One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef composed of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays and many picturesque tropical islands with some of the world’s most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches. The Reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
1. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on Earth which is visible from the outer space. This incredible eco-system is 2,300km long and approximately 350,000 square kilometers in size. There are thousands of reef and hundreds of islands. There are 600 types of hard and soft coral.
2. This beautiful Reef provides shelter to countless species including 6 species of turtle, 215 species of bird, 17 species of sea snakes, 30 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises and more than 1,500 species of fish including clownfish, red bass, red-throat emperor and many species of snapper and coral trout. 10% of the world’s total species of fish can be found just within the Great Barrier Reef.
3. The Great Barrier Reef is labeled as one of the seven wonders of the natural world by CNN and named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981. It is larger than the Great Wall of China. The Reef is greater in size than Tasmania and Victoria combined and believed to be over 20,000 years old.
4. The reef has been under several environmental pressures including climatic change, pollution, overfishing, oil spills and when the water temperature rise for a sustained period of time. These threats have led to mass coral bleaching. Great Barrier Reef suffered the worst bleaching in 2016. As per records, the higher water temperature in 2016 caused the worst destruction of corals, putting the reef in danger of extinction.
5. The Great Barrier Reef has long been known to and used by the Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander people who have been living in the area for ten thousands of years. The Australian government even recognizes these clan groups as the “traditional owners of the reef.”
6. Due to its huge biodiversity, warm clear waters and easy access from the tourist boats, the Great Barrier Reef attracts over 2 million of tourists every year, specially the scuba divers, adding 7 billion dollars a year into the local economy. A variety of boats and cruise tours are offered. Snorkeling and diving are the most popular activities among the tourists and glass-bottomed boats and underwater observatories are also famous.
7. A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It was created in 1975 by the Australian government to protect the reef and limit the impact of human use.
8. While the average depth of the inshore waters of the reef hovers around 35 meters, the drop-off from the Continental Shelf slopes down to the depth of more than 2 km.