Two US Jets drops bombs on Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
The two AV-8B Harrier jets launched from aircraft carrier USS Bonhomme Richard dropped four unarmed bomb in the World Heritage listed Marine Park off the coast of Queensland state when the training exercise went wrong. The four bombs were dropped in more than 50 meters of water away from coral to diminish possible damage to the reef.
Originally, the jets were to drop the ordnances on the Townshend Island bombing range but they cut off the mission as controllers stated that the area was not clear of hazards. The pilots did the emergency jettison as they were low on fuel and could not land with their bomb loaded.
About The Great Barrier Reef:
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reef sand 900 islands spanned over 2,600 kilometers over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometers. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
Importance of GBR:
- It has the world’s biggest single structure made by billions of tiny living organisms known as coral polyps. It is a rich ecosystem bearing a great diversity of life.
- A major part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism.
- The reef ecosystem faces threat from other environmental pressures which include runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown of thorns starfish.
- It is a very popular destination for tourists, especially in the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns regions. Tourism is an important economic activity for the region generating over $3 billion annually and is a significant part of local groups’ cultures and spirituality.
- It was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981.