THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
Reef means a rock, sandbar or any other features lying beneath the surface of the water. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef system in the world. We can imagine the wide spread volume of the reef from the fact that it is the only living thing in the world which is visible from the space. It is larger than the Great Wall of China. UNESO has declared the reef as World Heritage site in 1981. According to reports it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
The Great Barrier Reef is the important attribute of the Eastern Highlands which is the longest mountain range of Australia and the 3rd longest in the world. It is located in the north east Australia at the coast of Queensland. It starts from Torres Strait which is a place between Bramble Cay and the coast of Papua New Gini to the Lady Elliot Island & Fraser Island. It covers the area of 344,400 square kilometers which is stretched to 2600 kilometers. The area of Great Barrier Reef is larger than the area of United Kingdom. There are 2900 individual reefs and about 900 islands.
According to the research the platform for the current reef was formed about 600,000 years ago. But the current living reef structure was developed about 20,000 years ago but at the remnants of the old reef structure. The sea level started rising about 6000 years ago steadily from the last 20,000 years. It rose with such steady pace that the current sea level is just 200ft higher than the sea level at 13,000 years back. With the continuous rise in the water allowed the corals to grow around the hills of the coastal plain. These were then called continental islands. Again rise in water submerged these continental islands. Then the corals started growing over the hills and with this the present cays and reefs were formed. According to the scientists the age of the current reef structure is about 8000 years old.
Reefs around the world are very supportive for the sea life to grow. The Great Barrier Reef also supports a great number of species to grow. These species include some vulnerable and endangered species. Here you can find different species of whales, dolphins and porpoises which are about 30. Famous species of whales are dwarf minke whale, humpback whale. Sea turtles are found in good number and six species of turtles have been recorded. A large population of dugongs is also found. You can find 125 species of shark, stingray, skates, 5000 species of mollusk, 49 species of pipefish and nine species of seahorse at the Great Barrier Reef. 1500 species of fish including clownfish, red bass, coral trout and snapper are also found. Other than the sea life you can find 215 species of birds and 2195 plant species on the reef. Famous bird’s species on the reef are white bellied sea eagle and roseate tern.
The Great Barrier Reef is a great tourist attraction due to its great spread biodiversity. It is the most important tour attraction in Australia. It is a big attraction for scuba divers. Most of the tourism in Great Barrier Reef is restricted to the Whitsundays and Cairns due to their accessibility. Many continental and coral cay islands have now turned to the tourist resorts. About 2 million tourists from around the world visit the Great Barrier Reef each year. It contributes about A$4 billion to the economy of Australia. Most famous tourist activities in the Great Barrier Reef are snorkelling and diving.
If you have the time and resources then it is the best place to visit and enjoy the beautiful beaches and islands of the Great Barrier Reef.