Great Barrier Reef Facts
If you're travelling to Australia or are simply a little curious, it pays to have a basic grasp of some Great Barrier Reef facts. As one of the most magnificient natural wonders on Earth, the Great Barrier Reef is not only beautiful, but a vibrant tourist spot and shipping lane.
- The Great Barrier Reef is actually made up of 2,800 seperate coral reefs. Although they are individual reefs, they comprise a co-dependent system, much like a forest, but the area feautures 350 types of coral rather than trees. This system encaspsulates over 900 islands made up of coral sand.
- It is the only living organism that can be seen from space. At 1,800 miles long, the Great Barrier Reef runs along the coast of Queensland, on the eastern edge of Australia, and is larger than the Great Wall of China.
- The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most diverse eco-systems on Earth. The reef is home to over 1,500 species of fish, 330 sea cucumbers, sea slugs, and 30 varieties of whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Of partially aquatic animals, there are 215 types of birds that live in or around the reef and six species of sea turtles that come to roost at the reef. And of course, it wouldn't be Australia without seventeen types of sea snakes.
- Ancient shipwrecks litter the Great Barrier Reef. There have been over 1,600 known shipwrecks on the reef, going back to as long as people have been sailing through the area. Since coral tends to grow up around the wrecks, remenants of ancient ships can still be found in the reef. It is dangerous to sail in the reef, because of the coral cays that can rip up the bottom of a boat.
- The Great Barrier Reef is over 20,000 years old. But that's just the current living structure! There is evidence of complete coral reefs dating back as much as 600,000 years ago. With the slow growth rate of between two to five inches a year, the reef's size is that much more remarkable.