The Great Barrier Reef is a 1600 mile long living organism off the coast of Australia. It is also an ecosystem and home to literally tens of thousands of living creatures from corals and plant life to fish, reptiles, and mammals. Every year hundreds of new species are discovered in the reef, and yet others become endangered from extinction. The number one threat to the survival of The Great Barrier Reef and its inhabitants is pollution.
Environmentalists claim The Great Barrier Reef is under serious threat from agricultural waste and run-off coming from farmlands on nearby coastlines. The pesticides and chemicals used on farms and plantations eventually wash off into the soil. Eventually this polluted soil washes downward into rivers and streams that eventually spill out into the ocean. These pollutants cause direct damage to much of the sea-life and indirectly it affects the eco-system. While some creatures aren't affected by the pollution, the animals they feed on might be. The pollution also effects aquatic plant life that also provides food and breeding grounds for many other creatures.
Not only are pesticides and chemicals draining into the oceans, but so are nutrients from plants and crops grown on nearby farms. While nutrients don't directly harm any sea creatures, it does affect the ecosystem in many ways. The most drastic effect is the rise in creatures like the 'Crown-of-Thorns Starfish' which is a predator creature that attacks coral. A significant rise in the breeding and spread of this creature is an obvious danger to future of The Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is already under distress from the rise in temperatures in the ocean from Global Warming and climate change which are also the results of global pollution. A study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina found that the world's coral reefs have been shrinking five times faster than the world's rainforests over the past 20 years.
Imagine a situation where more than 2,000 different types of fish, 4,000 species of mollusks and invertebrates, hundreds of mammals and reptiles, and thousands of aquatic plant life become endangered or complete extinct. This is what pollution is doing right now in The Great Barrier Reef and it is only getting worse. The Australian government will have to find ways to help control or prevent the polluted run-off from coastal farms from reaching the ocean. And as a planet, we all need to unite in the fight against climate change and prevent the lose of one the world's most valuable organisms, The Great Barrier Reef.