Deeper into Jeopardy! XLVI: World Facts – $1200

A reminder: no posts next week. See you June 29!

Jeopardy! category: WORLD FACTS (8-6-2015)

$1200 Daily Double! clue: It makes sense that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is in this sea

Correct response

The gist: Yup. Makes sense.The Coral Sea is part of the Pacific Ocean bounded by Australia to the west, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to the north, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the East, and the Tasman Sea to the south. It formed relatively recently, like most of Australia, around 50 million years ago, or possibly a few million more, and seismic activity continues to shake and shape the continental plates underlying it. Its most notable feature, of course, is the Great Barrier Reef, as the clue implies, the largest coral reef system in the world. Corals have been forming in the Coral Sea since it formed, but until about 25 million years ago the waters were too cold to support large coral growths. As Queensland (including the rock that the Great Barrier Reef sits on) moved north into more tropical waters, however, coral growth accelerated, until it grew into the 2300-kilometre-long – and shrinking – gargantuan we know today.

The GBR, as it’s sometimes known, is among the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world, housing dozens of aquatic mammal species, many more reptiles, hundreds of birds, more than 1500 fish, and countless crustaceans, worms, and other undersea critters, not to mention the plants – and the hundreds of coral species themselves. Sadly, although it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, it is severely threatened by environmental damage, with climate change being named the most serious threat as of 2014. Other threats include pollution like agricultural and mining runoff, eutrophication, overfishing and shipping, and the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish. Still, the beauty of the area continues to bring in about three billion dollars in tourism money to its surrounding region.

Map of the Coral Sea

The clue: Naturally, this is written to get you to think of some of the first characteristics of the Great Barrier Reef that come to mind. Sadly, I don’t think that’s quite enough if you’ve never heard of the Coral Sea anyway, as I suspect contestant Chris had not. His response, “Barrier Sea,” takes the clue a bit too literally, and that’s a response that belongs more in a Stupid Answers category anyway.

In Jeopardy!: “Coral Sea” brings up a lot of unrelated clues in the J!Archive, but there are still some patterns that can be seen. Australia is a common theme, naturally, appearing in six clues along with the sea. Similarly, the World War II Battle of the Coral Sea, fought between the U.S. and Australia against Japan in 1942, is in six as well. Surprisingly, the GBR is in just three clues including this one, and one is a virtual clone: “No big surprise, the Great Barrier Reef lies in this sea.” New Guinea is in four clues, and as many mention Port Moresby, its capital which lies on the Sea.

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