The Great Barrier Reef is truly amazing, even on a cloudy day. According to the guides, viewing was not at its best due to a number of natural occurrences – overcast skies, high tides, and coral spawning. Once a year, the coral release sperm and eggs over several days. They float to the surface, fertilize, then develop into larvae which eventually settles on the reef forming new coral colonies and replenishing coral ecosystems. Nature is amazing!
On the Great Barrier Reef you can visit a Cay, which is a small sandy island formed over time from sand, bits of coral, shells and other reef debris. Seabirds dropping help hold it all together and over time an island is formed. One of these Cays is Michaelmas, which is a tiny island with over 20,000 birds, depending on the season. It is a protected area and quite fascinating.
The Great Barrier Reef is a natural treasure that is being impacted by a number of factors, including climate change and tourists. There have been studies about the effects of sunscreen containing oxybenzone. This chemical blocks the sun’s ultraviolet rays, so it protects humans, but can damage coral reefs. The Australian government has a sustainability plan in place for the Reef so it can be enjoyed for many years to come. (Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan)