Great Barrier Reef #1
The quirky stories of the
First, Did you know that the GBR...
*is the only structure built by living organisms that can be seen from outer space
*is the largest coral reef in the world (2600 km long with an area of 344 400 km2 )
*has been listed a World Heritage Area since 1981
Let's start with the basics
The GBR is composed with more than 500 species of coral. Often called "rainforests of the sea", coral reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth.
In Australia, the GBR provides a home for more than 1500 species of fish, 30 species of whales and dolphins and 6 of the 7 turtle’s species in the world live here!
The coral is not a plant but an animal, it’s like a jelly fish which lives upside down. The normal color is white but an algae lives in the coral and gives him a color. That’s why they can be blue, purple, yellow, green, pink and so on.
Plant or Animal ?
Hard & Soft
There are two types of coral: hard and soft species with very diverse shapes: boulders, mushroom, plates, branches, vases…some of them look exactly like big lettuce in the sea!
Once a year, in November, for 3 to 6 nights following the full moon, corals are breeding. Per pair, they come to an agreement and decide to reproduce themselves, we call this “the clowning”.
Life in the Reef
Rule N°1: Camouflage is the dress code
This is the most important rule to survive.
The stingrays hide in the bottom of the sea, buried itself in the sand.
Nemo stays closed from his anemone, in case of danger, he hides himself in it!
The stonefish is really good at camouflage too. Watch your step while scuba diving, it is the most venomous fish in the GBR, step on it and you will suffer horrible pain for at least 6 months…
But the winner in this “fashion show” is the cuttlefish, often referred to as the "chameleon of the sea" because of its remarkable ability to rapidly alter its skin color at will!! Cuttlefish change color and pattern (including of light polarisation and even texture) to camouflage themselves, to warn off potential predators and also to communicate to other cuttlefish. How cool is that?!
Some marine creatures don’t follow the rule, like the sea star (or starfish). Totally covered with a bright color, they are immobile…you wonder how they survive out there?! Actually, they are fully toxic and nobody dares eating them! Their bright color could be appealing but the fish knows, so the sea stars can lie peacefully on coral without danger!
Rule N°2: Life is not always easy underwater
Everyone knows the expression “be like a fish in water”, but not only fish lives in the deep ocean and some other marine creatures don’t really have a fulfilling life…
The sea cucumber is a perfect example of a shitty life… it looks like a big sausage and lies on the sea floor. First, it’s ugly. Second, it can’t defend itself. Third, it eats the poo of the others and has the big duty to clean the whole sea, it is a real vacuum cleaner! Last but not least, pearl fish haven’t found a better place to live in yet. They hide inside of the sea cucumber and how they do that? They come in its butt… and the sea cucumber can’t say a word! So next time you are complaining your life is not as good as you would like, think of the poor sea cucumber and I’m sure your day will be better!
Videos on this weird creature :
Rule N°3: Love matters even for fish
Did you know that the barred rabbit fish, apart from being very venomous, live in pair for their entire life?
Once one of the duo dies, the other one stops eating until the death…
If you are in Cairns, I higly recommend you to visit Reef teach, you will just have so much fun while learning a lot about the Great Barrier Reef. Gareth is amazing and so funny! A must do before exploring the Reef.
What: Reef Teach Show
Where: Cairns 85 Lake Street
When: show every Tuesday to Saturday from 18:30 to 20:30