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Biologists are exploring ways and means to help restore the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. The world-famous Reef has been in the news lately after it was reported that it was only a matter of time that the riot of colors would soon be bleached thanks to pollution. More recently, an ‘obituary’ written about the ‘death’ of the Great Barrier Reef went viral causing much concern. The Reef is spread over some 2300 km and is visible from space. It is home not just to 900 islands but also a wide range of species of marine life. The Great Barrier Reef generates of AUSD 5 billion for the Australian government and is visited by 1.9 million tourists every year. And so, while one can see why tourism to the Reef hasn’t been banned as it was to four islands in Thailand, the Reef is in serious danger of extinction. Also Read - India-China Ladakh Standoff: 'Situation Stable And Controllable, All Channels Open For Talks,' Says Beijing
According to Australia’s National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, about 93 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef has suffered some degree of bleaching. Biologists of reported that an increase of a temperature of a degree or two celsius in water temperature causes the coral reefs to reject the colourful algae that reside within and thus making the coral turn white. “How much worse that gets will depend on how we deal with global warming,” Mark Eakin, Coral Reef Watch coordinator with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said in a statement on Monday. Besides restraining global warming, several scientists are trying different methods to directly work on the coral, according to recent reports by different newspapers. Also Read - Style Tips to Wear Mom Jeans: How to Look Cool Wearing 'Unhip' Denim at Any Occasion
Meanwhile, coral biologist Ruth Gates from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology on Oahu is looking for stress-tolerant corals and breeding them to create a strain of coral that can stand changing water temperature. Similarly, Philippe Cousteau who comes from a family that specialises in environmental conservation and protection is searching for techniques for transplanting reef micro fragments to replace the damaged section of the reef. Then there is Peter Harrison from Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia who is using the sperm and eggs of healthy corals to create numerous larvae and then use the insects on the reefs in the Philippines to restore local marine life. Although all the above methods have not been massively applied to the Great Barrier Reef, the scientists’ efforts offered a glimmer that our descendants may have the day to enjoy the beauty of the reef like us.
The Great Barrier Reef is about 20 million years old and is home to 30 species of dolphins and whales, six species of sea turtles that come to the reef to breed, over 215 species of birds that visit and nest near the reef, 17 sea snake species and close to 1500 colorful species of fish. In fact the Reef is home to more than 10 per cent of the worlds fish species. The US and News World Report put the Great Barrier Reef as the top place to visit in the 2016-17. However the Reef is in danger of being bleached thanks to global warming. The constant exposure to warmer waters has caused the Reef to bleach slowly.
Meanwhile a new reef has also been discovered hidden in plain sight behind the Great Barrier Reef.