Great Barrier Reef in Australia, photo and description

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. It sits off the northeast coast of Australia, spanning nearly 2,300 km along the mainland shoal. The reef is 2 km wide at the northern end and about 150 km wide at the southern end. This underwater work of art is one of Australia’s most famous and colorful attractions, attracting tourists from all over the world every year.

The structure of the Great Barrier Reef is made up of billions of tiny organisms known as coral polyps. It is the only result of organisms on earth that can be seen from space! The largest coral ecosystem on our planet has over 2,900 individual coral reefs and 900 islands in the Coral Sea. The reef covers 348,698 km² (by comparison, the UK covers 244,820 km²). A record number of informative nature films have been made about this huge marine park.

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Video: Great Barrier Reef


The National Trust has named the Great Barrier Reef as Queensland’s calling card. Tourism is an important part of economic activity in the region, generating more than $3 billion annually.

Hotels and infrastructure have been built on the major islands. These places – the embodiment of the idea of “heaven on earth”: a unique nature, excellent climate, amazingly comfortable water and air temperature, white sandy beaches, comfortable hotels and friendly service staff. This is the perfect place for lovers of active recreation. You can, for example, rent snorkeling equipment and take advantage of diving instructors. Excellent pastime will be boat trips on yachts and catamarans, fishing and all kinds of water sports. There’s also plenty to do on land, including miniature golf, go-karting, visiting the exotic Australian animal park, horse and bike rides. Hamilton Island even has an airport. The small island of Bedarra will appeal to those who want to relax in silence and hide from prying eyes. No more than 32 people can stay here at a time, because there are only 16 villas. You can also stay at the resorts of Dunk, Brampton, Hatzman, Keppel, Haimam, Heron, Magnetic, Orpheus, and Green. But there are islands on the Great Barrier Reef that have never been visited by humans.

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The Great Barrier Reef Panorama

Great Barrier Reef Ecosystem

It is almost impossible to describe the richness of the underwater world found on the Great Barrier Reef!

The species diversity is astounding! More than 1500 species of fish, 4000 mollusks, over 200 species of birds… find their home in the marine park.

Reef community includes coelenterates (polyps, jellyfish), many species of mollusks (gastropods, bivalves, cephalopods, etc.), sea turtles, snakes, worms, echinoderms (sea urchins, stars, snake-tails), bottom and free-floating fish, and marine mammals (dolphins, dugongs).

All this whirlpool of life exists under the strict laws of nature and natural selection, where everyone can be both predator and prey.

Sharks are also of genuine interest. The Great Barrier Reef is home to a wide variety of marine predators that are “coral garden sanitarians. On the bottom, squatinoids, carpet sharks, multitooth sharks, collar sharks and other species of bottom sharks prey. Here you can see nurse sharks, leopard sharks, feline sharks, spiny representatives of these cartilaginous fish. In the water column, among coral thickets, there are numerous reef sharks, catching and eating small reef animals and fish. There are large sharks – sand, hammerhead, lemon, and even white. Divers, swimmers and surfers should be especially careful in these areas.

There is also the famous whale shark! It’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest fish on the planet. But you should not be afraid of it: the “sea monster” feeds only on plankton. Dolphins and killer whales constantly hunt near the reef. Their victims are often humpback whales and minke whales. Breeding of humpback whales occurs near the Great Barrier Reef from June to August. On the southern islands of the reef, sea turtles lay their eggs, which are currently threatened with extinction.

All the “tasty” sea creatures – huge octopuses, squids, lobsters, lobsters, also live on the Great Barrier Reef. And lately, there have been truly huge populations of crown-of-thorns starfish. Today, this starfish is the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef. In a couple of months, it can destroy large numbers of corals. A graveyard of coral forms where these stars, which can kill even an adult with their venom, live. Until really effective methods to combat the “crown of thorns” have not yet been invented, and unfortunately, the destruction of entire reefs occurs more and more often.

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In addition to sea creatures on coral islands there are more than 200 species of birds. As for flora, it is very poorly represented. In the area of the reef barely scraped 40 species of plants that can survive in conditions where even the groundwater is characterized by high salt content. But this drawback is more than off-set by the unique aquatic fauna.

Despite its size and massiveness, the Great Barrier Reef is quite vulnerable. As its inhabitants are an integral interconnected part of the ecosystem, the population of one species of creatures should sharply decrease or increase – the reef will be in serious danger. This was the case in the 1970s and 1980s, repeated today, when the number of crown-of-thorns starfish increased dramatically.According to a study published in October 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences, the Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of the coral polyps that make up its structure since 1985.

Another serious problem has been massive coral bleaching due to a dramatic warming of the water. Algae living within the coral itself are dying off and the symbiosis is breaking down. Corals are replacing the dead algae that give them their bright, attractive coloring.

The Great Barrier Reef is the eighth wonder of the world, admirable and worthy of care. It supports life and biodiversity of living organisms, thanks to which it was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. Much of the reef is protected by the Marine National Park, which helps limit the harm from the results of human activities – fishing, pollution, tourism.


The Great Barrier Reef has attracted people since ancient times. About 10,000 years ago, Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders settled on coral islands.

In 1768, French navigator Louis de Bougainville discovered the Great Barrier Reef during an exploratory expedition, but he did not claim the rights to its territory to France. Thus, the discoverer of the Great Barrier Reef was the famous explorer James Cook. On June 11, 1770, his ship HM Bark Endeavour ran aground on the reef and sustained considerable damage. The approaching tide saved the ship and allowed it to continue sailing. The incident left a deep mark on the navigator’s soul; in his diary Cook wrote: “. The perils we had previously avoided were but a fraction of those of being cast adrift on the reefs, where in a moment there would have been nothing left of the ship. Continuing northward, James Cook found a navigable passage near Lizard Island and was able to put the ship onto the high seas.

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Many ships, maneuvering between the coral islands, were wrecked. But the research continued, as routes to the major trading cities of India and China and the shortest route from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean passed through the Torres Strait. For decades sailors argued over which route was safer: the outer route (through the Coral Sea with passage through the reef) or the inner route (between the shore and the reef). One of the most famous shipwrecks on the Great Barrier Reef was HMS Pandora, which sank on August 29, 1791. In 1815 Charles Jeffreys became the first man to sail a ship along the entire Barrier Reef from the land side. But it wasn’t until the 1840s, after much of the Great Barrier Reef had been explored and mapped in detail, that this route became safer. In the 19th century, scientists began a detailed study of the reef. At the same time business people arrived here hoping to realize their commercial potential. By the end of the 19th century pearls and trepangs from the Great Barrier Reef were being exported to London, Singapore and Hong Kong. The famous French scientist-traveler Jacques-Yves Cousteau also worked hard here, off the eastern shores of Australia.

Visiting this magnificent marine park, tourists get into a real, colorful, unforgettable fairy tale, which is impossible to convey in photos! We hope the Great Barrier Reef can be preserved as an ecosystem so that our descendants can enjoy this natural masterpiece for decades to come.

Great Barrier Reef

On the northeast coast of Australia lies the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world.

The Great Barrier Reef has its own unique ecosystem, making it one of the Seven Wonders of the Underwater World. It itself consists of small islands and coral reefs, its length reaches 2,500 kilometers, that is, almost along the entire length of Australia.

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Not surprisingly, about the Great Barrier Reef filmed the most scientific programs about the underwater world and devoted a lot of scientific articles.

At last count, the area of the coral reef is almost 350 thousand square kilometers, which greatly exceeds the area of many countries. In addition, it is worth noting that its area is constantly growing.

UNESCO has included most of the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site as a National Park.

Corals themselves are living organisms which, although very slow, are constantly growing, developing and even multiplying. Many of these corals form entire islands, which constitute an extremely fragile ecosystem that, without care, may not reach our descendants.

Origin of the Great Reef

Scientists have a great deal of speculation about the timing and conditions of coral reef formation. The official version says that the rudiments of coral organisms began to grow in this area 400,000 years ago.

However, the period of rapid coral growth can be traced back to about 8,000 years ago. This is directly related to water temperatures, which became maximally favorable for organisms during general warming.

It would take more than a lifetime to describe the diversity of the Great Barrier Reef’s flora and fauna. More than 1,500 species of fish live among the colorful coral formations.

The reef is also home to one of the largest aquatic creatures called the whale shark, which feeds exclusively on plankton and leading a very peaceful lifestyle compared to its name.

Coral reef is notable for the fact that it is here the largest concentration of dolphins and killer whales. In addition, humpback whales also breed here. Sea turtles also prefer to lay their eggs on islands formed by coral.

Remarkable reef large herds of arthropods: squids, lobsters, lobsters, large octopuses – all of them are found in the area of the Great Barrier Reef. Very large populations of starfish are known, the size of which amazes man from the other side of the world.

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Nevertheless, the vegetation on the Great Barrier Reef is rather poor. You can barely count 40 plant species on the islets. But the birds there are more than 250 species, which eat only the gifts of the sea.

Today, tourism in the coral reef area is extremely developed. Not surprisingly, the most popular type of recreation for visitors is diving. Diving excursions are conducted on detailed charts with guides.

While visiting the reef, you can see a huge number of luxury pleasure yachts cruising along the islands. Moreover, luxury hotels have been built on the largest islands, in which the most sophisticated tourist can remain satisfied, finding unity with nature.

Nevertheless, the Great Barrier Reef is a very fragile ecosystem, so tourists are warned about safety precautions during the dive and the prohibition to touch the coral reef wildlife. But not only people can cause harm to nature: some organisms in interaction with humans can cause severe poisoning. The Great Barrier Reef can fend for itself.

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