Australia has been experiencing floods on a catastrophic level as of late. Hundreds of thousands of kilometers of the great “Down Under” are currently under water, with environmentalists fearing that runoff from land will find its way into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. The runoff, which comes from farmlands and other developed areas, contains pesticides, fertilizer, and an endless supply of sediment…all of which mean bad news for the reef. The sediment can cover corals and cause the water to become more turbid, blocking out sunlight to the photosynthetic organisms below. Fertilizers will feed algae blooms, which can quickly deplete the water of oxygen and other valuable nutrients, can decrease the amount of light reaching the corals, and can even release fish-killing toxins.
The Great Barrier Reef, and every other reef for that matter, will receive runoff from rain water throughout the year. The reefs can cope, usually, as the runoff is limited in size and frequency. However, the situation in Australia is far different. Queensland, home to large sugar farms and coal production facilities, borders the ocean near the Great Barrier Reef and is experiencing the brunt of this flood. This area is releasing all sorts of chemicals into the ocean that could lead to massive algae blooms and multiple other consequences.
Image from the AP via Newshopper.