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International Year of the Reef

There are many reasons to get involved in the Year of the Reef and help protect the world’s vital coral reefs.

They cover less than 1% of the world’s ocean floors, but they support 25% of all marine life – over one million diverse aquatic species, including over 4000 species of fish and hundreds of species of coral. The global value of reefs is $2.7 trillion per year, including the tourism and food industries. Reefs provide coastal protection with a global net benefit of $9 million per year – reefs protect coastal housing, agricultural lands and beaches.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, including more than 2900 separate coral reefs. The GBR has 70 bioregions (broadscale habitats), 2000 square kilometres of mangroves (54% of world mangrove diversity), 6000 square kilometres of seagrass beds and 1050 islands. There are 1625 fish species, 450 species of coral, six of the world’s seven sea turtle species, and one of the world’s most important dugong populations.

Across the world coral reefs are in crisis. In Australia the Great Barrier Reef has been impacted by multiple bleaching events, tropical cyclones and crown of thorns starfish. Internationally, other coral reefs are suffering similar impacts.

2018 is the International Year of the Reef, and people across the world are working together to look after these vital ecosystems. Everyone can have a role in caring for our reefs. To find out what you can do visit the websites of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority or Citizens of the Reef.

(Source: GBRMPA http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au; IYOR https://www.iyor2018.org; accessed April 2018).

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