Over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for 2,600 kilometers (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometers compose the Great Barrier Reef. Located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world and the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms also known as coral polyps. This amazing structure can be seen from outer space and supports a large variety of life. Selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981, the reef was also labeled as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world by CNN and icon of Queensland by Queensland National Trust.
In order to limit the impact of human use and abuse (such as fishing and tourism), a large part of the site is under protection of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Fishing and tourism are generating AU$ 1 billion per year. The reef is not only a very popular destination for tourists but also has a great cultural and spiritual heritage for the locals.
Due to coral bleaching, the Great Barrier Reef is slowly fading. Global warming and increasing carbon dioxide levels are seriously damaging the reef and it is said that by 2030 they will render the reef functionally extinct.
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