Posted on June 11, 2016
|The Great Barrier Reef from space|
The Great Barrier Reef is a gorgeous place, by some definitions the largest living thing on Earth, visible, even, from space! Thousands and thousands of different sorts of species – from dolphins and dugongs to fish and sea snakes, from sea turtles and sea grasses to mollusks and crocodiles, from sponges and anemones to sea stars and seaweeds, and of course thousands of corals – live on the reef.
It does not seem like it would be difficult to discover such a huge thing – and it seems like the discovery would be a fun and beautiful thing.
The Great Barrier Reef is located off the coast of Australia, a place very far from and indeed not yet discovered by European explorers. And the discovery wasn't so much of a “Oh, look! How beautiful is that!” as it was a
“Oh, no! What did we run
On this date in 1770, English explorer and naval officer Captain James Cook “discovered” the Great Barrier Reef the hard way – by running his ship The Endeavor aground on it!
Once your ship is aground, it's not so easy to fix the problem.
After being stuck for an entire day, Cook and his crew finally freed their ship by throwing overboard 50 TONS of stuff. Then they still had to repair the damage. And only then could they get back to following their super secret orders: to search for a major southern continent and claim it for England.
A couple of months later, Cook would discover and explore Australia and New Zealand. Even though the former is considered a southern continent, it wasn't the huge landmass that so many people thought MUST exist to balance out the Earth. (Have you ever noticed that there is way more land in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern?)
Now, what about that reef?
Here are some of the kinds of species that live on or near the reef:
30 species of whales and dolphins
17 species of sea snakes
6 species of sea turtles
7 species of frogs
125 species of sharks/stingrays/skates
49 species of pipefish
9 species of seahorses
more than 1,500 other species of fish
215 species of birds
5 species of marine spiders
more than 20 species of marine insects
more than 5,000 species of mollusks, including octopi and squids
more than 630 species of sea stars and sea urchins
about 1,300 species of shrimp, crabs, and krill
more than 100 species of jellyfish
about 720 species of sea squirts – or ascidians
more than 300 species of “moss animals” - or bryozoans
more than 400 species of corals
about 500 species of worms
about 1,500 species of sponges
15 species of seagrasses
about 500 species of seaweeds
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