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    Cernan Earth and Space Center

    The Great Barrier Reef

    Grade Level: All ages, but best for 3rd grade and up
    Length: 45 minutes

    The Great Barrier Reef is a spectacular C-360 wraparound film that is projected onto the entire dome screen of the Cernan Center theater. It describes one of the great natural wonders of the world -- the Great Barrier Reef -- that stretches for more than 1,200 miles along the coast of northeast Australia. Larger than Great Britain, the Great Barrier Reef is undoubtedly the greatest structure on Earth built entirely by living things.

    The film first discusses water itself and the various ways it is so important for life of all kinds. Water comprises life, transports it, nurtures it, incubates it and often molds its very shapes. For organisms living in water, this medium also is vital for the transmission and absorption of the life-giving energy of sunlight.

    The Great Barrier Reef then tells the story of the reef -- how it was formed, the living things that inhabit it, how man studies it, the complex relationships that exists between the living parts of the reef and how fragile the reef is despite its enormous size. The living things presented include the following: corals (they're animals, not plants), starfish, the hermit crab, many species of fish, sponges, the manta ray, sharks, moray eel, turtles, and some of the birds and wildlife that inhabit adjacent islands. The film emphasizes the relationships among these various living things and the endless drama of life that is played out day and night in countless ways along the reef. A brief question-and-answer period follows the presentation.