conditions, we should permit super tankers and a bitumen pipeline in one of the last intact temperate coastal rainforests on Earth.

 WWWF – CANADA BLOG – January 11, 2012 Posted by Gerald Butts

Please see link I’ve included at the end of this article regarding another threat to our humpback whales

The hearings to decide the future of the Great Bear Sea and Rainforest got off to quite a start this week. Big oil, foreign intrigue, a grassroots uprising, dueling polls, angry Ministers; this one has all the makings of a blockbuster. No wonder the media interest has been so strong.

But all this fervor has obscured the heart of the matter, which is whether and under what conditions we should permit super tankers and a bitumen pipeline in one of the last intact temperate coastal rainforests on Earth.

I suspect most Canadians would be surprised that the proposed route of the Enbridge pipeline bisects this ecological treasure.   Pipeline proponents would rather frame this issue around developing an Asian market for oil sands bitumen – and the allegedly nefarious U.S.-based interests who would prevent U.S. from doing so – than have a science-based debate about the very real risks associated with getting it there via this route.

Kermode or Spirit bear in the Great Bear Rainforest. © Natalie Bowes / WWF-Canada

It is the peculiar Canadian paradox that we are blessed with such natural beauty and abundance that we often fail to value it appropriately.

Even by our standards, however, the Great Bear is a special place.  It is the only habitat in the world for the Spirit Bear, which is rarer than the Giant Panda. Humpbacks, orcas and many other species of cetaceans take advantage of this uniquely quiet cold ocean to prosper. Eagles are as plentiful as sparrows are in Canada’s urban parks.

All five species of Pacific salmon are present, providing the basis for a prosperous fishery. When spawned out or dragged into the forest by grizzlies and bald eagles, these fish deliver the nitrogen needed to grow trees to a size they have no business reaching at this latitude. This in turn allows for healthy and sustainable forestry.

Mercifully, the communities that have been sustained by this wondrous ecosystem for millennia do not share our paradoxical undervaluing of nature. B.C.’s Coastal First Nations know well that Great Bear’s value as a functioning ecosystem dwarfs the tantalizing but fleeting promise of short-term cash from oil revenues.

And they know from history what we know from traditional science: that this meticulously interconnected ecosystem is very vulnerable to disruption. A toxic event, even in Enbridge’s own estimation, cannot be ruled out. The 1,170-kilometre pipeline would divide the rainforest, crossing countless salmon rivers. At Kitimat, toxic diluted bitumen would be loaded onto supersized tankers.

Each year, more than 200 would travel through narrow fjords out into some of the world’s most treacherous seas.

© Andrew S. Wright / WWF-Canada

This isn’t the first time the Great Bear has been threatened. Just 25 years ago, it was slated to be clear-cut. After 15 years of conflict, a group of unlikely allies found a solution. First Nations, forestry companies, NGOs, the Harper and Campbell governments and both Canadian and U.S.-based philanthropists came together to create a world-leading model of ecosystem management and economic development. By combining conservation with better logging practices, and using a public-private funding model to finance new economic development, we found a way to protect the environment and the economy of the Great Bear.

The current question of whether foreign interests can participate in the NEB hearings is curious in this context. Should we prohibit oil sands companies, the majority of which are foreign-owned and operated? It also hypocritical, given that the industry and government has spent untold millions to lobby foreign governments, air PR campaigns in foreign markets and solicit foreign direct investment in the oil sands. The message we are sending the world is that you are free to come to Canada to exploit nature, but not to protect it.

In the interests of full disclosure, less than two per cent of our revenue came from U.S. foundations that have been targeted by smear campaigns recently. We are proud to add that support to the larger contributions we receive from almost 150,000 like-minded Canadians. We are also proud to provide a platform for Canadians who care deeply about conserving nature around the world, from the Amazon to tiger habitats of Russia and south Asia. Most important, we are transparent about our sources and uses of revenue (see wwf.ca), which cannot be said for those leading this spurious campaign.

Ultimately, this debate is a red herring designed to distract. The Great Bear is globally significant. If this development were proposed for the Amazon or the Great Barrier Reef, people around the world would engage. These are irreplaceable sites and input from global citizens who care about nature should be welcome. This expectation ought to be second nature in an open-society such as ours.

A version of this opinion piece ran in The Globe and Mail on January 11, 2012.

ANOTHER MAJOR CONCERN ABOUT THE ENBRIDGE PIPELINE:

Link to “Proposed Enbridge pipeline threatens humpback whales: DFO” below

http://www.raincoast.org/media/in-the-news/proposed-enbridge-pipeline-threatens-humpback-whales-dfo/

GREAT BARRIER REEF VIDEO

GREAT BARRIER REEF

Your friends from Rainsoft Ottawa bring you a water related National Geographic video – perhaps this can be the beginning of our “Armchair Travel” series – hope you enjoy (I certainly did – so much so that I watched it twice!)

The largest living structure, the Great Barrier Reef spans more than 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) of islands and submerged reefs. A plethora of coral thrives here, along with a sweep of parrot fish, surgeonfish, barracuda, and sharks.

Established as a national park in 1975, the Great Barrier Reef was designated as a World Heritage Site six years later. Today 33 per cent of it is fully protected, and efforts are underway to deal with pollution, over-fishing, and the consequences of climate change.

The Great Barrier Reef appears to be about 20,000 years old, but geologists using deep coring techniques have found evidence of ancient corals there that are half a million years old.  With care, the future of Australia’s living treasure will be at least as enduring as its magnificent past.

 

 

 
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GREAT BARRIER VIDEO, “Oceans: Great Barrier Reef”   

Great Barrier Reef Transcript: …  From space, the east coast of Australia appears to be in the embrace of a giant opal. The largest living structure on earth, the Great Barrier Reef is a lacy, living wall spanning more than two thousand kilometers of islands and submerged reefs, between the Queensland coast and the western edge of the Pacific Ocean.  Diving in, the opal seems to splinter into millions of pieces, whirlpools of small metallic-blue fish, barracuda gliding like silver submarines, and occasionally, a lone, predatory shark. The Great Barrier Reef is like an underwater city whose buildings are alive, with millions of small creatures whose lives are intimately and intricately connected. It is as diverse as a rainforest, a mosaic of more than 70 types of habitats hosting thousands of species of marine life. As many as 100 different kinds of coral may occupy a single acre of ocean. Molecule by molecule, coral animals gradually extract calcium carbonate from the surrounding water to form minute stony cups around each animal’s soft crown of tentacles. Some coral live in solitary splendor, but most are built with hundreds, sometimes thousands of individual animals, linked together to form a single coral mound, plate or cluster of branches. Some are like little pink trees and shrubs. They provide food and shelter for thousands of other forms of life. Corals get the credit for most of the reef structure, but much of the construction is done by fast-growing encrusting red algae. They act like pink glue, cementing fragments of shell, sand and coral with sheets of calcium carbonate. The reef is home to more than 4000 kinds of mollusks, from tiny sea slugs – nudibranchs — to giant clams. Green sea turtles travel thousands of miles in the open sea to reach the sandy beaches of some of the Barrier Reef’s islands, and there, to lay their eggs. Hatchings head straight for the sea. They will travel thousands of miles over the years, and eventually, return to lay their own eggs…

video credit: National Geographic

 – VIDEO: UN concern over Barrier Reef threat (bbc.co.uk)

 – Fears for health of Great Barrier Reef (1oneday.wordpress.com)