The Great Barrier Reef

Information about the

Great Barrier Reef

The World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most unique and amazing marine spectacles and is the largest natural feature on Earth – one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World!

And it’s big! The only natural feature visible from space, it extends for some 2300km (1300 miles) along the north-eastern coast of Queensland Australia, from the Far North to Bundaberg in the South. It’s not one single reef, but consists of about 2900 individual reefs. To put it in perspective, it covers an area about the same size as the United Kingdom, half the State of Texas or the length of the entire Japanese island chain.

Covering over 348,000 km2, it comprises fringing and barrier reefs, continental islands, coral cays and 70 different bio-regions, making it the most ecologically diverse system in the world.
The Great Barrier Reef supports over 1500 species of fish, 400 species of coral and 4000 species of molluscs just to name a few!

There are more different species of animals and plants in a cubic metre of the Great Barrier Reef than in any other environment in the world – including tropical rainforests. In fact, some reefs in the Great Barrier Reef have more different fish types than in the entire Caribbean Ocean.

Although coral reefs have been around for over 500 million years, the Great Barrier Reef is relatively young at 500,000 years, and this most modern form is only about 8000 years old, having developed after the last ice age.

Interesting facts

  • The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living structure. It is made of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.

  • Reefs grow only about half an inch (1.3cm) a year.

  • In 2012, Google launched the very first underwater Street View on the Great Barrier Reef – which you can view here!

  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority charges a tourist tax per visitor to help fund conservation efforts. It also maintains a list of high standard tourism operators to encourage visitors to choose responsible companies.

  • The movie ‘Finding Nemo’ was based on the Great Barrier Reef, with the titular character of Nemo being a Clownfish. 

  • Over 10% of the world’s total fish species can be found just within the Great Barrier Reef, along with over 200 different species of birds.

  • Thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded in the Great Barrier Reef.

  • The Great Barrier Reef is home to 6 of the worlds 7 different species of marine turtle.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Citizens of the great barrier reef