5 Inspiring Places to See Before They Disappear

Cross these amazing spots off your list before it's too late.

By Liz Weiss, Staff WriterApril 20, 2016
By Liz Weiss, Staff WriterApril 20, 2016, at 11:41 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

5 Inspiring Places to See Before They Disappear

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Friends stand in scuba gear in the ocean.
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(Getty Images)

Discover the world's vanishing natural treasures.

With the increasing threat of climate change, it's no secret that many of the Earth's most prized and endangered natural places are at risk of vanishing before the end of your lifetime. And while there are simple ways to become a more globally aware and responsible traveler, it's hard to deny the appeal of visiting awe-inspiring destinations and championing their preservation on-site. So, to celebrate Earth Month, start planning your trip to these five spectacular places and help preserve and support them – before they're gone forever.
Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Whitsunday Islands, Australia.
Credit

(Getty Images)

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Recognized as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef occupies more than 1,200 miles and is renowned for its magnificent corals and diverse species of fish, whales, marine turtles and other ocean life. But in recent years, the beautiful corals have become bleached due to the effects of above-average temperatures. Heightened temperatures, coupled with warming effects from El Niño, the powerful and irregular weather condition that causes Pacific trade winds to blow in the opposite direction and sea surface temperatures to rise, could potentially damage the 2,900 specific reefs dotting the continent's northeast coast and impact the ecosystem in the region. In fact, a study conducted in 2004 for the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and the Queensland Tourism Industry Council by a professor and economist at University of Queensland's Center for Marine Studies suggest that if sea temperatures continue to rise at this pace, parts of the reef could disappear by the 2050s.
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Discover the world's vanishing natural treasures.

With the increasing threat of climate change, it's no secret that many of the Earth's most prized and endangered natural places are at risk of vanishing before the end of your lifetime. And while there are simple ways to become a more globally aware and responsible traveler, it's hard to deny the appeal of visiting awe-inspiring destinations and championing their preservation on-site. So, to celebrate Earth Month, start planning your trip to these five spectacular places and help preserve and support them – before they're gone forever.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Recognized as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef occupies more than 1,200 miles and is renowned for its magnificent corals and diverse species of fish, whales, marine turtles and other ocean life. But in recent years, the beautiful corals have become bleached due to the effects of above-average temperatures. Heightened temperatures, coupled with warming effects from El Niño, the powerful and irregular weather condition that causes Pacific trade winds to blow in the opposite direction and sea surface temperatures to rise, could potentially damage the 2,900 specific reefs dotting the continent's northeast coast and impact the ecosystem in the region. In fact, a study conducted in 2004 for the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and the Queensland Tourism Industry Council by a professor and economist at University of Queensland's Center for Marine Studies suggest that if sea temperatures continue to rise at this pace, parts of the reef could disappear by the 2050s.

Maldives

With rapidly climbing sea levels, the Maldives – and its chain of 1,190 islands and atolls – are sinking quickly. The islands are low-lying at around 5 feet above sea level, and scientists estimate that the island nation's capital, Malé, which is surrounded by densely built structures and seawalls, is one of the areas at the highest risk. So, if you want to explore the Maldives' majestic coral reefs, private stilted villas and unspoiled beaches, now is the time to plan your trip. And if you're looking to plan a low-impact getaway, there are plenty of eco-friendly retreats, including the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, which features its own Marine Discovery Center that teaches guests about the area's marine ecosystem and offers guests the chance to join conservation efforts to support and protect endangered sea turtles.

Seychelles

Best known for its secluded sands, massive boulders and giant tortoises, Seychelles is a beach lover's paradise. But its string of 115 islands scattering the Indian Ocean are facing drastic and rapid erosion. In fact, climate change has already severely affected the coral reefs surrounding the archipelago, and the island's postcard-worthy beaches are quickly eroding. Experts believe that Seychelles, like the Maldives, may be in danger of sinking entirely in the next 50 to 100 years. Even worse, in addition to Seychelles' jaw-dropping scenery, its biological wonders and roughly 93,000 human population are at risk of being displaced, too. Happily, there is a silver lining: The government, in coordination with partners, is aiming to conserve and protect its marine biodiversity and help restore parts by prohibiting fishing from certain areas and eliminating invasive species.

Venice, Italy

It's hard to imagine this enchanting Italian city without its romantic canals. But a 2012 study conducted by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California–San Diego, suggests that with waters steadily increasing in the Adriatic Sea at the same pace (at about 2 millimeters, or .08 inches every year), Venice could sink by more than 7 inches each 100 years. Back in the 1920s, there were fewer cases of high tides, but with increasing tourism and sea levels, some suggest Venice could start to vanish before 2100.

The Dead Sea

Iconic for its warm, saline-infused waters, the Dead Sea is a must-visit for any trip to Jordan and Israel. A prime place for fascinating plants and species and the lowest land-based place on the planet, the Dead Sea was retaining its water supply until the '60s, when its surrounding countries began funneling water away from the sea's supply. Since the 1960s, more than 30 percent of the Dead Sea's surface area has vanished (an 80-foot water reduction).
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Liz Weiss, Staff Writer

Liz Weiss is a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report. With more than six years of ...  Read more

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