13 images Created 8 Jul 2021
Australia's Great Reef in the South
It may be the cooler, little-known cousin of the Great Barrier Reef, but Australia’s Great Southern Reef (GSR) is just as important and just as much in need of our attention. Surfers paddle over it, anglers fish off it, almost 70 per cent of Australians live within 50km of it and it contributes $10 billion a year to the Australian economy. Yet few of us have heard of it – indeed, until recently, it didn’t even have a name. The GSR runs for along Australia’s southern coastline, from northern New South Wales to half way up Western Australia. Its northern cousin, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), is made up of more than 2900 individual coral-dominated reefs, while the GSR is comprised of thousands of kelp-dominated rocky reefs. These range from intertidal rock pools to shallow reefs and deep-water environments dominated by sponge gardens. Just as warm water can cause coral bleaching on the GBR, increasing water temperatures are having a significant impact on the GSR. Scientists have identified that Australia’s temperate seas are warming two-to-four times more rapidly than the global average, largely due to the influence of the East Australian Current off the east coast and the Leeuwin Current off the west coast, both of which transport warm water southward.