You'll Never Believe What the U.S. Military Just Did to the Great Barrier Reef

You rarely hear "Australia" and "bombing" in the same sentence. One of the world's most innocuous nations and a country that's been able to relatively avoid international conflict in recent years, attacks on the Land Down Under have been few and far between.

This one's on us.

Four bombs were dropped on Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Saturday after a training exercise went wrong. Two U.S. fighter jets each released one inert bomb and one unarmed explosive into the waters after a mission to test the bombs on Townshend Island was aborted because the area was reportedly unclear of hazards. When both jets were low on fuel and couldn't land with the bulk of their bombs, they jettisoned them more than 150 feet from any coral. In a statement shortly after the incident, the U.S. 7th Fleet said that the strategic location should minimize damage and that none of the bombs have exploded.

Still, this could cause serious controversy, and rightfully so. Soaring around the globe to test explosives may seem a bit inappropriate as is, but subsequently dropping those explosives on one of the seven wonders of the world is nothing short of ugly. The Great Barrier Reef is known for its biodiversity and ecological endangerment, and regardless of any explosions, dropping all that mass into a fragile ecosystem could have long-term effects.

"How can they protect the environment and bomb the reef at the same time? Get real," Graeme Dunstan told Yahoo. Dunstan's a leading environmentalist and antiwar activist who's less than pleased with America's reckless bomb testing. Barack Obama's been adamant about sidestepping Congress to tackle climate change, and perhaps this will put environmental issues back on the map in U.S. politics.

The Australian government has yet to respond to the bombs.

What do you think about the mishap? Catalyst for change or simple mistake dramatized by the media? Sound off in the comments.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Steven Goldstein

New York native, junior at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. I'm a beat writer for FOX Sports Next's Purple Wildcats, a Scout.com coverage site. I'm also a featured columnist at Bleacher Report, a top national sports destination, and a contributor to HipHopDX, TD Daily and KevinNottingham.com. I'm a freelancer for Liberty Mutual's Coach of the Year award in college football. I was an intern at PolicyMic's Manhattan office for the summer of 2013.

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