Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef exhibit is the grand finale of your Aquarium visit. The second largest tank at 700,000 litres, and by far the most colourful, the reef is home to over 70 species of fish (more than in any of our other exhibits) and our famous loggerhead turtle, Snorkel. Snorkel washed up at Sennen Cove in Cornwall and we have special permission to look after her because she suffers from epilepsy and would sadly die in the wild. A fabulous character, Snorkel has some larger fish keeping her company too, including Samson the grouper, two portjackson sharks and two zebra sharks.
Coral reefs like the Great Barrier Reef are incredibly important to the marine ecosystem as they are considered hotspots of biodiversity. The majority of the warmer waters of our oceans contain little life, due to the low abundance of plankton. Coral reefs are diverse habitats that provide homes and support food chains for many species. About one-third of all marine species live on coral reefs – the Great Barrier Reef alone houses over 1,000 species of fish.
Coral reefs are under threat from a combination of pressures – increasing sea temperatures, acidification of the world’s oceans, overfishing and pressure from tourism. Although large swathes of coral reef have been lost in the last 20 years, other areas are proving surprisingly resilient and there are numerous scientific and conservation projects that focus on finding ways to help the reef survive and thrive. The National Marine Aquarium is working with partners globally to contribute to reef conservation through raising awareness and finding ways that culturing coral in captivity can assist in understanding these fascinating and valuable animals.