Great Barrier Reef
Feed the shark, see with your own eyes the real coral jungle, huge turtles, sea crocodiles, squids, octopuses, rare bird nesting places – the Great Barrier Reef will provide this opportunity to everyone without difficulty. The Great Barrier Reef consists of three thousand reefs and nine hundred coastal islands, and is considered the largest natural object on the planet that created living organisms. Its area significantly exceeds the territory of England – a reef park with a total area of almost 344.5 thousand km. sq. stretched along the Australian northeast coast for 2.5 thousand km. Basically, the park is located under water and, according to many researchers, ninety percent have not yet been studied. At the same time, it is 300 km from the south from mainland Australia, and 32 km from the north.
Many who have been here claim that not a single photograph, even of the highest quality, or a film shot with the best equipment, is able to fully convey the local beauty and the atmosphere of silence. Under water, at a depth of more than ten meters, corals glow with fantastic colors – you can count several tones of green, purple, red, as well as black, yellow, brown, mustard and white.
Scientists claim that the Australian reef is no more than 400 thousand years old, and the most intensive growth occurred when the water level of the oceans increased. Many sites have formed over the past two centuries, with young reefs located on old ones under water at a depth of 15 to 20 meters. By itself, the Great Barrier Reef or the Reef National Park is so large that it is about ten percent of the area of all the coral reefs of the planet. The park owes its appearance to coral polyps (more than 400 species of the most diverse color live here) – a tiny animal with tentacles the size of a grain of rice. They exist together with unicellular algae, which are hidden in the middle of their body. It is algae that, through photosynthesis, provide polyps with organic substances (for example, calcium, which forms the skeleton of microorganisms). Since coral polyps live only in colonies, together they manage to create a huge limestone framework on which marine animals and algae of various species are “registered”, thus bonding the polyps into a single whole. In order for the reef park to take on a specific shape and size, more than one thousand generations of reef builders must be replaced. Fortunately, natural conditions near the eastern shores of Australia allow this. Closer to Antarctica, the reef park gradually disappears – the corals that form it are able to develop only when the water temperature is at least 17.5 ° C (ideally, from 22 ° C to 27 ° C), at a shallow depth, in a clear sea water (water must have a certain amount of salt). The lower the sea level, the less coral. The Great Barrier Reef not only constantly grows, but also collapses all the time – in addition to being constantly gnawed by animals and fish, it is also eroded by water and corroded by acids. Over time, almost all corals decay into sand. Therefore, the layer visible to us, which is on the surface, is constantly changing. Destruction does not occur as fast as reef growth, for example, some corals under favorable conditions can increase up to 30 cm per year. Reef Development The Great Barrier Reef was opened by world-famous navigator James Cook. He did this quite unexpectedly for himself – in the evening, when he sailed over them, the serrated edges of the corals stuck into the vessel and pierced the skin. To remove the Endeavor from the reefs, the crew of the ship had to throw tons of cargo into the water, including heavy weapons – guns. After that, Cook and his team managed to stop the water with difficulty, leave the coral labyrinths and even start a ship at the mouth of the river in order to patch numerous holes and holes. Cairns, then a small town in northeast Australia, was 160 km from the scene. Cannons and other items thrown to the bottom of the sea lay on the seabed until the 70s. 20th century, until one of the American expeditions raised them to the surface. Nowadays, tourists can see these finds in the local museum, and one gun is installed on the island of Green. Naturally, Jace Cook was not the only captain whose ship wrecked due to the Great Barrier Reef. To date, the wreckage of about five hundred ships has been recorded, among them one of the first reef researchers who tried to map this amazing creation of nature. In 1970, the first oil tanker sank here, almost destroying not only the coral reef, but also its inhabitants. Cook was far from the first to know the existence of coral reefs in the area. The Australian natives and the islanders of the Torres Strait at that time had already pretty well studied its surface part and fished here.