Subject: The Great Barrier Reef

Jennifer D. Philips (
Wed, 29 Apr 1998 19:03:04 -1000

>Dear Jen,
>    Hello my name is Rachel Baker. I'm in the sixth grade Buena Vista 
>Middle School. In my Science class we are learning about the ocean. We 
>are doing a huge resaerch paper on a subject of the ocean. The subject 
>that I chose was The Great Barrier Reef: What is it and the sea life 
>around it. Could you please tell me what are all or almost all or even 
>a little , what animala/organism/plants live around the Great Barrier?
>It will be a very big help to my project. Thank you and I hope that 
>your studies on ocean life turns out very well. 
>                          Rachel Baker

Rachel - 

That is a huge question!  Other than writing 10 pages worth of information
for you read (and end up doing your report for you...)  I can offer instead
some of the most important aspects of the Great Barrier Reef, points that
you should research further and include in your report.  There are ample
resources, I am sure, that can help you learn about each of these important
aspects.  Start with a general search on the web (if you have easy web
access), and try your school library too.  

1) First, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is one of the most diverse
ecosystems in the world, perhaps the most diverse (even surpassing rain
forests).  What does this mean?  Diversity refers to the amount of
different types of life found in an area.  

2)  How old is the GBR?  Cores have been taken from the reef over 5
millions years old, but its probably even older than that?  Can you find a
reference on its age anywhere?

3)  What creates a reef?  I can tell you that the organisms that supply the
backbone of a reef is coral, a special type of coral that secretes calcium
carbonate for its own shell while it is alive.  Then, when it dies, the
skeleton is left behind, and other animals move in to live on that hard
shell.  What you should find out is what are these coral called?  What
animals move in to live on the coral  (I know this is one of the questions
you asked me, but I really do not know!  You will get a much more accurate
answer if you do some research)?  What is calcium carbonate?

4)  The GBR is called a "barrier reef" because it runs parallel to the
shoreline, set off from the shoreline by some distance.  What other kinds
of reef are there?  

I hope this information helps!  Good luck on your report.  Write back if
you have any more questions.

Aloha - 



Jennifer D. Philips

Marine Mammal Research Program
HIMB, University of Hawaii at Manoa
PO Box 1106			
Kailua, HI  96734
voice:  (808) 247-5063
fax: (808) 247-5831