Great Barrier Reef, the wonder of the world, created by nature, stretches along the north-east coast of Australia on 2,500 km.
It is the largest reef in the earth formed the vital functions of tiny beings - coral polyps.
Spread on a huge area of almost 345,000 square kilometers, the Great Barrier Reef is a unique ecosystem, the like of which no longer in any corner of the globe.
History reef formation
Once modern Australian continent waspart of Antarctica, and the water around it was too cold for coral life. But about 65 million years ago on the world map has been immense change: Australia split from Antarctica and began to move north. Moving to the tropics continent coincided with rising sea levels, and this has led to the creation of ideal conditions for the growth and propagation of corals.
Reef-building corals can exist only in theshallow water in salt water temperature no lower than 18 ° C, but the ideal temperature for the growth of coral is considered 22-27oS. That is why the Great Barrier Reef is bounded on the south of the Tropic of Capricorn - getting too cold for them. In the north end of the island of coral off the coast of New Guinea, where the river empties into the ocean Fly and desalinate water.
The main backbone of the reef was formed in the territory,once served as a watershed for the now flooded rivers. The oldest parts of the reef, scientists determined in 400 thousand years old, and the youngest reefs are built on top of the old over the past 200 years. The main period of formation of the Great Barrier Reef dates back to 8000 years ago.
The Great Barrier Reef is composed of 2900 individualreefs of various sizes, which are surrounded by barriers of a plurality of islands. Between the reef and the shore stretches a huge lagoon kilometer shoals.
The inhabitants of the coral islands
Great Barrier Reef included in the UNESCO listWorld Heritage, and is part of the territory of the Marine National Park. This is due not only to the uniqueness of the object itself, but also the fact that the Reef is the world's largest ecosystem, populated by amazing inhabitants of many different types and forms.
The reef is composed of 400 species of coral in all colorsrainbow, which are habitat for 1,500 species of fish. Of these, 500 species are exceptionally reef, that is adapted to life in the only place in the world.
It was here in June and August sailHumpback whales in order to breed. The southern part of the reef is used for breeding sea turtles, all seven species of which are threatened with extinction. It is home to the biggest fish in the world - the whale shark feeds only on plankton, hunting whales and dolphins. A huge number of species of crustaceans: crabs, shrimp, crayfish, lobster found shelter in coral thickets. In addition, on the reef settle huge bird colonies.
The wonderful world of the Great Barrier Reef attractstourists and divers from around the world. Employees of the Maritime National Park territory was divided into six zones of the reef, not all of which are available to tourists. This is due to the fact that the ecosystem is extremely fragile coral islands and also anthropogenic impacts, is threatened by hurricanes, changes in temperature and salinity of sea water and sea stars that eat coral polyps.