A patch of light glimmers from the distant shore. The water is blue, but a scuba diver is able to see their surroundings. They are able to see the life around them, and the atmosphere creates a feeling of astonishment as species of marine wildlife go by.

Those experiences have become merely memories, as the Great Barrier Reef has rapidly declined in the previous years. The vegetation isn’t the vibrant, beautiful display it used to be, and the scuba diver feels a sense of eeriness that they are more alone in the 132,974 square miles of sea.

The crisis among these reefs are beginning to become apparent around the globe. Reefs in the Great Barrier Reef and the Andros Barrier Reefs both show characteristics of declination. There is reasoning behind this declination because of human impact and other environmental actions that scientists continue to research. While the nearest barrier reef may be hundreds of miles away, more people are becoming aware and taking action to preserve the barrier reefs could result in better conditions for the reefs.

There are over 2,900 individual coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef. 845 of them were studied and recorded in data by “Data DryAd”. The mid-shelf location had the most live coral and the inshore locations have the least live coral.

 

 

 


The same reefs in the Great Barrier Reef from visual one is shown. Each of them show a declination in reef health over periods of five months. The Thetford Reef is an example of how the coral health is rapidly declining in reefs. The data shows that over the period of time between being tested and recorded, the amount of live coral has decreased.  On February 16, 2011, the living coral count was 142. Five months later, on July 15, 2011, the amount of living coral in the same latitude and longitude of the Thetford Reef was 133. There continues to be a declination as time passes.

Thetford Reef was made up of numerous coral bombora where you can experience some very exciting wall dives and many swim throughs. It is home to many soft and hard corals like stag horn and plate coral and an abundance of marine life. It is known for its many giant clams, butterfly fish, damsels and angelfish. Access to the reef is very weather and tidal dependent, though.

bahamas_regions_map

Andros is the green island on the map above. Source: Wikipedia Commons

Since the Great Barrier Reef is across the world and any other reef is not anywhere close, a group of students went on a trip to Andros to be surrounded by the beautiful nature and wildlife on the island, which inspired them to dig deeper into the learning done in the classroom back home. Andros is the largest island of the Bahamas and the fifth-largest island in the Caribbean. The trip was an experience unlike any other that gave the students many memories to bring home, including scuba diving and snorkeling in the Andros reefs.

Exploring the Andros reefs are a life-changing part of the trip for many participants, and the experience is a popular recommendation. With the problems surrounding the coral health of the reefs, it is devastating to think that in the near future students may not be able to see the reefs in their beauty for themselves. It is devastating to think that in the near future, the colorful, astonishing reefs we have taken for granted are simply a part of our planet’s history.

coral-reef

Scientists examine an area in the Great Barrier Reef. Source: Coral Reefs Blog- Rice University

On the whole, coral reef health continues to be a huge issue in coral reefs around the world, partially caused by humans. There are ways to prevent this and preserve beautiful marine nature that can be experienced by future generations.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) , the organization that oversees the reef, developed risk and impact plan to respond to the coral bleaching.

Also, many scientists around the world are working to reduce the human impact of coral health decrease. The Nature Conservancy, however, has shown that you don’t have to be a scientist to protect and potentially save the Great Barrier Reef. They have found it effective if earthlings conserve water, help reduce pollution, research what you put on your lawn, dispose of your trash properly, support reef friendly businesses, plant a tree, practice safe and responsible diving and snorkeling, volunteer for a coral reef cleanup, contacted government representatives and spread the word of the coral reef crisis.

If humanity can come together and work toward this cause, we could save our coral reefs before it is too late. If we can work to preserve what we already have, we will be changing the world for the better. Even the littlest decisions can help the 132,974 square miles of sea, and a patch of light will glimmer from the distant shore: things will start to look up for barrier reefs.