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What is the rainforest of the sea?
If you’ve seen the movie “Finding Nemo,” then you’ve had a tiny glimpse of one of the most fascinating ecosystems on our planet. As Marlin, a clown fish, sets out in search of his son Nemo, he encounters all sorts of other creatures that live in and around his home, the Great Barrier Reef.
Situated in the Coral Sea, just off the coast of Queensland, Australia, and stretching for more than 1,400 miles, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. It is a complex, biologically diverse ecosystem that serves many important roles such as providing food and shelter to fish and thousands of invertebrates, protecting the shoreline from erosion and adding to many local economies by being a popular tourist destination.
Because they represent such amazing biodiversity, coral reefs are often called the “rainforests of the sea.” The Great Barrier Reef is the ultimate rainforest of the sea. It is home to 4,000 types of mollusks (clams and other shelled creatures), 1,500 species of fish, 1,500 different sponges, 800 species of echinoderms (star fish, sea urchins and so on), 500 varieties of seaweed, 360 species of hard coral, 200 bird species, more than 115 species of butterflies and more than 30 species of marine mammals.