Protecting the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is not only a natural wonder, but a diverse ecosystem that supports thousands of different plant and animal species.   According to marine biologist Robin Aiello, “There are more different species of animals and plants in a cubic meter of the Great Barrier Reef, than in any other environment in the world, including tropical rainforests” (gbrmpa, 2010).
The Great Barrier Reef is in need of help from the very people who are destroying it.   If we do not continue to protect and stop the damage we are doing to the environment, we will lose an important ecosystem.   The ramifications could affect every living creature, including humans.
Why is the Great Barrier Reef an important ecosystem in desperate need of protection?   The reef supports a diverse plant and animal life where if one species is harmed it affects the whole balance of the ecosystem. There are more than 1500 species of fish, which is at least 10% of the world’s fish population, 360 hard coral species, 4,000 mollusk species, and more than 4,000 species of sponges (UNESCO, 2010).   Plant life is also diverse in this fragile ecosystem.   There is 629 species of seaweed, which contain many substances useful to humans and provide many other species with food and shelter.   Birds, sharks, rays, and dugongs also call the reef home and many are protected species (gbrmpa, 2010).  
We have already begun to protect some species in the reefs ecosystem.   Six of the world’s seven types of sea turtles either live, feed, or breed here.   Many are protected because of the threat of extinction (gbrmpa, 2010).   Logger head turtles and humpback whales breed and nest at the Great Barrier Reef.   Extinction would not be far off if we allowed their breeding grounds to be destroyed.  
It is important to note that not only does the reef support these diverse animals and plants, but it supports humans as well.   According to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the reef generates about...