Great Barrier Reef. To See This Natural Wonder Of World Is An Exhilarating And Enriching Experience.
Being the largest structure made by living organisms, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is even visible from outer space. It is bigger than the Great Wall of China and has been declared as a Word Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is the world’s largest coral reef with more than 2,900 reef systems and a huge number of marine animal and plant species. It stretches 3000 km along the coast of Australia and is bigger in size than the UK, Holland and Switzerland combined. It spreads across 347,800 square km.
The reef has long been known to the aborigines and today it is a great tourist attraction in the state of Queensland in Australia. The revenue from tourist visits is $1 billion annually. It is a nature’s gift to Australia and it is blessed with breathtaking natural beauty. This large ecosystem has scattered islands along the coast of Australia. A Marine Park was established in 1975 and is the largest protected marine area in the world. There is an abundance of marine life with more than 1500 species of fish, 400 species of corals, 4000 species of mollusks, 500 species of seaweed, 215 species of birds, 16 species of sea snake, and 6 species of sea turtles.
The Great Barrier Reef runs parallel to the state of Queensland. Several cities have developed along the coast and on the islands. These are great tourist attractions as well. The beauty of the largest ecosystem in the world can be explored from the sky by going on a helicopter tour and/or by diving into the sea and getting close to the reefs and corals. You can also take a ride in a glass-bottomed boat to view the wonderful coral. To see this natural wonder of the world is an exhilarating and enriching experience which is why The Great Barrier Reef has become one of the most sought after tourist destinations on the world.
Hundreds of tour operators work year-round operating large vessels to provide excellent facilities to the tourist to get a chance to see this natural wonder. What these tourists see is nothing less than spectacular as they witness sea life that they have not imagined in their wildest dreams. It is not just the corals and reefs that are breathtaking. During winters, it is normal to encounter whales as they migrate from the Antarctic up to the reef to mate and give birth.
They are mostly seen in shallow waters near Harvey Bay and Port Douglas. The most spectacular of these species of whales is the Humpback. Whale watching is one activity that has become tremendously popular in recent years and tourists from all over the world come to see the large animals in its natural habitat. Dolphins are another attraction as they can be seen all year round in these reefs. If you are with your family, your kids will have a great time with these playful creatures that will impress you with their activities.
Coral reefs are made up of millions of tiny organisms called coral polyps. These polyps are prey to the Crown of Thorn Starfish that have grown in enormous numbers in the entire region. This is attributed to over fishing of the starfish’s predators and also to poor water quality that is endangering the reef system in general. Since the 1950’s, the Crown of Thorns has been destroying the corals and this can have a devastating effect on the ecosystem, which is home to so many species of animals and birds.
Other creatures that are found in abundance are mollusks, and according to a study, there are more than 5,000 species of mollusks found in the Great Barrier Reef. Giant clams are known to be the largest mollusks that grow up to 3 feet in size and live up to 70 years. One of the species called cone shell, is known to be a dangerous predator as they shoot their prey with a poisonous tooth that kills the prey.
Human activity in and around these great reefs has endangered the ecosystem which is why UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Zone in 1981. Increased pollution has caused much damage to the ecosystem and the Australian government is doing what it can to preserve the beauty of this natural wonder of the world.