This week, Australia has announced that they will pledging more than $500 million ($379 million U.S.) to save and preserve the Great Barrier Reef from the increasingly dangerous effects of climate change. The site, which is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the world’s largest reef, with over 400 different types of coral, 1,500 species of fish, and 4,000 types of mollusc. It is also the home to both the large green turtle and the dugong, both of which are threatened with extinction.
Awareness to the coral reefs has been growing for a decade with oceans temperatures continually rising. Aerial surveys have also revealed that two-thirds of the coral has experienced “shocking” amounts of bleaching, which is the expulsion of algae, the coral’s main energy source, from inside the coral. If ocean temperatures continue to rise, the bleaching could be irreversible.
Australia’s pledge is also the largest investment in coral reef protection anywhere in the world, according to a press release, which also said, “Today’s investment brings real hope to the Great Barrier Reef. There is no doubt that our great living treasure is under enormous threat from climate change and we must all work together to do everything possible to achieve the Paris Agreement. But while the world works to tackle climate change on a global scale, there are many things we can and must do to build the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef right now.”
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is one Australia’s most unique tourist attractions, and it’s destruction could mean the loss of billions of dollars to Australia’s economy, making the pledge to preservation a worthwhile investment for both Australia and for the world’s oceans.