From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Great Barrier Reef
Mains level : Coral Reefs and their significance
Chinese official has said that political tensions between Beijing and Australia were not behind a UNESCO recommendation to place the Great Barrier Reef on its endangered list.
Great Barrier Reef
- The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
- It is stretched for over 2,300 kilometres over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres.
- The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
- It was world heritage listed in 1981 by UNESCO as the most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem on the planet.
Importance of Corals
Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth.
- They support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species.
- This biodiversity is considered key to finding new medicines for the 21st century.
- Medical use: Many drugs are now being developed from coral reef animals and plants as possible cures for cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses, and other diseases.
- Fisheries: Healthy coral reefs support commercial and subsistence fisheries as well as jobs and businesses through tourism and recreation.
- Local economies receive billions of dollars from visitors to reefs through diving tours, recreational fishing trips, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses based near reef ecosystems.
- Coral reef structures also buffer shorelines against 97 per cent of the energy from waves, storms, and floods, helping to prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion.
Answer this PYQ in the comment box:
Q.Consider the following statements:
- Most of the world’s coral reefs are in tropical waters.
- More than one-third of the world’s coral reefs are located in the territories of Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
- Coral reefs host far more number of animal phyla than those hosted by tropical rainforests.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1 and 3 only
Back2Basisc: Coral Reef
- Coral reefs are built by and made up of thousands of tiny animals—coral “polyps”—that are related to anemones and jellyfish.
- Polyps are shallow-water organisms that have a soft body covered by a calcareous skeleton. The polyps extract calcium salts from seawater to form these hard skeletons.
- The polyps live in colonies fastened to the rocky seafloor.
- The tubular skeletons grow upwards and outwards as a cemented calcareous rocky mass collectively called corals.
- When the coral polyps die, they shed their skeleton on which new polyps grow.
- The cycle is repeated for millions of years leading to the accumulation of layers of corals shallow rock created by these depositions is called a reef.