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New 7 Wonders of Nature Nominees

 

 

 

New 7 Natural Wonders of the World

New Seven Wonders of Nature-One of 28 nominees. Winners will be announced in 2011.

 

Great Barrier Reef
The reef actually consists of some 2,100 individual reefs and some 800 fringing reefs (formed around islands or bordering coastlines).
Papua New Guinea, Australia
New Seven Wonders of Nature
7 Wonders of the Underwater World
Coordinates-18° 17' 10 S, 147° 42' 0 E
European exploration of the reef began in 1770, when the British explorer Captain James Cook ran his ship aground on it. The work of charting channels and passages through the maze of reefs, begun by Cook, continued during the 19th century. The Great Barrier Reef Expedition of 1928–29 contributed important knowledge about coral physiology and the ecology of coral reefs.[3]
Great Barrier Reef Slideshow
Cuttlefish, Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia [1]

 

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs[3] and 900 islands stretching for over 3,000 kilometres (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. The Great Barrier Reef supports a wide diversity of life, and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. CNN has labelled it one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. The Queensland National Trust has named it a state icon of Queensland.

A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of

human use, such as overfishing and tourism. Other environmental pressures to the reef and its ecosystem include water quality from runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, and cyclic outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish.

The Great Barrier Reef has long been known to and utilised by the Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and is an important part of local groups' cultures and spirituality. The reef is a very popular destination for tourists, especially in the Whitsundays and Cairns regions. Tourism is also an important economic activity for the region. Fishing also occurs in the region, generating AU$ 1 billion per year.

Ecology
The Great Barrier Reef supports a diversity of life, including many vulnerable or endangered species, some of which may be endemic to the reef system.


Green sea turtle on the Great Barrier ReefThirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded in the Great Barrier Reef, including the dwarf minke whale, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, and the humpback whale. Large populations of dugongs live there.

Six species of sea turtles come to the reef to breed – the green sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, flatback turtle, and the olive ridley. The green sea turtles on the Great Barrier Reef have two genetically distinct populations, one in the northern part of the reef and the other in the southern part. Fifteen species of seagrass in beds attract the dugongs and turtles, and provide a habitat for fish. The most common genera of seagrasses are Halophila and Halodule.

Saltwater crocodiles live in mangrove and salt marshes on the coast near the reef. Nesting has not been reported, and the salt water crocodile population in the GBRWHA is wide-ranging and with a low population density. Around 125 species of shark, stingray, skates or chimera live on the reef. Close to 5,000 species of mollusc have been recorded on the reef, including the giant clam and various nudibranchs and cone snails. Forty-nine species of pipefish and nine species of seahorse have been recorded. At least seven species of frog can be found on the islands.

215 species of birds (including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds) are attracted to the reef or nest or roost on the islands, including the white-bellied sea eagle and roseate tern.[32] Most nesting sites are on islands in the northern and southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef, with 1.4-1.7 million birds using the sites to breed. The islands of the Great Barrier Reef also support 2,195 known plant species; three of these are endemic. The northern islands have 300-350 plant species which tend to be woody, whereas the southern islands have 200 which tend to be herbaceous; the Whitsunday region is the most diverse, supporting 1,141 species. The plant species are spread by birds.

Seventeen species of sea snake live on the Great Barrier Reef. They take three or four years to reach sexual maturity and are long-lived but with low fertility. They are usually benthos, but the species that live on the soft sediment differ from those that live on the reefs themselves. They live in warm waters up to 50 metres (164 ft) deep and are more common in the southern than in the northern part of the reef. None of the sea snakes found in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area are endemic to the reef, nor are any of them endangered.

More than 1,500 species of fish live on the reef, including the clownfish, red bass, red-throat emperor, and several species of snapper and coral trout. Forty-nine species are known to mass spawn, with eighty-four other species found on the reef spawning elsewhere in their range.

There are at least 330 species of ascidians found on the reef system, ranging in size from 1 mm-10 cm (0.04–4 in) in diameter. Between 300-500 species of bryozoans are found on the reef system.

Four hundred species of corals, both hard corals and soft corals are found on the reef. The majority of these spawn gametes, breeding in mass spawning events that are controlled by the rising sea temperatures of spring and summer, the lunar cycle, and the diurnal cycle. Reefs in the inner Great Barrier Reef spawn during the week after the full moon in October, but the outer reefs spawn in November and December. The common soft corals on the Great Barrier Reef belong to 36 genera. Five hundred species of marine algae or seaweed live on the reef, including thirteen species of the genus Halimeda, which deposit calcareous mounds up to 100 metres (110 yd) wide, creating mini-ecosystems on their surface which have been compared to rainforest cover.[2]

Shane O takes a dive into one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

 

TravelChannelTV
August 11, 2008

The World Wonders .Com-visit 1,000 world wonders at www.theworldwonders.com

 

 
 
African
American
Asian
European
Oceanian
Others
 
   
 
   
28 finalists-7 winners will be announced in 2011

 

 

References
 
1. Flickr-Great Barrier Reef-Creative Commons Attribution License-retrieved 7/25/2009
2. Wikipedia-Great Barrier Reef-retrieved 7/25/2009
3."Great Barrier Reef." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
 
 Wikipedia  text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

 

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