The Great Barrier Reef of Australia is a beautiful oasis of animal wildlife. There are anemones, small fish, and even whales. Many of the animals that call the Great Barrier Reef home are endangered species. Endangered species are animals whose population threatens extinction. If a species is extinct then there are none left living. They become the dodo.
Here are few of the endangered species that can be found in the Great Barrier Reef.
The Sea Turtle
There are actually six species of the sea turtle that reside in the Great Barrier Reef. All six of them are endangered. Sea turtles roam the oceans, sometimes traveling from one corner of the earth to the other. They travel these far distances to find nesting sites. Nesting sites are beaches where the sea turtles will lay 50 or more eggs in the sand. The nests are buried in the sand and the turtle leaves them there, alone. When the babies hatch, they have to scramble to the sea. Then they have to survive.
So many species of the sea turtle are endangered because of egg stealers. Turtle eggs are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. Hunters search the nesting sites for nests, and then they dig up the eggs and steal them. They fetch a pretty penny so that someone can enjoy that baby turtle egg on their plate during dinner. It is now illegal to harvest turtle eggs, and there are a number of organizations that try to protect the eggs by taking them from the nests and incubating them. When the turtles hatch, they are set free into the ocean.
The Blue Whale
The blue whale is considered the largest animal of all time. Larger than the largest dinosaur. The blue whale can get up to 88 feet in length and weigh up to 150 tons! They eat only krill, which is a very tiny creature. It is hard to imagine how much krill a blue whale has to eat to actually feel full. Some of them never stop eating. The blue whale can be found in many oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef.
The blue whale is endangered for one major reason: hunting. Whalers brutally kill these precious animals to make money. Everyone has heard stories about whaling ships. Many people have read, or watched, Moby Dick. There has been a heated battled between animal protection organizations and the whaling industry. Despite the argument, it is now illegal to hunt whales, and the few remaining blue whales left in the oceans are protected.
The dugong is more commonly known as the Sea Cow. Similar to the manatee, the dugong can weigh up to 2000lbs. They are called sea cows because they graze on plants all day long, just like a land cow. It is believed that the dugong was the first mermaid. It is said that sailors saw the dugong and thought it looked like half a human, and half a fish. Of course, no one knows for sure if this is true, but it is possible.
The dugong is endangered because of hunting. Every bit of the dugong is sold. It’s flesh and blubber is sold, it’s bones and teeth become ivory jewelry. Parts are also sold for medicinal purposes, and its hide is used to make leather. A beautiful animal torn apart to appease man’s vanity.
Glenn, C. R. 2006. “Earth’s Endangered Creatures” (Online). Accessed 1/4/2010 at http://earthsendangered.com.