Renowned for its coral formations, the Barrier Reef is ideal for snorkeling and is amongst the best in the world for discovering nature’s beauty.
One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the worlds most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches.
The Great Barrier Reef has become one of the worlds most sought after tourist destinations. A visitor to the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy many experiences including snorkelling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, bare boats (self-sail), glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins.
There is no doubt that the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s richest areas of diversity; supporting a dazzling array of colourful corals, sponges, anemones and worms. Many species of tropical fish, birds, mammals and reptiles are also found here. No wonder it is one of the jewels in Australia’s crown and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sadly, pollution, climate change and outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish are all threats to this fragile ecosystem.
Geology and Geography
The history of the development of the Great Barrier Reef is complex; after Queensland drifted into tropical waters, the history is largely influenced by how reefs fluctuate as the sea level changes. They can increase in diameter from 1 to 3 centimeters per year, and grow vertically anywhere from 1 to 25 centimeters per year; however, they are limited to growing above a depth of 150 meters due to their need for sunlight, and cannot grow above sea level. The land that formed the substrate of the current Great Barrier Reef was a coastal plain formed from the eroded sediments of the Great Dividing Range with some larger hills.
The Great Barrier Reef supports a diversity of life, including many vulnerable or endangered species, some of which may be endemic to the reef system. Thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded in the Great Barrier Reef, including the dwarf minke whale, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, and the humpback whale. Large populations of dugongs live there.
The Great Barrier Reef sustains the life of a large number of animals. That is why the government and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority ensure that the reef is safeguarded against activities or animals that threaten it. Given its importance to the number of animals living on the Great Barrier Reef, the government and the Marine Park Authority try their best to sustain and protect the reef. List of environmental threats to the coral reefs include the crown-of-thorns starfish, tourists, over fishing, oil spills, shipwrecks, the degradation of water quality, coral bleaching and the increase of global warming.
Tourism around the Great Barrier Reef began in the 1950s. During the 1970s, a range of tourism activities for ‘day trippers’ emerged. Since then, tourism at the Great Barrier Reef has significantly increased. It is estimated that each year about two million visitors travel through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Most of the tourism, about 85 percent, is focused around Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands. Tourism at the Great Barrier Reef region has both positive and negative effects. While tourism can provide a way to educate the public on the importance of the reef, the constant flow of people over a few select areas of the Great Barrier Reef region can also pose some problems. This chapter examines both the negative and positive effects of tourism on the Great Barrier Reef, and whether tourism on the reef is ecologically sustainable.
How this wonderful for us?
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most beautiful and amazing places to visit in the tropic region of Queensland. It is home to thousands of different fish species as well as many varieties of coral. The barrier reef remains lots of bizarre things in its blue and deep underwater world. It is famous for its coral reformation and natural beauty. There are many animals and plants. A coral reef forms underwater when thousands of tiny animals, only a few centimeters in length, establish a colony. These coral polyps build themselves hard, carbonate, exoskeletons to protect their bodies.The coral polyps are animals that feed on a variety of small organisms, like microscopic plankton or even small fish, using tiny tentacles with poisonous stinging tips. Many of the corals also have a symbiotic relationship with a type of algae.