[Coral-List] Definition of the Great Barrier Reef (reply to Eugene Shinn)

Frisch, Ashley ashley.frisch at jcu.edu.au
Mon Oct 15 01:26:09 EDT 2012

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a complex entity with many definitions. It is most often used to describe the 2000+ calcareous reefs that form a loose barrier along the Queensland coast, extending from 10-24 degrees south. All of these 2000+ reefs are contained in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP), but the GBRMP also includes near-shore, continental islands and vast coastal estuaries (not really a part of the GBR, sensu stricto) and exclude an additional 750-odd calcareous reefs near Torres Strait (arguably part of the GBR). Typically, the eastern, outer-most reefs of the GBR are called 'outer-shelf' reefs, and the terms 'mid-shelf' and 'inshore' are used to describe reefs that are progressively closer to shore. It is difficult to unambiguously describe the GBR because of its complexity. A useful guide is the chapter by Hopley in Hutchings et al. (2008), The Great Barrier Reef: Biology, Environment and Management.

Acanthaster outbreaks are not confined to mid-shelf reefs. There's plenty of COTS fodder on inshore and outer-shelf reefs. The 214 reefs studied by De'Ath et al. (2012) were mostly mid-shelf and outer-shelf reefs. Perhaps the best solution to the 'definition' problem is inclusion of a map (as per De'Ath et al. 2012).

I hope this information is useful.

Dr Ashley Frisch
Post-doctoral Research Fellow
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University
Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia

Tel:  (07) 47815281
Fax: (07) 4781 6722
Office:  Room 110, Building DB19
E-mail:  ashley.frisch at jcu.edu.au<mailto:ashley.frisch at jcu.edu.au>
Web:  www.coralcoe.org.au<http://www.coralcoe.org.au/>

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