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Great Barrier Reef

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Submitted By connie48
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The Great Barrier Reef Ecosystem
Biotic, Abiotic and Human

The ecosystem I have selected to review is that of the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is located in north eastern Australia off the coast of Queensland. It's a nearly 2,000 kilometer long natural wonderland of coral and sea life. A natural coral reef is a very fragile environment with many biotic and abiotic components working in a perfect harmony. Because of this balance, reefs are susceptible to natural variances, outside pollutants and human recklessness.

Map of the Great Barrier Reef

Biotic components that make up the Great Barrier Reef include all of the living plants, the coral itself and a multitude of animals that live in the coral. Nonliving factors make up the Abiotic component of the Great Barrier Reef, these includes physical influences such as temperature of the water, lighting and nutrients found in the water (these nutrients feed the coral and fish) Both abiotic and biotic have to work together in order for the ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef to survive.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest reef system and can be seen from space Humans civilization has also impacted the reef ecosystem. Farm land that borders the Great Barrier Reef often uses fertilizer that gets washed into the sea killing sea life and coral. Factories near the reef can put off pollutants into the soil, air, rivers, and other water sources. Fishing if done improperly such as with "dynamite, cyanide; trawling in coral-rich ecosystems; and the use of ozone-depleting refrigerants, as well the dumping of plastic nets and debris, which are hazardous to sea turtles and other endangered species."(Zinni, 1999-2013) People living near the reef also generate large amounts of garbage and waste. Not just grocery garbage, but pollutants such as car and industrial exhaust can have a huge impact the ecosystem. These pollutants can and do actually kill the coral causing the reef to shrink and slowly die.

A Vibrant Healthy Coral Reef (Photograph: Mark Conlin/Alamy)

An unhealthy / damaged Reef (Photograph: NOAA) The human impact to the Great Barrier Reef could potentially have a catastrophic outcome If we don't change the way we look at our responsibilities as guardians of nature. I predict that the Great Barrier Reef will continue to die off without common sense measures to protect this wonder of nature. The Economy of Queensland relies heavily on tourism and would certainly struggle without the income brought in by the reef. The Marine Park itself employs thousands, without tourism those jobs will be gone. A few guidelines that might help preserve the ecosystem are really only common sense measure. With just a little education, I'm sure the population would be happy to do just a little extra to help save their natural heritage. For instance, don't throw garbage in the ocean, duh. Inform people that if they washed their cars over grass rather than in the street, it would ensure the soap doesn't go down the storm drain. Encourage farmers to stop using such harsh fertilizers. Regulate the development of land near the reef to ensure ecologically safe construction and land use methods are being applied. Lastly, monitoring and educating the tourist of the fragile nature of the reef, to ensure that people are not stepping on the coral or disrupting the sea life or taking souvenirs.

References
Zinni, Y. (1999-2013). Human activities that affect the ecosystem. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/info_8133842_human-activities-affect-ecosystem.html

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