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Regan Harsa
AP Language and Composition
13 December 2016
Australias Trouble
Pictures and comments focused on the death of the Great Barrier Reef have circulated
social media this year, but life prevails off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The worlds
largest, 300,000 square kilometer coral reef ecosystem, consisting of more than 600 islands, is
dying, but it is not dead-- yet. If Australia and the world want the Great Barrier Reef to remain a
major source of economic influx, and home to thousands of marine life, humanity must tread
lightly, because the next steps taken are the difference between the reefs life and death.
The destruction already caused has severely affected the enormous ecosystem that
occupies just 1% of the worlds marine environment, but provide[s] a home to a quarter of
marine species (Worland). Every thing and every organism contributes to the success of the
habitat. If one part is disrupted, such as the corals existence, the environment and system will
collapse. The coral provides shelter and food for all of the marine life living off the coast of
Queensland, Australia. The Great Barrier Reef provides a home for seven species of sea turtles,
one being severely endangered, the Hawksbill Turtle (Deutsche). In addition to the reefs
hospitality, it protects and assists in Australias and the worlds success.
The reef not only supports an ecosystem, it provides protection for Australias coast.
According to Michael Healey, tourism operator, in an interviewed with Hywel Griffith, without
the Great Barrier Reef we wouldnt survive. It absorbs most of the shock from violent waves
and storms, preventing erosion of beaches (Deutsche). In addition to the shield like powers, the

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reef generates a substantial amount of money for the tourism and fishing industries for Australia.
If the reef were to disappear, Australia's economy will suffer.
The reefs deterioration results from human activities and climate change. Death occurs
because corals can only survive within a narrow range of ocean temperatures (Deutsche). El
Nino brought warm waters to Queenslands and other Asian Island coasts disrupting the corals,
in Goldilocks terms, just right environment earlier this year. The warmer waters interfere with
the corals symbiosis with algae that grows with their tissues (Deutsche). When the water
warms, the coral expels the algae causing coral bleaching-- and coral death (Deutsche). The
northern part of the reef has greater damage than the southern section, already harming the
surrounding ecosystems. Due to its positioning, the northern coral reefs are the first to be
impacted by the warming waters spreading from Asian islands and through to the Coral Sea.
People understand what coral bleaching consists of and the toll it takes on the
surrounding environment. Although there is comprehension of the situation, some people see
coral bleached white and think it looks pretty. But this is what follows-- its the attack of the
slime (Smell of death hits Australias Great Barrier Reef: WWF). People dont understand
the full extent of coral bleaching. When an ecosystem dies, it is not a pretty sight. The northern
coral, and coral in the process of dying further down the coast, reeks of decomposing flesh of the
corals host leaving the reef (Smell of death). The reef stinks of rotten animals and
organisms-- thats when you realize that the reefs are made up of billions of organisms,
according to Richard Vevers, a diver interviewed by Justin Worland. The recent deterioration is
due to the destruction of 600 different species of coral and thousands of animals that depend on

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the reef for survival (Deutsche). If bleaching continues down the coast, Queensland will be
known for its odor, not beauty.
The tourism industry is a major source of economic influx for Queenslands residents.
The Great Barrier Reefs tourism, according to Deutsche, employs nearly 70,000 people jobs
yearly and according to Worland, the reef provides $375 billion annually for local economies
and the world. Of the $375 billion total globally, $5.7 billion is generated solely from
Australias economy (Slezak). According to Dr. Steven Miles, The Great Barrier Reef resorts
are an iconic part of Queensland's tourism industry, however a number are unfortunately run
down and not operating due to the corals current condition (State Government to Look at
'rejuvenating' Rundown Resorts). These resorts are faced with an ethical dilemma: lie about the
reefs state or tell the truth and risk going out of business. Most have chosen the duteous route of
delivering the sad truth to the public, leaving it to the world, its leaders, and scientists to make
important decisions to save a valued industry.
Some public figures refuse to acknowledge the Great Barrier Reefs current condition,
one being Australian senator, Pauline Hanson. The senator, in an interview with Alice De La
Chapelle, disputes claims from the worlds leading scientists about the reefs bleaching events,
saying they are hurting the tourism industry. Understanding Hansons rationale doubt, she was
asked to join a group of scientists on a deep sea dive to the reef so she could witness the
catastrophe herself. After perusing the area, Hanson changed her tone slightly. According to
Hanson, If one Nation is worried about the reef they are visiting the wrong spot. They are
looking 1,000 kilometers away from where the action is (De La Chapelle). How ignorant can a

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public figure be towards a valued industry for Australias economy? Australia depends on the
reef, and Hanson seems to forget this.
As unlikely as it may sound, Hanson is partially right. The reef is still alive 1,000
kilometers away from where she originally dove, but for how long? The Great Barrier Reef is
enormous, taking days to survey. Surveys reveal its northern part has large amounts of dead
coral, yet the southern part has suffered minimal destruction. By interjecting that the scientists
are ruining tourism and refusing to accept the given fate of the Great Barrier Reef, Hanson is
indirectly killing the reef. Without any steps taken toward the betterment of a one-of-a-kind
ecosystem, death of the reef in its totality is inevitable. Ignoring the situation at hand does
nothing. Hanson makes these remarks in attempt to stop the rumors regarding its death and
maintain the billion dollar tourism industry, but by following her lead and doing nothing, death
will continue. The reef is infested with disease and parasites feeding off dead coral and spreading
south to healthy coral. Slowly, but surely, the reef is going to eventually die.
It is not too late to protect the fate of the Great Barrier Reef. Despite Hansons efforts to
dismiss the impact of coral bleaching and the habitats death, Australia has accepted the
gruesome facts and is investing $500 million toward protecting the reef and proper reef
management, but this is not enough (Lloyd). Global warming continues to bleach the coral,
damaging the reef. Farm pollution is smothering the coral and preventing photosynthesis.
Overfishing, industrialization and the expansion of ports, causing traffic, interferes with the
reefs balanced environment (Great Barrier Reef). If the world wants to maintain an ecosystem
as special as the Great Barrier Reef and maintain the present symbiotic relationship between the
reef and the world, action must be taken, laws need to be created, and recognition of wasteful

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behaviors, resulting in global warming and over industrialization, must be top priority. A
majestic billion dollar industry and world treasure needs help, and why shouldnt the world
answer its plea?

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Works Cited
De La Chapelle, Alice. "One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson Denies Coral Bleaching and Climate
Change." International Business Times UK. N.p., 27 Nov. 2016. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.
Deutsche Welle. "Why We Should Be Mourning Coral Death." DW.COM. N.p., 14 Oct. 2016. Web.
30 Nov. 2016.
"Great Barrier Reef." Conservation Of The Great Barrier Reef Australia - WWF - WWF-Australia.
N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.
Griffith, Hywel. "Great Barrier Reef Suffered Worst Bleaching on Record in 2016, Report Finds."
BBC News. BBC, 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
Lloyd, Graham. "Great Barrier Reef: Scientists 'exaggerated Coral Bleaching." The Australian. N.p.,
14 June 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
Slezak, Michael. "The Great Barrier Reef: A Catastrophe Laid Bare." Reef on the Brink. Guardian
News and Media, 06 June 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
"Smell of death hits Australia's Great Barrier Reef: WWF." Xinhua News Agency, 7 June 2016.
Global Issues in Context,
52&asid=866fa601d7802c60d08183d6231acc0e. Accessed 28 Nov. 2016.
"State Government to Look at 'rejuvenating' Rundown Resorts." Mackay Daily Mercury. N.p., 1
Aug. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
Worland, Justin. "Explore This Coral Reef Before It Disappears." Time. Time, n.d. Web. 30 Nov.