GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
2.4 Current condition and trends of populations of species and groups of species
The Region is home to thousands of species (Table 2.1). It provides particularly important habitat for species of conservation concern such as dugongs, whales, dolphins, seabirds, marine turtles, sharks and rays. Inscription of the Great Barrier Reef on the World Heritage List recognises the global significance of its species diversity, especially its endemic species.23 It is recognised that there are many new species yet to be discovered and named.13 Some species in the Great Barrier Reef are classified as species of conservation concern. This means that they are protected by law or require special management. These include:
The Great Barrier Reef is home to many species of conservation concern.
• Threatened species Twenty-five marine species that occur in the Region are listed as ‘vulnerable’, ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and are therefore matters of national Table 2.1 Species diversity of plants and animals environmental significance. There are seven marine reptiles, Thousands of species make up the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. Many five marine mammals, seven sharks and rays and six seabird have not been identified and described. For some, the number of species recorded is provided; for others the most up-to-date estimate is given.9,123,124 species (Table 2.1). The Great Barrier Reef is vital to the The sub-Antarctic fur seal, a threatened species, is rarely seen within the recovery and survival of many of these. Region. The table includes the number of listed migratory species (M) • Migratory species The Region supports 76 of the migratory species currently listed under the EPBC Act, making them matters of national environmental significance. This comprises six marine turtle species; 11 mammal species including dugongs and two inshore dolphins; five species of shark; 53 species of shorebirds and seabirds; and the estuarine crocodile (Table 2.1). The fact that these species move during their life histories — sometimes very large distances — means they may spend much of their time outside the Region and hence may be exposed to impacts well beyond the boundaries of the Region or Australia. • Iconic species These are well-known plants or animals, such as sea snakes, seahorses, Maori wrasse, whales and dolphins, which often need specific management in the Region.
and listed threatened species (T) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Plants and animals of the Great Barrier Reef Number of species recorded
Mangroves Seagrasses Marine macroalgae Sponges Soft corals and sea pens Hard corals Echinoderms Crustaceans Molluscs Worms Bony fishes Sharks and rays Sea snakes Marine turtles Crocodiles Seabirds Shorebirds Whales and dolphins Dugongs
39 15 630 at least 2500 at least 150 411 630 about 1300 as many as 3000 at least 500 1625 136 (M:5, T:7) 14 breeding species 6 (M:6, T:6) 1 (M:1, T:1) 20 nesting species (M:23, T:6) 41 (M:30) more than 30 (M:10, T:4) 1 (M:1)
• ‘At risk’ species or habitats These are not necessarily protected by legislation, but are facing serious pressure and require special management. Examples include some coral reefs, giant clams, triton shells, seagrass meadows and some sharks and rays.
The Region’s mangrove forests are very diverse with at least 39 mangrove species and hybrids recorded.34,36,37,38 The diversity and abundance of mangrove species along the Great Barrier Reef coast are being maintained.34