Barrier Reef is a photosynthetic community of corals and animals that have been isolated from the currents triggering anoxic melting of continental Antarctic ice shelves. They form huge reefs hundreds of metres across and have important ecological functions: filter of nutrients, supply of drinking water and shelter from lighting and volcanic eruptions.
Barrier reefs are habitats of global importance, yet they are relatively unknown to most people. Preventative measures and mitigation measures should be put in place to slowly degrade this fragile ecosystem. The groundwork for achieving this is beginning to be laid by several international bodies and its efforts should be encouraged at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and individuals.
What does a barrier reef consist of?
Barrier reefs consist of a mostly dry reef surrounded by softer, morespongy coral communities. This reef zone is surrounded by shallow sandy zones and deeper coral reefs. The reef has very little resident life but provides an important food source for many marine species (in fact, the top predator on the reef is the giant urchin, Paralichthys polyhedrosis) and bycatch from fisheries (such as tuna nets and bottom trawlers from around the world). Changes in salinity due to climate change may affect this fishing activity.
Barrier reefs are the world’s largest collection of single-celled organisms, found in shallow water in nearly 400 locations across more than 10 countries. These organisms are typically found between 0 and 1 meter (3.3 and 5 feet) above sea level. From our perspective on land, they form a backdrop for the magnificent Pacific Ocean scenery.
The term barrier reef is often used in reference to coral reefs, but what it actually refers to is an underwater mountain range. Neither coral nor reef is the correct term, as the term is broader than either of these environments. Barrier reefs are areas where one or more bodies of water meet another, forming a coastline or an island. These sorts of features are found around the world in places like the Grand Banks of Canada and Great Barrier Reef in Australia. While they are some of our planet’s most famous natural treasures, a placental barrier reef is nothing like the biological superstructures we know as coral reefs and in fact may not even be a true reef at all (see diagram below).
Barrier reefs form an important part of the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site located in Queensland, Australia. It is the largest coral reef system on Earth and home to more than 400 types of corals and an awesome variety of marine life including about 6,000 types of fish. The reef is also home to endangered species such as the flying fox and the giant variations in shape and size of these species make them highly sought after by divers willing to brave the sometimes rough waters of this complex ecosystem.
The barrier reef is made up of more than 2.5 million tiny clams that are living symbiotically with one another. All they need is copepods, snails, and an occasional butterfly or two to survive.
Categories: Environment and Ecology