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|Subject: Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland 13/11/2010, 8:07 pm|| |
The Great Barrier Reef of Australia is an extensive complex ofislets, shoals and, of course, coral reefs. It is located off ofAustralia’s northeastern coastline in the Pacific Ocean. The Reefexpands over 1,250 miles to the northwest-southeast, at about 10 to 100miles offshore, and is about 135,00 square miles in area. This wonderhas been characterized as the biggest structure that living creatureshave ever built.There are actually 2,100 reefs and 800 fringing reefs around theGreat Barrier Reef. All of the reefs, however, share a common origin.They have all been formed from the skeletal waste and skeletons of aliving marine organism mass over the course of millions of years. Theframework of the reef is formed from tiny creatures’ calcareousremains, which are known as hydro corals and coral polyps, andbryozoans and coralline algae are what holds it all together.At the Great Barrier Reef, at least 300 different species of hardcoral, worms, sponges, anemones, crabs, prawns, crayfish, lobsters,gastropods, and a wide variety of other fish, as well as birds, can befound. The crown-of-thorns-starfish is actually the reef’s mostdestructive animal, which has decreased the attraction and color ofmuch the reefs due to feeding on a lot of the coral that is alive.The Porolithon and Lithothamnion red algae forms most of thecharacteristic features of the Great Barrier Reef, and Halimeda greenalgae can be found nearly everywhere. On the surface, there isn’t asmuch plant life, with only 30 to 40 different species.