A pair of Common reef cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) hovers above a patch of hard coral located on the Far Northern part of the Great Barrier Reef. With the ocean warming, rising, and becoming more acidic, coupled with land runoff, marine pollution and coastal development -- life in Australia's Great Barrier Reef is threatened from all sides and may be placed on the "in danger" designation for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Can Australia meet the challenge to do a better job of protection by 2014? Here's some photos of what's at risk.
Clownfish protect their eggs hidden in a sea anemone on the Great Barrier Reef.
The most-loved Heart Reef among the Whitsunday Islands in the Great Barrier Reef is part of the protected off-limits areas to SCUBA divers and snorklers.
A flying gurnard (Dactyloptena orientalis), spreads out large pectorals to scare away enemies on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
The poisonous blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) stalks prey among the coral.
Jeffrey L. Rotman/Corbis
The size isn't intimidating, but the deadly poison is; divers wear gloves to hold the blue-ringed octopus.
A black-blotched moray eel at home in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.
The polyps on this stalk of Acropora echinata, a type of Staghorn coral, show vividly colored tips.
Many reefs around the world are threatened by bleaching, as sea temperatures become too warm and stress the corals. The high temperatures kill the colorful polyps, and leave a reef cemetery of coral skeletons.
Staghorn Coral release eggs and sperm in a mass spawning event on the Great Barrier Reef.
The head of a whale shark (Rhincodon typus), near Ningaloo Reef in West Australia - Indian Ocean. Whale sharks feed on the eggs and sperm released from coral during massive spawning events a few days after the full moon between October and December.
What goes in must come out. A sea cucumber (Thelnota ananas) leaves a trail of waste as it processes its food.
The head of an Ocellated Epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum), in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
Sea level rise poses a real threat to many parts of Australia. Already increased coastal erosion as a result of sea level rise is evident, as here where trees have been undercut and toppled by erosion on Green Island off Cairns in Queensland, Australia.