Great Barrier Reef Things to Do, Places, Attractions, Hotels, Tours

The Great Barrier Reef is a collection of over 2,900 individual coral reefs and 600 idyllic islands located along the north eastern coastline of Australia. It is the largest coral reef in the world. The Great Barrier Reef has the most diverse range of underwater animals found anywhere on earth. Over two million tourists visit the area each year. It is ideal place for snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming sailing, whale and dolphin watching and lots more.

Related Article: Great Barrier Reef —Facts, Coral, Animals and Plants


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What is the Great Barrier Reef?World's Largest Coral Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. It is so large that it is the only living organism on the planet that is visible from space. In terms of size, it is as big as Germany or Japan and half as big as Texas.

How Big is The Great Barrier Reef? Size, Length & Location

The Great Barrier Reef (marked in grey on the map) is  is 2,300 km long and is located between 15 to 150 kilometres off the north-eastern coast of Queensland, Australia in the Coral Sea in the Pacific Ocean. It extends from the tip of Cape York Peninsula in the north to Bundaberg in the south. The width of the reef varies from between 60 to 250 kilometres wide. The total area of the Great Barrier Reef is 344,00 sq kilometres. It has an average depth of 35 meters in its in-shore waters.


How Old is the Great Barrier Reef? Age of the Great Barrier Reef

The age of the Great Barrier Reef is about 6,000 to 8,000 years. The present coral reef is believed the have had two major phases of development. The first was about 600,000 years ago. This reef died due to changes in sea level and climate change. The second phase started about 20,000 years ago when new coral started to grow on top of the older reef. As the sea levels rose, at end of the last glaciation period, the rising sea water started to cover low lying hills along the east coast of Australia. The coral reefs slowly started growing on this newly submerged land. Around 13,000 years ago the sea level stabilized. The current Great Barrier Reef configuration is about 6,000 to 8,000 years old.


Great Barrier Reef Animals What Animals Live on the Great Barrier Reef?


The Great Barrier Reef has the world's most diverse range of underwater animals. These include:

• 1,625 species of fish
• 360 types of coral
• 3,000 types of molluscs (like clams and the sea slug)
• 215 species of birds
• 14 species of sea snake
• 6 out of the world's 7 species of sea turtle (all listed as threatened)
• 630 species of echinoderm ( starfish, sea urchins)
• 30 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins)
• 22 species of sea birds and 32 species of shorebirds
• 30 species of dolphins and whales
• 133 species of sharks and rays
• 1,300 species of crustaceans (crabs, prawns)
• 450 species of hard coral
• 40 species of sea anemones
• 150 species of soft coral and sea pens
• 100 jelly fish (blue bottle, box jellyfish)
• sponges
crocodiles

Related Article: Great Barrier Reef Animals


Great Barrier Reef Plants What Plants Live on the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef is home to a variety of underwater vegetation. Unlike on land, the sea does not have sea-forests with underwater trees and scrubs. The most prevalent type of plants are sea grasses. It also contained various types of algae such as seaweed, which are not true plants at all. Mangroves, which are actually terrestrial plants that is they grow above the surface of the sea, are also considered part of the Great Barrier Reef flora.


How did the Great Barrier Reef get its Name? Who Named the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef was sighted by various European explorers from as early as the 17th century but none of them provided it with a name remembered today.

It was Matthew Flinders, who was the first to survey the entire Australian coastline between 1801 and 1803, who gave it a name that stuck. He actually called it the Extensive Barrier Reef. Over time this name morphed into The Great Barrier Reef.

Great – It is the largest and longest coral reef in the world being over 2,300 kms in length and covering an area of approximately 344,400 km²
Barrier – The reef acts as massive a natural barrier protecting the coastline and is separated from the coastline by a deep channel of water.
Reef – A natural underwater ridge just below the surface close to a shoreline is called a reef.


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