The Great Barrier Reef: The Largest Living Organism on Earth

Great Barrier ReefPhoto: bchoekenga

Whales, octopuses, elephants, or even the largest single plants on the planet are mere dwarfs next to this giant organism. The largest living organism on Earth is a coral reef known to us as The Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef is made up of over 2,900 individual reefs and is over 1,600 miles long. It can even be seen from outer space!

Coral reefs are NOT plants. Coral is actually the exoskeleton of tiny animals called Polyps, which secrete it in order to protect and house themselves. The animals are attached to the hard carbonate, making the entire system a live one.

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Corals are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the entire planet and can be home to invertebrates, crustaceans, fish, and sea snakes to name a few.

Corals eat by waving tentacles into the water in order to catch fish and other animals. They can breed both sexually and asexually and have taken many generations in order to create the reefs we see today.

Coral reefs are not only beautiful but extremely important to life as we know it as well. For example, coral reefs protect many islands around the world from eroding away. Also, their diversity may provide scientists with countless medicines in the future. Because they form so slowly, once coral reefs are gone, they cannot be replaced.

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