Great Barrier Reef is dead. Not just bleached out of the organisms that gave the World Heritage Site its picturesque colours, but dead. And we are to be blamed for killing millions of harmless creatures that collaborated to form one of the richest ecosystems in the world. We are to be blamed for destroying the very thing that we ‘claimed’ to protect. We are to be blamed for killing the Great Barrier Reef!
Great Barrier Reef was formed nearly 25 million years ago by corals growing on dead corals forming a wall-like structure under water. The site that houses nearly 1,500 species of fish, 400 species of coral , 4,000 species of mollusc, 242 species of birds and 6 species of marine turtle, was doing fine for 99 percent of its lifetime until it was discovered by humans.
We always destroy the thing we love the most. Though Oscar Wilde wrote this quote in an entirely different context, it finds relevance even today.
The slow but steady process of the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef began in 1960s, when the government of Queensland released nearly 920 square-mile of the area for oil and mineral exploration. The decision not only opened doors for an ambitious project but also for wide-spread protests by the activists who believed that it would end up damaging the environment.
Though the project was stopped, the Australian government kept on carrying similar exploration in the name of scientific research. The tipping point of the continued damage became visible in 1981 when first-ever mass bleaching incident was reported. After that, there was no undoing to the damage that the world’s largest living structure had endured over the years.
By the turn of the millennium, mass bleachings became common. The vicious circle further deepened with a giant oil spill in 2010 by a Chinese drilling project. The incident scarred a 3 Km stretch of the beautiful body. The crisis worsened in April 2016 when the government of Queensland approved Australia’s biggest coal mine in the Great Barrier Reef.
After prolonged damage that this structure endured, GBR bid adieu to the world in October 2016, leaving behind a lull in the ocean.
Here’s our final goodbye to the Great Barrier Reef.