32. Earth’s largest living structure is the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, containing over 1600 different types of fish, 600 types of corals, and 100 types of jellyfish. Many of these species cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, this massive body is about half the size of Texas or Japan’s total size! However, the Great Barrier Reef’s long-term prognosis is not suitable due to climate change and other human-caused factors leading to ecological degradation and breakdown. If current trends continue, this jewel of the seas will be completely dead within a decade.
This current reef formation is about six thousand to eight thousand years old; estimates are that it began forming during the Last Glacial Maximum. That makes it all the more disheartening that climate change and human impact is rapidly killing it off! The reef is large enough to be visible from space and comprises nearly 3,000 smaller, individual, interlinked reefs. These reefs are all divided by narrow passages just below the surface of the Coral Sea. Most of the Great Barrier Reef is a marine protected area and is managed by the Marine Park Authority of Australia. It was even chosen as a World Heritage Site in 1981.