The last part of our trip in Australia we spent in Cairns. It was much warmer than in Sydney, with the temperature remaining around 80 degrees the whole time. The first day we were there, we spent at the Great Barrier Reef. We took a boat for about an hour and a half out to the middle of the ocean where the reef was located. The weather was pretty choppy and majority of the boat got sick. When we finally reached our destination, we were able to snorkel. It was my first time snorkeling so it was a learning experience at the first site. I probably swallowed half of the ocean in the process, but I learned my lesson and was ready for the next site. This one had a bigger area of the reef to see so I was glad the water was less choppy. Katie and I switched back and forth with our under water camera and we were able to take really cool pictures under water with the fish and the reef. The last stop we went to had a huge reef area and it was beautiful. There were more colors than there had been at the other locations. I was not sure I was going to go out on this site, but after I had I was so glad I had taken the time to do it. The next day we went to the Daintree Rainforest. Our first stop was to go in a boat in a river where there were crocodiles. The man driving it had them jump up and see how they were in action when they were hungry. The next thing we did was get to see some kangaroos and koalas again. They were really friendly and we were able to get really close to them. Later on, we went to a beach that was where the beach met the rainforest so it was really cool. Then we finally went to the rainforest, which was kind of cool but not as cool as I was expecting. The next day was our free day, and we decided to go skydiving. It was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had, and would recommend that every one do it at some point in their lives. The view of Cairns was amazing while we were falling and it was the highest one you can do in Australia. We freefell about 4000 feet and parachuted down another 10000 feet. Overall, I would say my time was well spent in Cairns.
After seeing how cool the Great Barrier Reef was in person, I decided to look more into its history. It is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometers or 1,400 miles. The Great Barrier Reef can actually be seen from outer space and is the single largest structure made my living organisms.
Although the marine authority in Australia seeks it after, there are still many environmental threats to the reef. The first is climate change. The ocean warming has lead to coral bleaching, making the reef less vibrant. Coral Bleaching also leads to increased risk of disease for the organisms that make up the reef. The next threat is pollution. The water quality is declining. This is due to runoff and farming practices that damage the reef as well. Additionally, loss of coastal wetland is an issue. This happens from a natural filter for toxins. Eutrophication is also a serious issue for the reef going forward. Farming fertilizer runoff releases nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium into the ocean, which limits nutrients and causes massive algal growth that further depletes oxygen available for other creatures that need it. This chain reaction gets bigger and bigger the longer it goes on. Sediment runoff is a significant issue, as well. This again is attached the runoff from farmers. Pesticides are an issue, too, because they contain toxins that are detrimental to the environment of the reef. Pollution from mining has caused toxins to hurt the reef, as well. Crown of thorns is a starfish that preys on coral polyps. Large outbreaks of these can devastate entire sections of the reef, and enough could destroy it significantly. Over fishing has been a substantial issue as well because it disrupts food chains of the reef and alters the ability of the organisms to get the food they need. Shipping accidents have also been a concern to the reef because there is a route through it that some feel is the best way to get to other nations. This can be a major cause of damage to the reef if there is an accident.
Sources: www.gbrmpa.gov.au/ & http://www.australia.com/explore/icons/great-barrier-reef.aspx