Sample Geography Paper on The Great Barrier Reef

The Earth from Above

The photograph I will be reviewing is that of The Great Barrier Reef located in Queensland, Australia. The photo is of a location with latitude 17° 0’31.59″S, longitude 146°15’41.31″E, a heading of 176.000000° and a tilt of 42.000000°. The photo shows a massive expanse of Shallow Ocean surrounded by land on one side and Deep Ocean on the other. When one zooms in patches of coral reefs are seen while the rest of the area shows water beneath which is the sea bed made primarily of sand.

Uses of the Region

The catchment has been utilized for undertakings such as agriculture, mining, and industrial and metropolitan enlargement. 80% of the catchment is utilized in supporting some form of agronomy such as grazing, cropping, or horticulture. Eastern Australia has a rich natural environment and favorable climate for agriculture which makes it the biggest agricultural hub in Australia bringing in over $10 billion to the state annually. The use of fertilizers and other pollutants utilized in activities such as farming and reclamation have led to the increase in phytoplankton which is used by crown-of-thorns starfish as a food source. These crown-of-thorns starfish have been one of the two leading causes of coral cover loss in the region over the last 27 years (Schaffelke).

Besides agriculture, the area is also naturally endowed with large deposits of coal which has seen a doubling in the production of saleable coal in Queensland which is now home to some of the world’s largest mine and coal ports while on Curtis Island, a project for converting coal seam gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) has commenced. An endowment of large numbers of fish and a budding trade in mining has also seen traffic increase to the region and led people to reclaim land for  port development which has seen over eight square kilometers of land reclaimed in the Gladstone region. Finally, the attraction of the barrier reef and its beauty has seen large numbers of tourists flock the region, leading to Island development on 27 islands on the Great Barrier Reef particularly in the Whitsundays area (gbrmpa).

The Great Barrier Reef region is also home to over 1200 diverse sorts of fish, and the extensive oceanic area combined with the tradition of fishing in the region has seen various types of fishing in the region. Fishing is the chief extractive activity in the region with commercial, leisure, aboriginal, and charter fishing being practiced. While fishing is a significant commercial activity, it has gone largely unregulated with recreational fishing being for all resulting into overfishing which has also led to the upsurge in the number of crown-of-thorns starfish.

Two sides of the coin

International visitors regard the Great Barrier Reef as one of the places to visit while in Australia. For most of these people conservation is not an issue as they are there for recreation and this mindset has led to overfishing in the region. A lot of people are also not aware of the adverse impacts that human activity elsewhere has on the corals. However, local stakeholders have identified these challenges and started operations aimed at protecting the region. Many regulations have been passed and research programs aimed at protecting and accessing the human impacts on the reef commissioned. These programs combine numerous stakeholders both local and international in finding solutions to the imminent danger facing the Great Barrier Reef.

On clicking on the photo of the Great Barrier Reef, there was some information about 20% of the planet’s coral reefs having disappeared and 50% being endangered but the link provided did not open. The web page provided, however, enabled me find out more information regarding the issues facing the reef which have been important for this discussion. The works of Yann Arthus-Bertrand and the GoodPlanet Foundation are designed specifically for the purpose they enabled us achieve- creating awareness about various environmental issues facing the planet and how we can achieve sustainable development that not only benefits today’s generation but also later ones.


Works Cited

gbrmpa. Coastal development and protecting the Great Barrier Reef. n.d. Document. 19 June 2016.

Schaffelke, Britta. Crown-of-Thorns Starfish. n.d. Document. 19 June 2016.