Seven Underwater (Natural) Wonders of the World
There are many amazing forms of life and marvelous phenomena going on in underwater world of earth. In order to record and present them and to create awareness of their safety, CEDAM group has selected seven wonders of underwater world. All of them have unique forms of life and natural beauty in them. Short information about these seven wonders is presented below.
1. Belize Barrier Reef
Belize Barrier Reef (BBR) system is spread about 300 meters to about 40 km offshore and in length of about 320 km along the coastal line of Belize, a country of central America. It is the second largest reef system after the Great bareer reef system of Australia. It also considered one of the most diverse reef system so far following includes among the discovered species:
- 70 hard coral species
- 36 soft coral species
- 500 species of fish’
- Hundreds of invertebrate species
However it is approximated by a study report by Westminster College, in which auther Sue Wells mentioned that to date (2011) only 10% of species are discovered so far in the system and more than 90% reefs are still required to be reserched.
BBR (Belize Barrier Reef) has also a lot of attraction for tourist in addition to its research value for scientests and researchers. Atolls, beaches, lagoons and mangrove forests are intensly found in BBR . The largest island of the barrier is Ambergris Caye , which has three beautiful coral atolls in its surrounding namely Glover's Reef, Turneffe Islands and Lighthouse Reef . This area is also home of some of now endangered species of the world, which includes manatees, sea turtles and American crocodiles. In 1996, the Belize Barrier Reef has beenincluded in list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites .
Belize Barrier Reef
The barrier reef is clearly visible even in satellite images
Belize Barrier ReefClick thumbnail to view full-size
2. Palau Coral Reef
If you look at atlas. In North Pacific Ocean, you can find Palau (Formally referred to as the Republic of Palau) as a small streched strip of islands surrounded by ocean. The nearest piece of land from it is Philippines, approximately 500 miles away. Each of the islands are surroended by a beautiful and largly unexplored reef system. The sytem contains a myriad of incredible marine life species.
Palau, Which also called Belau, is an attractive destination for divers. If you want to see face to face with amazing reef sharks, jellyfish, barracuda, and want to talk to nature one to one, you should not miss any oportunity to go there. The coral, found here is amongst the most beautiful and colorful in the underwater flora and fauna.
Palau Coral Reef
Palau Coral Reef and Rock Islands are a good source of attraction for researchers and tourists equally.
Palau Coral ReefClick thumbnail to view full-size
3. Great Barrier Reef
The gigantic coral reef system, lies on north east of Australia off the coast of Queensland, is world’s largest underwater ecosystem of coral reefs. It is also included one of the natural wonders of the world. This also visible from outer space and is world largest single structure made by living organisms. It is stretched over an area of about 344,000 Square kilometers over a length of 2600 kilometers. The site is rich in extraordinary underwater beauty and one of the attractive places for divers and underwater lovers. There are over 900 islands at the site and all are encircled by the reef system. The astonishing types of life and species can found on these islands in their forests and in under water system beneath them. Great Barrier Reef system has about
- 2800 different types of reefs,
- More than 1500 types of fishes,
- About 4000 mollusk,
- About 30 species of whales and dolphins,
- 17 species of sea snake
- 15 types 0f sea grass and much more.
With and average depth of approximately 60 meters the site is great attraction for tourists and especially for scuba divers. The best time to visit the site is in Australian Winter (i.e. summer in rest of world)
Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier ReefClick thumbnail to view full-size
4. Deep Sea Vents
Deep sea vents, or sometimes referred as Hydro Thermal vents, are holes in sea bed where ocean water is in direct contact with magma. There are often formed where new ocean crust is being formed as this gives sea water an opportunity to circulate through extremely hot volcanic rocks. Water around such vents often has temperature of about 700 degree Celsius and but due to extremely high pressure of water column, around 300 bars, it is still in liquid form or in a transition state between liquid and gas. The water is also very acidic and pH level here is around 2. Due very deepness and turbidity there is no chance for sun light to reach at these depths. Most of the times, water coming out from these outlets is in black color. Therefore these are also called ‘black smokers’. And here comes what is very astonishing about these vents, life exists, even in such extreme conditions around chimneys dependent on energy of and food from these vents.
According to biology books prior to discovery of these vents, it is impossible for any life cycle to survive at even one of such extreme conditions. This discovery demonstrated that life can exist and sustain in almost any condition, as it has changes our perception of life and its essentials. The marvelous eco system developed here is not dependent on sun, rather on earth’s own energy. A great variety of organisms exists in this eco-system including pogonophorans, gastropods, annelids and bivalve. The deepest hydrothermal vent, found so far, exist at the depth of 5km in Cayman Trench of Caribbean Sea.
Deep Sea Vents
5. Galápagos Islands
Galapagos Islands are archipelago consisting of five major, eight small islands and about 41 islets. Legally it is a province of Ecuador, but lies about 900 km away from its mainland in the Pacific Ocean. The combined area of this archipelago is about 8000 square kilometers. Galapagos is habitat of some of amazing forms of life. It has some unique species of animals mostly reptiles like sea lion, galapagos (big tortoise) and local penguins. The reason for it to host such unique and endemic species is perhaps its natural isolation due to which it remained out of reach from predators and also human interference was not there till for a long time.
Some of amazing species of birds found here include albatrosses, , frigate birds, flamingos and blue-footed boobies. The islands also host a wonderful great variety of endemic plants including bromelias, Scalesia, tree ferns, lava flows and orchids. The Archipelago has some rare species of cotton, tomato, pepper, guava and passion flowers. The underwater life in Galapagos is also very attractive. The islands has many endemic fish species and marine plants. It is therefore, Galapagos Islands are considered one of the Underwater Wonders of the planet.
Galápagos IslandsClick thumbnail to view full-size
6. Lake Baikal
The crescent shaped Lake Baikal is considered biggest unfrozen water body in the world. It is located in south of Russia in the Siberian region. It is estimated the lake contains 20% world’s unfrozen surface fresh water. The average depth of lake is about 1632m, and due to this reason, it is the deepest lake in the world. The surface are of the lake is 31, 722 square kilometers. Considers this area and its depth it is more like a sea instead of lake. Even in old literatures when the extents of the lake were unknown, it was written as Baikal Sea instead of Lake Baikal. It hosts 1700 species of plants and animals, and about 65 % of them are not found somewhere else.
Some interesting facts about Lake Baikal includes
- The lake contains 23,000 cubic km. of fresh water and its size is still expanding.
- It is estimated that Lake Baikal was formed some 25 millions ago, considering this also oldest fresh water body on the earth.
- It is home to many unique species of animals and plants including the freshwater seal.
- The water is so clear the one can see anything up to 40 m depth easily.
- The rough dimensions of f Lake Baikal are: Length 636 km, Width 79 km.
- There are 27 islands in Lake Baikal, most of them being uninhabited.
- The coastline of Lake Baikal is 2100 km.
- There are about 300 streams and rivers flow into Lake Baikal, but there is just one outlet, the river Angara.
- Some of Baikal's fish can survive more than one mile beneath the surface, despite the incredible water pressure at that depth. But these fishes are so adapted to this pressure that literally explode is brought to surface due to huge pressure difference.
Lake BaikalClick thumbnail to view full-size
7. The Northern Red Sea
Northern Red Sea, a water body between Asia and Africa is surrounded by Egypt, Eritrea, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia. It has an average depth of 490m. The sea also has a diverse ecosystem having more than 1200 fish species including 44 types of Sharks and 42 deep-water fishes. The Northern red sea is also habitate of about 200 different hard or soft corals and 1000 invertebrate species.
From tourism point of view, it is considered as one of best places for scuba divers. Sometimes it is also called as Under Water Garden of Eden. Most of the species found in Red Sea are harmless for human but still there are very few dangerous ones also. So information must be sought before any scuba diving mission.
The Northern Red Sea
The Northern Red SeaClick thumbnail to view full-size
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