Thursday, 4 October 2012

FMP Research//Great Barrier Reef Ep. II.

Written research and visual imagery from this week's 'Great Barrier Reef', as shown on BBC Two, presented by Monty Halls. This week, looking at Episode Two, 'Reef to Rainforest', notes shown below.



- One of the seven recognised wonders of the world.
- The coral is as little as 7% of the barrier reef.
- More than 100 different habitats in and around the reef.
- Deep water lagoon lies between the Eastern coast of Australia and the reef.
- One of the most complex eco systems on the Earth.
- Lagoon is 1.5 x the size of the British Isles.
- 2/3 of the sea floor is covered by sand. Appears barron, but there is life (e.g shrimps and garden eels).
- Rays detect life in the sand by swimming over a beating heart- blows sand beneath it to reveal it's prey.
- Great Hammerhead Sharks can often detect the sting rays as it also has electro detectors.
- One hammerhead was found with 96 sting ray venomous balms, and it was unharmed- a lethal hunter.
- The lagoon is a relatively hostile environment, yet there remains plenty of fish species. Diving is NOT easy here, but it's worth the effort.
- A "ghostly oasis", a "strange, almost alien" world.
- A soft coral (not reef building) from the oasis- they don't have a chalky skeleton, thrive in the dark, and juvenile fish hide in these "soft nurseries".
- As long as they hide between the coral and seaweed, they are relatively safe.
- Camouflage, stonefish are fantastic hunters- and force all juvenile fish to hide.
- Tube- dwelling sea anemone provide a good camouflage spot.
- Fish will go to incredible lengths for premium hiding places.
- Pearlfish hide inside sea cucumbers as an unusual camouflage host, though are seen as repulsive to most animals.
- The reef was forme in the Ice Age when waters were 120m lower than they are today. The growth of the coral kept pace with the rising sea levels.
- Continental Islands (600 across the lagoon) are essentially main land cut off by sea levels. Animals had to adapt, or perish- Goanna Lizards (of 'Lizard Island') have thrived here, and evolved perfectly.
- There are people living on Lizard Island, and the Goannas have adapted their behaviour and are unafraid of man- "befriending" them for potential food sources.
- The "salty" saltwater crocodile, the largest reptile in the world, are common in the lagoon(s) and islands (up to 6m long as adults).
- White bellied seagulls are the second largest eagles in Australia, and can be seen over various islands and areas in the lagoon. They are specialised to catch fish, but are adaptable, though fish make up half of it's diet.
- The white bellied seagulls will often catch little red fruitbats, though the bats need to be air born, gathering in groups of up to half a million, they aren't hard to find.
- The islands are a magnet for animals and wildlife.
- Below the lagoon lies a shipwreck "island"- the SS Youngala, 1911 cyclone sinking at a depth of 30m, 122 people lost their lives.
- The wreck provides shelter for almost 120 species- food in swept in by the incredibly strong currents.
- Many fish and sea (loggerhead) turtles live here all of their lives.
- The soft corals help attract the species to the Youngala- which covers the once- smooth hull of the ship.
- Soft corals are a refuge for many fish.
- Queensland Groupers are the largest bony fish in the reef- named as the 'VW' because it's the same size as a car (can eat sharks and rays whole).
- The landward edge of the lagoon is relatively shallow- sunlight reaches the bottom where plants and seagrass can grow along the shore of the mainland, where dugongs live, relatives of elephants. They were once abundant, but are often caught in nets, and aboriginals hunted them for their meat. A single baby is born every 3-7 years, and do not breed until they are around 17 years of age. The population has halved in the past decade, and now just 11,000 left in the reef.
- Young green turtles also eat the sea grass, eating the most tender shoots.
- Sea grass meadows are also nurseries for small fish.
- Hot, tropical weather means at least 60cm of water can fall a day, making the rainforest one of the wettest places on Earth.
- When the conditions are JUST right, coral grow right by the coast. Animals from the reef and the rainforest can be found side-by-side.
- 80% of the coastline (mostly sugar cane) has been cleared for agriculture, and has had a huge effect and impact on the reef system.
- All of the habitats are inter-dependant.
- The Great Barrier Reef mainland park protects islands in this area, attracting 1.5 million visitors per year, injecting $7 billion a year into the local economy.

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