The Great Barrier Reef constitutes approximately 10 per cent of the earth’s coral reef environments, making it the largest coral reef ecosystem on the planet. This 2,300 km long marine environment can be seen from space, spanning from the northern tip of Queensland down to the north of Bundaberg, with 348,000 km2 of estimated surface area.
Coral reefs play a vital role in underwater ecosystems, supporting a quarter of all marine life on earth. They have evolved to recover and recuperate after severe weather conditions such as cyclones, but with additional environmental factors including coral bleaching from climate change and outbreaks of the notorious crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), as well as human factors such as land-based pollution and dredging, coral reefs are having a hard time trying to regenerate.
Academics from different disciplines across the university have dived in to Great Barrier Reef research, working on projects related to reef restoration, seagrass-saving studies, reducing land-based pollution in reef catchments, environmental law, the use of drones in monitoring reef health, finding solutions to sustainability problems, and so much more! You can read all about these projects and studies here.