Just off the coast of Australia sits one of the most diverse, wondrous, and extremely important habitats on Planet Earth: the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately, according to recent news, the Great Barrier Reef is in real danger. Thanks to the one-two punch of abnormally warm waters and climate change, as much as 93 percent of the Reef is bleached. “When bleaching is this severe it affects almost all coral species, including old, slow-growing corals that once lost will take decades or longer to return,” says Andrew Baird of Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. What’s more, leading scientists say this kind of bleaching is 175 times likelier to occur due to human-caused climate change than any natural occurrence. The loss of so much of the Great Barrier Reef could be catastrophic the world over. This is not simply because of the damage it might do from an ecological standpoint, but because the Great Barrier Reef is one of the most fascinating pockets of life on Earth. Check out these facts (especially #16) to see what we mean.
1. It’s the Biggest Reef in the World
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. Stretching across an area of more than 133,000 square miles, the Great Barrier Reef encompasses more than 900 islands and 2,900 individual reefs. The reef is actually so large it can be seen from space. It is, without rival, the world’s largest structure made of living organisms.