Four Corners - Beautiful One Day
Across the world, coral reefs are turning into marine deserts. It's estimated that more than a quarter have been lost and that 40 per cent could be gone by 2010. It's almost unthinkable that Australia's Great Barrier Reef – the world’s biggest coral edifice, 2000 kilometres long, home to 400 coral and 1500 fish species – could be headed the same way.
Four Corners explores the pressures on the reef from sugar, beef, shipping and fishing – and how these traditional industries are chafing against the multi-billion dollar tourism industry.
Reporter Stephen McDonell tells how coral bleaching, driven by global warming, is wrecking reefs world-wide and how the Barrier Reef has, so far, emerged largely unscathed. It may not be so lucky in the years ahead. Then there's a potential impact that no one in authority will acknowledge – oil.
The Barrier Reef and its outskirts are thought to hold at least 5 billion barrels – Australia's biggest reserve. The Government rejects any suggestion that the reef could be exploited for its oil, but exploration teams are quietly gathering data on what lies beneath the seabed.
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