by KOBE HERNANDEZ
Located in Queensland, Australia, lies the world’s largest living organism, the Great Barrier Reef. But according to recent news, it was the largest living organism. According to a recent article posted on the New York Times, “Tears and the Great Barrier Reef,” the Great Barrier Reef was basically announced dead. Terry Hughes and students have been surveying the reef for a long time now. Apparently, Hughes had spent more than 30 hours last year collecting samples and analyzing it. Hughes admitted that he burst into tears when he came to a conclusion that reef was dead, or about to completely die. The loss of such a magnificent organism is truly something to be emotional about because it has died due to multiple human impacts.
The Great Barrier Reef died because of coral bleaching. Coral bleaching in summary is caused mainly by global warming. As the water temperature rises, the coral becomes stressed and expel the algae that they need, zooxanthellae. This type of algae gives the coral 90% of its energy that it needs to survive. Without this algae, the coral can’t get the Co2 and nutrients that it needs. This finally leads to the coral starving and giving a bleached look in the coral. This process is what killed 90% of the reef, and it’s certainly not the only one that has been affected by it.
The loss of this reef leads to the loss of millions of species of aquatic animals such as sharks, turtles, reef fish, octopi, and countless other species. Not only that, the loss of tourism income would surely affect Australia negatively. However, what’s really more alarming than that is possibly the death of many people who rely on these wonderful fish for protein and just food in general. Last but not least, it is truly a depressing loss considering that the reef is approximately 500,000 years old, and was the biggest coral in the world consisting of countless organisms. This loss really does show how human impact on ecosystems needs to change for the better.