May 23, 2003
Coral Reef and Mysterious Sea - Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef, located along the northeast coast of Australia, is 2000 km long and has an area of 0.35 million km2 which is comparable in size to the Japanese archipelago. From the upper left to lower right of the image, we can see the southern half of the Great Barrier Reef shining like a green emerald. In this area, white sand spread under the shallow sea of the coral reef reflects sunlight, producing brilliant blues and greens. Marion Reef in the upper right of the image is a coral reef island located 200 km east from the Whitsunday Island, the center of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is not only a pleasure to our eyes but also the habitat of 1500 kinds of fish, 250 kinds of birds, and humpback whales and green turtles that are threatened with extinction. Many kinds of creatures can live in this area in spite of less plankton because the coral reef co-habitates with zooxanthella that photosynthesize its waste products, and because the coral reef itself and its mucus can be food for the creatures. Also, it absorbs more CO2 than the tropical rainforest by photosynthesis of zooxanthella ( tropical rainforest 2-3 kg/m2, coral reef 4.3 kg/m2 per year ). In reality, however, in this beautiful paradise, stress of rise in seawater temperature removes zooxanthella from the coral reef, and it causes whitening and massdeath of the coral reef. To protect this sea and coral reef, we need to cultivate Earth-friendly habits such as enhancing energy conservation and reducing CO2 emissions.
This image was acquired by GLI
on March 20, 2003 using its 250 m resolution spectral channels.
Earth Observation Research and application Center, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.