Scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) have stated that the coral cover in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the highest ever recorded, since records began 36 years ago, but the ecosystem remains vulnerable.
The Great Barrier Reef on the eastern coast of Australia is the world’s largest natural reef system of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 miles) long. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 and labelled one of the seven natural wonders of the world in 1997.
AIMS scientists have been monitoring the levels of coral coverage in the reef to determine its health. They publish their findings annually.
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Animal scientists, called zoologists, study animal habitats and populations as well as behaviour. They observe the implications of changing conditions. If climate conditions change, animals might face changes to their food, water, and other resources. For example, if plants and animals die during a drought, it will impact the lives of other animals that feed on them.
When the habitat changes, some animals migrate, some move, some adapt, some die, some thrive, and some change their behaviour. For example, animals may look for different food and prey that they would not usually eat if their usual prey moves out of the region or if the vegetation changes.
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The Bubble Coral (Plerogyra sinuosa) is a marine (saltwater) zooxanthellate coral in the Caryophylliidae family of stony corals, although this is not definitive according to some zoologists – they refer to its classification as Incertae sedis or Problematica (which means ‘uncertain placement’ or ‘problematic’). It is in the Cnidaria phylum. It is also known as Grape Coral, Pearl Coral, and Bladder Coral.
The Bubble Coral ‘bubble’ is grape-sized and roundish. It is cream to yellowish to light beige. Bunched together, like grapes, they form a colony that looks like an inverted cone.
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The Panther Grouper (Cromileptes altivelis) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Serranidae family of groupers and sea bass. It is also known as the Polka Dot Grouper, High-Finned Grouper, Humpback Grouper, and Barramundi Cod.
The Panther Grouper has a laterally compressed, flat body. It has a greyish-yellowish-brown coloured background with small, darker spots all over its body. It is high at front of its back, which makes it look humpbacked.
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The Longspine Snipefish (Macroramphosus scolopax) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Macroramphosidae family of snipefish. It is related to the Pipefish. It is also known as the Bellowfish, Spine Trumpet Fish, and Trumpetfish.
The Longspine Snipefish is reddish-pink with a silver underbelly. It has a moderately elongated body and head. It has a long snout (nose) and a tiny mouth without teeth. The snout curves slightly upward. It has scales on its body that are similar to the denticles of sharks because they have sharp ridges and spines. It has large, round eyes.
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Scientific researchers have determined that Harbour Seals can learn to change their voice to make them sound bigger, and that the behaviour is not a result of their anatomy.
Bigger animals usually have deeper (lower pitched) voices than smaller animals, but the Harbour Seal (Phoca vitulina) seems to be different. The Harbour Seal seems to be able to learn to change its voice.
The Harbour Seal, a marine (saltwater) mammal in the Phocidae family of seals is a pinniped (fin-footed, semi-aquatic mammal such as a seal, sea lion, and walrus) found in the Northern Hemisphere. It is found in the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Baltic Sea, and the North Sea.
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The Milky Jellyfish (Chrysaora lactea) is a soft-bodied, invertebrate sea nettle in the Pelagiidae family of marine (saltwater) jellyfish. An invertebrate is an animal with no bones.
The Milky Jellyfish has a translucent (see-through) bell-shaped or umbrella-shaped dome body. It has short tentacles (limbs) with short arms. It has no bones, no brain, no heart, no blood, no excretory system, and no gills or lungs. It has nerve receptors in its body that enables it to detect smell, light, pressure, and touch. It is about 98% water.
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The Indian Yellowtail Angelfish (Apolemichthys xanthurus) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Pomacanthidae family. It is also known as the Cream Angelfish, Smoke Angelfish, and Yellowtail Black Angelfish.
The Indian Yellowtail Angelfish has a large, round, flat body with thick lips and large, dark eyes. The scales are like a lattice design. The edges of its body are dark. It has a bright yellow tail and the other fins are dark-coloured. It has a yellow spot on the upper pre-operculum, near its eye.
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The Pacific Double Saddle Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ulietensis) is a tropical marine (saltwater) fish in the Chaetodontidae family of butterflyfish. It is also known as the False Falcula Butterflyfish.
The Pacific Double Saddle Butterflyfish has a flat, compressed, oval-shaped body. It is white with vertical, thin, black lines down its body and two dark saddles on its back. The fins and tail are bright yellow with a black spot on the tail. It has a black eye band, like a mask over its eyes. Its protruding snout (nose) is usually white.
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Research scientists think that albatrosses divorce and seek new partners when conditions are harsher than usual, reported Science News in November 2021. The research was documented in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B.
The albatross is a large seabird in the Diomedeidae family. The albatross is a monogamous bird, which means that it stays with the same partner for life. However, when ocean waters are warmer than average, more of the albatross birds break up and look for a new partner, says a recent study.
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What is a reef?
A reef is a ridge of rock or coral or similar material lying beneath the surface of natural water – usually ocean water.
A coral reef is in tropical ocean water.
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The White-Spotted Jellyfish (Phyllorhiza punctata) is a marine (saltwater) planktonic scyphozoan in the Mastigiidae family of jellyfish. It is a cnidarian. It is also known as the Floating Bell, the Australian Spotted Jellyfish, or the Brown Jellyfish.
The White-Spotted Jellyfish has a deep-brown colour due to the algae living on the tissue. It has a bell-shaped dome with little spots. It does not have stinging tentacles. It does not have eyes. Instead, it has light-sensing organs called ocelli. It is composed of 95% of water, which enables it to float.
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The Sea Fan Coral (Pinnigorgia sp.) is a marine (saltwater) soft coral in the Gorgoniidae family of sea fans. It is not a plant.
The Sea Fan Coral has calcareous spicules (horny nodules) on branchlets. The branchlets are usually slender. It can be whiplike, bushy, or spread out like a fan. The polyps are retractable with eight tentacles. It can be purple, red, or yellowish.
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The Giant Bladder Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is a marine (saltwater) heterokont in the Laminariales family of algae. It is not a plant. A heterokont includes algae, such as kelp, diatoms, and plankton.
The Giant Bladder Kelp grows in a diagonal direction due to the ocean current pushing against it. It has stalks that grows from a holdfast and branches out three or four times. Each blade has a single gas bladder, called a pneumatocyst.
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The Red Coral (Corallium rubrum formally Gorgonia nobilis) is a marine (saltwater) coral in the Corallidae family of branched limestone coral. It is also called Precious Coral. Coral is an animal, not a plant.
The Red Coral is red or pink-orange. It has branches, made from calcium carbonate, that are tree-like. It has retractable transparent white polyps with a round mouth disc surrounded by eight hollow tentacles. The tentacles have mild venom (poison). It is sessile (it does not move).
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The Barrier Reef Chromis (Chromis nitida) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Pomacentridae family of damselfish. It is also called the Yellowback Puller or the Shining Puller.
The Barrier Reef Chromis has a yellowish-brown back, a separating dark stripe, and silvery sides and underbelly. The dark stripe is diagonal, starting at the eye and ending at the tail. It has one dorsal (back) fin.
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The Staghorn Coral (Acropora muricata) is a marine (saltwater) branching, acroporid stony coral in the Acroporidae family. Coral is an animal, not a plant.
The Staghorn Coral can be blue, brown, or cream-coloured. It has cyclindrical branches that look like the antlers of a stag, a male deer.
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The Dog Whelk Sea Snail (Nucella lapillus) is a marine (saltwater) mollusc gastropod in the Muricidae family of rock sea snails. It is also called the Atlantic Dogwinkle.
The Dog Whelk is usually whitish-grey, but it can be a variety of colours, such as orange, yellow, brown, black, or banded. It has a hard, external shell, called an exo-skeleton, that is smooth with a pointed spire. It has a short, straight siphon canal. The shell shape varies, depending upon the tidal waves, but it is usually rounded and spirally corded. Most of its body is made of whorls. The aperture (hole or lip) is quite wide.
The Dog Whelk, like other Sea Snails, has a single auricle (chamber) in its heart, and a single pair of gill slits for breathing.
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The Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris) is a marine (saltwater) invertebrate (soft-bodied) mollusc in the Octopodidae family. Octopod means eight limbs. It is a cephalopod, related to the squid, cuttlefish, and nautilus.
The Common Octopus has a soft hollow body called a mantle. Its body can change shape and squeeze into small gaps. The mantle has gills (to breath), a brain, and a parrot-beaked mouth. Surrounding the mouth is eight limbs with suckers. It has two large eyes with excellent sight. It has three hearts.
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The Elegance Coral (Catalaphyllia jardinei) is a marine (saltwater) photosynthetic coral in the Euphyllidae family of stony coral. It is also known as the Wonder Coral or the Ridge Coral. It is an animal, not a plant.
The Elegance Coral has large polyps with a large, branching coralite skeleton. The polyps have long tendrils and a large, fleshy, disc-shaped (round) mouth. It can be fluorescent green, lime green, and brown.
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