The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world, covering 2,000km, 1,250 miles. It is actually made up of 3,000 individual reefs and around 2,000 islands. The Great Barrier Reef stretches from Cape York, near East Timor right down to Bundaberg. As it hugs the Australian coast, its distance from the mainland varies.
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Great Barrier Reef Marine Life
Marine life abounds. Dolphins, sea turtles, friendly manta rays - plus every colour of fish and coral you can imagine. More than 2000 species of tropical fish call the coral reef their home. See giant clams, clownfish, beaked coralfish, coral groupers, butterfly fish, sea slugs, angelfish and anemone to name a few. There are numerous hard and soft corals - including staghorn and brain corals.
While many excellent coral formations can be found on the islands, the best Great Barrier Reef experience is found on the Outer Reef - about 50km, 30 miles from the mainland. A day trip by sailing boat, speedboat or aircraft is most highly recommended. They are available from the mainland and some islands. You might even choose to take a live-aboard cruise around this aqua-playground.
The best locations to take a reef tour from include, Port Douglas, Cairns, Townsville, The Whitsundays.
Diving or Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef
Perhaps scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, well-priced courses are available. If you dont have the time, it is easy for even the young and the elderly to master snorkelling on the reef. Its an amazing experience. The reefs colourful inhabitants are watching you as much as you watch them. Some fish are keen to interact with you.
Viewing the Great Barrier Reef by a Glass Bottom Boat
The less adventurous can view excellent coral from a viewing pontoon or semi-submersible boat with a glass bottom.
The most colourful corals and tropical fish occur close to the surface, in shallow waters with plenty of sunlight and great visibility.
Sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef
Visitors must be careful not to break or damage corals, which can take hundreds of years to repair.
In order to protect the reefs coral, there is a limited selection of locations along its 2000km expanse that can be visited by tourists. Similarly, fewer than 20 of the Great Barrier Reefs 2000 islands cater for visitors.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority was established in 1975 to protect this environment, and represents an area larger than Great Britain.
It is not hard to see why the Great Barrier Reef is one of the Eight Wonders of the World, and is World Heritage Listed by the United Nations.
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