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13 Threats to the Great Barrier Reef – Effects

by corri

Lately, Air monitoring shows that the Northern part of the Great Barrier Reef 95 Percent is severely damaged by the natural phenomenon of coral bleaching. Experts estimate half of the world’s largest coral reefs probably will die next month. The aerial survey found coral bleaching at Cape Grenville in North Queensland. Professor Terry Hughes, a coral reef expert from James Cook University in Townsville who leads the airborne survey, said the situation in the Great Barrier Reef area that is part of the world heritage site is now very critical. Here are some of the threat of the great barrier reef:
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1. Bleaching

Coral bleaching nowadays becomes incredibly serious matters. Especially in warm summers, the connection between the symbiotic algae, and the coral become unbalanced and disrupted. To stay alive, the corals expels the algae hoping that they will get better in times ahead. In this moment, the coral turn white and that’s what we normally called bleaching. In some surveys show that in 2016 and 2017 a mass bleaching events have been impacting two-third of the reef. The only reef that could survive are the reef that lives in the southern part. In 2016 the bleaching event was intense happening in the reef’s middle third, while in 2015 the bleaching event happened mostly in the further north.

Read Also : Types of Algae – Threats to Coral Reefs

2. Climate Change

Great Barrier Reefs are home as well as shelter for the fish in the sea. The key to life at sea is on great barrier reefs that support undersea biodiversity. However, the results show climate change threatens the existence of this heritage. Human population is one of the reasons of the climate change and become one of the greatest threats for the long-term future of the Great Barrier Reef. Nowadays the tropical sea surface temperatures keep increasing around 0.4-0.5 C since the late of 19th Century.

Read Also:Plants in The Great Barrier Reef – Deepest Sea in The World

3. Raising Water Temperature

The great barrier reef is one of the greatest eco-tourism assets in Australia. Over USD 7 billion per year come to Australia coming from the Great Barrier Reef itself. Meanwhile, this heritage also supporting the livelihoods for up to 69.000 people. The loss of coral reefs that cause by the rising sea temperatures may cost around USD 1 Trillion. This indeed not a small amount of money. Australias’s Climate Council has reported that Australia has lost their Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef and this loss has been impacting around 1m visitor a year.

Protecting the coral reefs in Australia and around the world from the greenhouse gas emissions is the only way to keep them alive. Australia has totally cared about their Great Barrier Reef. The Emission is increasing in China meanwhile decreasing in US and the other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Australia’s emission keeps growing in comparison. They intended to stop and reverse the trend. Nowadays, The Australian Council’s report said that the emission has grown about 0.8 percent in 2016 in Australia itself.

Small changes in sea levels will impact the land irrigation that causes significant changes in tidal habitats like mangroves and saltwater. The rising sea level may cause by two factors: ocean water warms and expands, and the other one is because of the contribution of the ice sheets such as glaciers, land-based, ice sheets and sea ice due to the increase of the melting level. Sea levels on the Great Barrier Reef have already risen about 0.3 cm per year since 1991 due to the global warming issue.

Based on this rate, many researchers advise that the rising of the sea level will leave us negligible impacts on great barrier reefs because mostly they only focus on the potential accretion rates.At some point, the rising of the sea level will be impacting the increasing of the sedimentary processes which potentially will inhibit the coral reef from the photosynthesis, feeding, recruitment, and other key physiological reef processes. For example, it may cause the increasing of sedimentation due to shoreline erosion which may inhibit them from sunlight that needed for the photosynthesis process.

Read Also: Endangered Species in Atlantic Ocean – Endangered Species in The Pacific Ocean

4. Ocean Acidification

Acidification of the Ocean is the term given to the process of descending seawater pH levels that are now occurring due to the absorption of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from human activities (such as the use of fossil fuels). According to Jacobson (2005), the pH at sea level is expected to fall from 8.25 to 8.14 from 1751 to 2004. Ocean acidification is the term given to the process of descending seawater pH levels that are now occurring due to the absorption of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from human activities (such as the use of fossil fuels).

According to Jacobson (2005), the pH at sea level is expected to fall from 8.25 to 8.14 from 1751 to 2004.
According to some researchers, Some parts of the Great Barrier Reef are very vulnerable to ocean acidification. Some studies said more than 3000 coral reefs off the northeast coast of Australia have been experiencing some conditions that were predicted before. Researchers predicted that around 0.1 pH has dropped since the year when the industrial revolution began. It may sound pretty less and not a lot, but the impact has been felt in coral reefs around the world.

Read Also : Movement of Ocean Water – Human Impacts on the Great Barrier Reef

5. Poor Water Quality 

Coral reefs and their ecosystem will depend on the quality of the water where they live. For the Great Barrier Reef, their issues were split into two main factors:

  • The Increasing of sediment, nutrients, and the water contaminants that entering the sea which is coming from industries, urban land uses, and agricultural.
  • The rising seawater temperatures.
  • The increasing seawater acidity that associated with the climate change.

Read Also: Ocean SeashellsEffects of La Nina

6. Coastal Development

Australia keep growing and so does the development along the coast and island. Land in the reef area somehow used for agriculture, industries, urban, mining, island development. Coral reef’s health may be impacted by the activities like this. This impact will not only happen from the past development, but also for the next development. Take one example such as scale clearing and reclamation for urban and industrial development.

Read Also:  Threats to Marine BiodiversityWays to Stop Overfishing


Most catchment in Australia is being used for crops, dairy, horticulture, and grazing. More than 80 per cent of catchment being used to support the agriculture. Most of the extensive land in Australia also being used as cattle grazing.

Read Also: Ways to Save the DolphinsConservation of Coral reef

8. Mining

Curtis Island that located off the coast of the Central Queensland city of Gladstone, is the world’s first projects converting coal seam gas to LPG. This location was the site that have this biggest first world’s project on Oil and gas. The oil industries in Queensland keep increasing more than doubled since the early 1990s and the area even now associated with some of the world’s largest mines and coal ports. This mining project has impact much of the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

Read Also: Endangered Dolphin SpeciesBiggest Fish in Amazon

9. Urban and Industrial development

Urban and Industrial development will exclude the mining. In the Great Barrier Reef catchment area for specifically isn’t extensive. However, with the growth of population and economic projection advice the land uses. The growing of the population in coastal area is increasing and the demand for the infrastructure and services such as water, sewerage, roads, and power also increasing. Though the urban area needs a small proportion of catchment (which is less than 0.01 per cent), most of the development located on floodplains and within the coastal zone.

Read Also : Red Sea Fish Endangered Sea Lions

10. Port Development

Port development has been one of the major reason for reclamation. This reclamation filling some of ocean’s areas, wetlands and other water bodies along the area of  Great Barrier Reef. The area that being reclaimed within Great Barrier Reef around 8 square kilometers. Most of the area that being reclaimed was in Gladstone area.

Read Also: Threats to Coral Reef – Types of Kelp

11. Aquaculture

Over past years there has been a bit expansion of land-based aquaculture that is surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef area, however the production keep increasing. Land-based aquaculture operation, mainly focusing on barramundi, redclaw, freshwater fishes and prawns. Mostly, this activities are located close to the coast in parts of the southern half of the Great Barrier Reef area.

See also: Endangered Plants in The Ocean – Types of Jellyfish

12. Island Development

Some of Great Barrier Reef islands are the residential areas and tourism spots. The development of tourism spots develop in more than 23 Great Barrier Reef Islands. Most of development exists in Whitsundays, including Hamilton, Hayman, Lindeman, South Molle and Long islands. The biggest redevelopment of Great Keppel Island has been approved back in 2013.

See also: Conservation of the Great Barrier Reef – Animals in the Ocean Biome

13. Fishing

Report said that fishing in the Great Barrier Reef have brought significant impact on the fish populations in Great Barrier Reef. Researchers from ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef studies (Coral CoE) have reported that removing predatory fishes such as coral trout and snapper have brought many negative impacts to the reef’s fish populations. They found that the fish communities on reef especially predator has been being caught heavily in some areas. The reduction in predator through fishing will impacting the balance and the structure of the coral reef ecosystem.

Finally, those are some threats to the great barrier reef which commonly happened int entire great barrier reef all over oceans in the world. After knowing this, hope we can reduce all threats to prevent bad effect to our nature also protect the stability of ocean life.

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