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Great Barrier Reef
Category: Landmarks

The reef is located in the Coral Sea off the north coast of Queensland in Australia. There are over 2000 kilometers long and can be seen from space. The reef covers an area of 345 400 km² and is made of coral. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reves structure made up of billions of tiny organisms, known as corals. The Great Barrier Reef supports a wide diversity of life, and has become even announced as part of world heritage by UNESCO in 1981. CNN has labeled it as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Queensland National Trust has named it a state icon of Queensland. A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The first European explorer who found the reef was James Cook who discovered it when he ran aground 11 June 1770.

Australia has moved northwards at a rate of 7 cm per year, and it started during the Cenozoic. Eastern Australia experienced a period of tectonic uplift leading to drainage of parts of Queensland and moved the 400 km inland. In this period also occurred several volcanic eruptions. Some of these outbreaks have formed islands. After the Coral Sea was formed, coral reefs began to grow in the pool. But until about 25 million years ago, was still north Queensland in temperate waters south of the tropics and too cold to support coral growth. The history of the development of the Great Barrier Reef is ready, after Queensland drifted into tropical waters, the story is largely influenced by how reefs oscillating (increased and decreased) by changes in sea level.

The Great Barrier Reef supports a diversity of life, including many vulnerable and endangered species. In the reef, there are over 1500 species of fish, 4000 types of mollusc and 350 types of coral. Thirty species of whales, dolphins and porpoises have been recorded, including Dwarf Right Whales and Humpback whales. Large populations of dugongs also dwells there.

Six species of sea turtles come to the reef - among others Soup turtles and leatherback turtle. Soup turtles have two populations, one in the northern part of the reef and the other in the south. Fifteen species of seagrass attracts dugongs and turtles, and provide a good habitat for fish. The most common species of seagrasses are Halophila and Halodule.

Saltwater Crocodiles live in mangroves on the coast near the reefs. Around 125 species of sharks, stingrays and skates live on the reef. 5000 species of molluscs have been recorded on the reef, including giant clams and various nudibranchs and other marine gastropods. 49 species of pipe fish and nine species of seahorse have been recorded. At least seven species of frog found on the islands.

215 bird species (including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds) are attracted to the reefs where they nest. Among other Hvitmaget eagles and Rose Tern. Most nesting sites are on islands in the northern and southern part of the Great Barrier Reef, with 1.4-1700000 birds nesting. Islands in and around the Great Barrier Reef has 2195 known plant species, three of which are endemic.

17 species of sea snakes live on the reef. It takes three or four years for the snakes to reach sexual maturity, they have a long life, but with low fertility. They live in warm waters up to 50 meters deep. None of havslangene that is found on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area are endemic to the reef, nor none of them threatened.

At least 330 species of tunicates in torn, ranging in size from 1 to 100 mm in diameter, and between 300-500 species of bryozoans are found. Scientists fear that the corals will die because of global warming, because they are so vulnerable to temperature changes.

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