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15 creatures that could disappear with Great Barrier Reef

Global warming is killing one of the world's natural wonders. Home to 9,000 species, the death of the reef could hurt more than its coral.

ianknighton-july-headshot-5
Ian Knighton
Hippocampus bargibanti
1 of 15 Reinhard Dirscherl/Getty Images

Pygmy seahorse

This minute master of camouflage survives by adapting its body to closely resemble sea fans, the soft coral it calls home. It's just one of the many creatures that could disappear along with the Great Barrier Reef because of global warming. 

Synanceia verrucosa
2 of 15 Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild/Getty Images

Reef stonefish

The stonefish hides itself among the coral using its crusty exterior as camouflage. It's earned the title of most venomous fish in the world, thanks to two sacs of poison on each of its 13 spines. The spines have pierced the soles of shoes, so look out!

Pterois antennata
3 of 15 Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild/Getty Images

Spotfin lionfish

Don't touch those pretty dorsal fins -- they're venomous. Stealthy during the daylight hours, the spotfin lionfish is active at night, feeding on small fish and crustaceans.

Epinephelus tukula
4 of 15 Auscape/UIG/Getty Images

Potato cod

These prehistoric-looking fish are large, curious beings, reaching lengths of nearly 9 feet. They're fond of reefs off northeast Queensland. 

Amphiprion ocellaris
5 of 15 Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Clownfish

Pixar's 2003 "Finding Nemo" brought these guys to the big screen, acquainting us with their symbiotic relationship with sea anemones. They start life as males and later develop into females, a process known as sequential hermaphroditism.

Chromodoris amoena
6 of 15 The Ocean Agency

Nudibranch

Vividly vibrant, shell-less and often referred to as "sea slugs", these gastropods are known to come in 2,300 individual species. 

Cheilinus undulatus
7 of 15 Auscape/UIG/Getty Images

Humphead wrasse

This predator of the coral-munching crown-of-thorns starfish has been classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Chelonia mydas
8 of 15 Craig Parry/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Green turtle

These endangered turtles can live to be up to 80 years old. Nearly all of that time is spent underwater. They routinely dive for four to five minutes, before surfacing for a gulp of air.

Manta birostris
9 of 15 The Ocean Agency

Giant oceanic manta ray

As the name suggests, these rays are, well, giant. The largest type of ray in the world, they can reach up to 7 meters in width.

Tridacna gigas
10 of 15 Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild/Getty Images

Giant clam

Listed as "vulnerable" by the IUCN, these bottom feeders can live more than a century and have been recorded weighing more than 200 kilograms.

Dugong dugong
11 of 15 Reinhard Dirscherl/Getty Images

Dugong

Affectionately dubbed the "sea cow", these creatures normally eat seagrass, which grows abundantly at the Great Barrier Reef. They can live as long as seven decades.

Sepia latimanus
12 of 15 The Ocean Agency

Cuttlefish

Despite the name, these alien-looking creatures are actually molluscs. They're also among the most intelligent of invertebrates, with a huge brain-to-body ratio.

Crown of Thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, Egypt
13 of 15 Education Images/UIG/Getty Images

Crown-of-thorns starfish

These spiky, venomous invertebrates are one of the Great Barrier Reef coral's chief nemeses. Scientists estimate these creatures are responsible for nearly a quarter of coral destruction over the past three decades.

Box jellyfish
14 of 15 Auscape/UIG/Getty Images

Box jellyfish

Extremely venomous and nearly invisible, the box jellyfish can extend its translucent tentacles up to 3 meters. Good luck, swimmers.

Barrel Sponge (Xestospongia testudinaria)
15 of 15 Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild/Getty Images

Barrel sponge

Sponges filter and clean the ocean, as well as serve as homes for smaller invertebrates. Similar to coral, these animals are also suffering because of changes in the ocean's temperature.

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