The Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea is the world’s biggest coral reef system and a hotspot for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts.

It has a diverse range of coral species spread over a vast expanse of 2300 km along the Queensland coast. However, the Great Barrier Reef isn’t immune to the changing environmental conditions and is now in more danger than ever before.

It has been projected by some of the top scientists in the world that if no action is taken, the Great Barrier Reef might disappear by 2050! This is why some junk removal companies pay special attention to the proper disposal of garbage.

20 Facts About Waste In Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Oil Spills And Chemical Leakages Ruin The Corals

1. Since the reef is an extremely popular tourist destination and draws in swarms of watersport enthusiasts each year, a lot of ships pass through the area. And contrary to popular belief, shipping accidents are fairly common. Any accident in the area leads to a spillover of harmful chemicals into the water, thereby damaging the corals.

2. Despite the relatively low instances of oil spills and fuel leakage, a major incident of the sort in 2009 severely damaged the reefs. Thus, this is one of the ways in which humans continue to threaten the safety of the corals.

Improper Waste Disposal Is A Threat To Marine Life

3. The Great Barrier reef is home to six out of seven species of marine turtles. However, over the years, the reef has ceased to be a viable home for them since the instances of turtles being stranded are on the rise. Stranded turtles are ones that died due to an unfortunate death, illness, or injury.

4. Dredging and dumping into the sea suffocate the corals, and the World Wildlife Federation believes that endangered species living in the corals are at the greatest risk of dying out due to this.

5. What’s more, invasive species, such as the crown of thorns starfish, also add to the woes of the vulnerable organisms in the corals.

Reduction In The Size Of The Coral Reef

6. The coral reef has shrunk over the past few years, and the hard coral cover has significantly reduced from a 28% to a mere 13.8%. The decline is particularly acute toward the southern part of the coral reefs.

7. Due to global warming, the reef is more than half destroyed. Katrina Fabricus, an ecologist, has been studying the reef for years, and in 2012, she pointed out that half of the corals have been lost due to the effects of climate change and a subsequent rise in sea temperature. This is called coral bleaching, and it occurs when corals expel the algae that live in them and turn white.

8. In fact, The National Coral Bleaching Task Force in Australia revealed that 93% of the corals have bleached in some way or the other.

9. However, bleaching isn’t irreversible. It simply puts the corals at greater risk of death because it wipes out their primary food supply. But if the conditions leading to bleaching are brought back to normal, then the coral may be revived.

10. Moving on, 25% of the reefs in the northern section of the reef ecosystem are severely damaged. As a result, they risk losing about 83-99% of the corals. Since marine life depends on the corals for their survival, their continuous degradation poses a serious threat to marine biodiversity.

What Pollutes The Great Barrier Reef?

11. If environmental stressors and pollution weren’t enough, poor decision-making has further sped up the decline of the reef. In fact, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority gave the go-ahead to allow for the dumping of a million tons of dredge waste into the sea. The purpose of the same was to facilitate the expansion of the coal port. However, this short-sighted decision has led to a rise in coral disease and poses a threat to the marine environment.

12. Fourteen billion water bottles and plastic items find their way into the Australian seas each year.

13. The survey to find out the amount of plastic each year was carried out with help from all nations. But China wasn’t accounted for. So, imagine how much worse the damage actually is!

14. Studies estimate that by 2025, a whopping 15.7 billion bits of plastic coming from the Asia Pacific region will be stuck on the coral reefs.

15. Bottle caps and toothbrushes are major constituents of the plastic waste that washes into the sea every year. These toxic substances significantly threaten the survival of the reef because they smother corals and lead to their death. They also release toxic substances into the reef, especially pathogen microorganisms that hurt the body of the corals.

16. Moreover, a weird but fascinating fact is that the corals actually like the taste of plastic, even though it is harmful to them. Scientists have deduced that the taste of the chemicals in plastic bags is probably what entices the corals.

17. However, it must be noted that most of the pollution in the Great Barrier Reef can be attributed to chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.


18. Did you know that the reef almost died once? In the past, the melting of the ice caps and consequent glacial flooding led to a huge spike in sea levels. This almost obliterated it, and reef growth was resumed only when the water levels came down and stabilised.

19. Furthermore, corals only spawn once a year, usually right after a full moon. Thus, special care needs to be taken around the time of their reproduction to ensure their uninhibited growth.

20. Lastly, due to the environmental and cultural significance of the coral reef, it was added to the UNESCO‘S World Heritage List in 1981.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, rising sea temperatures, reckless agricultural activities, and careless waste disposal have wiped out most of the corals. As a result, UNESCO had even mulled over dropping it as a World Heritage Site, which would have been absolutely devastating for Australia. So, if we want our future generations to still be able to enjoy the beauty of these corals, then we must undertake reef restoration.

With this, we’ve come to the end of our article, and we’ll see you again soon with another cool blog post like this one!