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Australia Turns To Sunshades, Water Spray To Save Great Barrier Reef

Earth News: Australia

Nov 04, 2006

Australia is considering using vast sunshades to stop global climate change further damaging the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral system, a government minister said.
Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said the government was looking at funding the use of shade cloths to protect vulnerable parts of the giant reef off the coast of Queensland state, after a promising two-year trial. Scientists warned earlier this year that high ocean temperatures linked to global warming had caused severe coral bleaching in parts of the reef, said to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Bleaching occurs when the plant-like organisms that make up coral die and leave behind the white limestone skeleton of the reef. "We're very concerned because this is a 5.8-billion-dollar (4.5-billion-US) tourist industry on the reef employing 33,000 people," Bailey told the Australian Broadcast Corporation. "So, obviously, we're tackling this issue from both ends -- the cause of the problem and also trying to find very practical ways where we can mitigate the problem." The shade cloth, which is being developing by marine researchers in Queensland, would be held in place by floating pontoons. Photo above: The Wistari and Herron Reef in the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's northeastern coast

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