The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and pulling away from it, and viewing it from a greater distance, you can understand why. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space.
The reef, between 15 kilometres and 150 kilometres off shore and around 65 Km wide in some parts, is a gathering of brilliant, vivid coral providing divers with the most spectacular underwater experience imaginable.
The Great Barrier Reef has some of the best ocean life in the world. The Great Barrier Reef consists of about 3,000 individual reefs of coral, and the biodiversity they contain is remarkable. There are animals you would probably recognize, such as dolphins, turtles, crocodiles, and sharks. There are also venomous sea snakes, brightly colored worms, and large algae. These species interact to form a complex and delicate ecosystem dependent on the coral reef for survival. Yet today the coral—and therefore all the organisms that depend on it—is gravely at risk.
Coral is made up of many small animals. These tiny animals build a hard external skeleton to make the vibrant structures that we recognize. When healthy, coral has a symbiotic relationship with algae. The coral produces fluorescent chemicals that protect the algae from bright sun—almost like a sunscreen. The algae use photosynthesis to harness solar energy to make sugars. In this way, the algae provide food and oxygen (a byproduct of photosynthesis) for the coral, and the coral protects and provides nutrients for the algae. The algae also give coral its many colors.
A closer encounter with the Great Barrier Reef’s impressive coral gardens reveals many astounding underwater attractions including the world’s largest collection of corals (in fact, more than 400 different kinds of coral), coral sponges, molluscs, rays, dolphins, over 1500 species of tropical fish, more than 200 types of birds, around 20 types of reptiles including sea turtles and giant clams over 120 years old.