The Coral Sea

The coral sea is a vast, coral laden area of the ocean located in Eastern Australia. The coral sea was formed when tectonic forces pushed up the seabed and created islands later eroded by wind and waves. This process continues today as coral is broken down to form new sand on beaches.

Many people are unaware that many different types of coral reef formations are found along the edge of the coral sea coastline. These include fringing reefs, barrier reefs, atolls, and patch reefs, among others!

The coral sea is one of the most beautiful oceans in the world. It has a history that can be traced back to ancient times, and it also has a location that’s not too far from Australia.

Coral sea

The coral sea contains some of the most diverse types of coral and other aquatic life like dolphins, sharks, and whales. This blog post will discuss these mysteries so you can learn more about this incredible part of Earth!

How was the Coral Sea Formed?

The coral sea was formed when tectonic plates shifted approximately 180 million years ago. As they did so, a large amount of sandstone from Queensland moved over several tens of kilometres to create this region which would become known later as “the coral sea.””

Over time, additional shifting occurred in the Earth’s surface, allowing for further development into what we see today. About 9000 islands lie within the coral sea, with only 25% recognised or named by locals and visitors alike.

Coral sea

Where is the Coral Sea located?

The Coral Sea is located northeast off the coast of Queensland, Australia, along the Great Barrier Reef. The closest major city would be Cairns. This region has been described as being the least impacted coastal system in the world.

Elizabeth reef coral sea
Elizabeth reef coral sea

Types of Corals Found In The Coral Sea?

There are over 6000 species of coral found throughout various oceans worldwide. Still, I would like to focus on some common types you will find in this area: A variety of table corals such as hard or staghorn corals (Acropora), small coral colonies like coral whips (Leptastrea), giant mounds of coral known as brain corals (Pavona) and individual blade-like coral called star coral.

Types of Coral Sea Aquatic Life?

There are many types of aquatic life in this region, but I will mention a few: Sharks, Rays, Crabs such as blue swimmer crab or the yellow-spotted box crab & Prawns. The coral sea is also home to some beautiful tropical fish, including trumpetfish, sergeant major damselfish and parrotfish!

Coral sea

Most coral sea aquatic life comprises molluscs, crustaceans, and fish such as sharks, rays and whales.

Still, there is a vast array of other species that call this region home, including corals themselves which can be broken down into four main categories: tabulate coral (a type formed by algae), branched coral (forms like bottle brushes under the water surface), non-living coral (some reefs here have been around for over 20 million years!), and brain coral – named so because it looks exactly like your brain!

Other types of Coral Sea Aquatic Life Include:

Barracuda, giant trevally, grey reef shark, blacktip reef shark, clownfish or anemonefish, queen triggerfish, Mado or marble eye snapper (formerly known as blue spot), red bass. There are many other varieties, including tuna and mackerel, which can be found in abundance here.

Coral sea

The coral itself creates a habitat for small tropical marine life such as squid, cuttlefish etc. Some of these creatures live inside the coral heads themselves! Schools of smaller striped bream move through this system frequently, especially when chasing prey like fry from eggs laid by larger predators. This creates an ecosystem that supports larger predator species like coral trout.

The great barrier reef queensland

The Great Barrier Reef – The Largest Coral Reef On The Planet

The Great Barrier Reef is a coral reef system in the Coral Sea. It is the world’s largest coral reef. It is only constructed of coral and coral sand because it begins at the surface of the ocean floor; its complementary living ecosystem includes 1,625 different identified coral species, with recent estimates giving near 15,000.

Its size can be estimated as stretching from 100 to 150 million hectares (250,000 square miles or 697 thousand kilometres). The Great Barrier Reef experience counts for around 70% of live corals left on Earth.

The great barrier reef queensland

Diversity

Another reason for this diversity is that coral reefs provide a home to many migrating fish from all over the Pacific Ocean. The sheer volume of marine life located in the Great Barrier Reef is phenomenal.

Where is the Great Barrier Reef Located?

The Great Barrier Reef covers more than 350,000 square kilometres of ocean off the coast of Australia in a triangular shape with large sections extending north to Papua New Guinea and south towards Brisbane. The reef is an expansive location nestled along the Queensland coastline, stretching from Brisbane to the northern sections of the coastline. It is located on the northeastern side of Australia in the Western Pacific.

The great barrier reef queensland

Why is the Great Barrier Reef so unique?

The Great Barrier Reef Is One of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World
The Great Barrier Reef is the only living coral reef that can be seen from outer space. Some parts of the coral reef are over 1000 years old and cover an area greater than Greenland.

Reefs protect the coastline from erosion, provide food for all marine life, plus thousands of jobs and billions in tourism dollars when it’s healthy. The Great Barrier Reef supports habitats for 3000 types of sponges, 1500 varieties of coral, 192 breeds of fish and more than 150 species threatened with extinction.

The great barrier reef queensland

Two-thirds of its coral is too deep to reach by ocean waste, making it a vital breeding ground for countless marine species, so many that 90% don’t exist anywhere else on Earth! It’s a natural treasure trove that provides unique sub-tropical coral reef ecosystems for the world to enjoy.

One of the coral sea’s most notable features is its ability to produce calcium carbonate, which forms what we know as coral and gives it a unique colour pattern that comes in many shapes, sizes and varieties.

The great barrier reef queensland

You can see up close thousands upon thousands of different aquatic creatures on one tour alone, like giant clams (the biggest coral sea mollusc), anemones, clownfish and more. This makes them extremely valuable ecologically speaking when you consider about 50% of Earth’s marine life here, such as whales, sharks, turtles, dolphins, and more than 1200 other types of fish! many are so rare they haven’t even been fully classified yet.

Problems The Great Barrier Reef Is Facing

The coral reef faces many issues that are causing the coral to die and the coral reef to break apart. One issue the coral reef faces is the effect of carbon dioxide. The coral needs calcium for growth. However, an increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the water causes coral to be more susceptible to acidic outgas from ocean acidification.

The great barrier reef queensland

Studies have found that coral reefs in areas with a high degree of acidification were not able to produce calcite.

  • Over Fishing
    • Another concern for coral reefs is being overfished. With overfishing, fish will swim away. After all, they feel unsafe coming up because they know they’ll get caught by people. Overfishing also causes an imbalance in the natural ecosystem, causing damage a chain reaction. This causes fish populations to decrease and the ecosystem balance to go out of whack. When coral reefs are left alone, fish populations do better, and coral can grow bigger.
  • Coral Bleaching
    • Coral bleaching is when coral loses its ability to produce its natural colours due to several factors. The most important being high temperatures, which kills coral by preventing them from feeding off the algae they need to grow. This is why coral bleaching can be so detrimental. It essentially starves coral and the ecosystem of the organisms that need the most sunlight to survive.
      • What causes coral bleaching? Coral bleach from high temperatures which prevents them from feeding off the algae they need to grow. Coral bleaching essentially starves coral and the ecosystem of the organisms that need the most sunlight to survive.
      • What are some potential solutions for coral bleaching?
        Some potential solutions for coral bleaching include coral farming which involves cultivating and harvesting coral reef fish or aquatic plants. Other possibilities include artificial breeding, restoration through transplants & gene editing, so we’re hopeful about the future for our oceans!
  • Coral Farming
    • Coral farming is a form of aquaculture involving the cultivation and harvest of coral reef fish or aquatic plants for commercial purposes, which can help to make coral reefs more sustainable and providing economic opportunities in areas where they otherwise didn’t exist before. However, the biggest problem with coral farming is that it’s not enough to restore natural coral ecosystems.
      • Where is coral farming done?
      • The biggest problem with coral farming is that it’s not enough to restore natural coral ecosystems. There’s also debate over whether or not it causes irreversible damage when you remove them from their original environment via this process. Several other methods are being studied as replacements, such as artificial breeding, restoration through transplants & gene editing, so we’re hopeful about what the future holds for our oceans!
  • Carbon dioxide levels increasing, which causes ocean acidification.
  • High temperatures due to climate changes cause stress on coral leading them more susceptible to bleaching or dying off. This occurs when an area has 50% mortality of coral.

The great barrier reef queensland

In summary: The coral reef faces many issues that will affect its growth and survival, including increasing carbon dioxide levels increasing which causes ocean acidification, being overfished, causing fish populations to decrease, which affects coral growth and other factors like increased temperatures with climate change.

These changes cause stress for coral reefs making them more susceptible to bleaching or dying off. This occurs when an area has 50% mortality of coral. Coral reefs are the largest structures on Earth composed of living organisms and need to be protected for coral reef life, including humans and being impacted by their loss.

The great barrier reef queensland

Great Barrier Reef Conservation

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority was created in the year 1975. This is a park that spans an area of 133,000 square kilometres. It also protects coral reefs that are found along this region.

Today, coral reef conservation has become much more critical because coral reefs have been on the decline as years go by due to factors such as ocean acidification and coral bleaching being some examples of why they continue to dwindle down here today.

The great barrier reef queensland

More About the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

In the year 1975, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority was created under the GBRMP Act. This commission aims to conserve and protect coral reefs in Australia, which are found along the Great Barrier Reef. Since coral reef conservation is a goal that’s of the utmost importance, many people work for this commission because coral reefs continue to dwindle today due to factors such as ocean acidification and coral bleaching.

Great barrier reef diving

Great Barrier Reef diving is a widespread activity that many people enjoy. The coral reefs and their coral are one of the most important attractions. The abundance of coral species here means there is a wide range of coral to explore and discover.

The great barrier reef queensland

Around the coral sea, there are coral reefs that provide great diving opportunities for tourists. The coral reef is one of the best tourist attractions in Queensland. The coral reef is a protected marine reserve. Tourism has increased around this coral reef since it has been made into a protected area. It attracts about 2 million tourists each year.

Great barrier tourism

Coral reef tourism is not only an excellent way for people to see all the coral reefs. It is also a vital economic force for the region. Tourism accounts for 16% of the economy in Queensland, Australia.

One coral reef that has been very popular with tourists is The Great Barrier Reef. This coral reef stretches for 2,600 miles and is home to 100s of species of coral and thousands of fish. It covers an area that is bigger than California and Texas combined.

The coral reef in North Queensland is one of the most famous coral reefs because it’s close to Cairns and other major cities on Queensland’s coastline, allowing tourists to visit and go on tours or diving.

The great barrier reef queensland

FAQ

What are coral reefs?

Coral reefs are underwater structures created by coral polyps. They form a barrier that is home to millions of aquatic species such as sea turtles and sharks. What types of coral exist in the coral sea?

Coral reefs are coral structures that form the complex coral ecosystem. These coral structures are most often found in warm, shallow, tropical oceans. There are several different types of coral reefs. The coral reefs with the most incredible biodiversity and the most significant number of coral species, including reef-building corals, live on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.

Coral seas are located on continental shelf coral reefs and atolls surrounding natural islands formed by coral growth. Other coral seas include those around Indonesia like the Banda Sea and the Celebes Sea and many other smaller gulfs and bays across the Asia Pacific, including parts of China, Japan, Philippines, and Papua New Guinea, to name a few!

The great barrier reef queensland

How are coral reefs formed?

Coral reefs are actually created by coral polyps. These coral polyps secrete a hard calcium carbonate when they die to form coral which then traps sand and shells brought in by the ocean currents to create solid structures known as coral heads.

Coral Reefs can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Still, only about one-quarter of coral reef species exist today compared with their original numbers from millions of years ago before humans lived on Earth.

Where do most corals grow?

Most corals grow throughout shallow lagoons along with fringing reefs near coral atolls. Coral reefs grow best in warm, shallow water with lots of sunlight and a wide range of ocean depth within the littoral zone from just above low tide to about 60 feet deep.

Video Courtesy of National Geographic

Further Reading

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