One of the world's most remarkable natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef lies off Queensland's coastline.
Home to countless species of marine wildlife, stunning natural scenery and world-class experiences, the Great Barrier Reef is a national treasure that everyone needs to experience first hand!
Want to learn more Great Barrier Reef facts? Dive into the infographic below. If you are ready to plan your Great Barrier Reef trip, start here.
Great Barrier Reef Facts
Fast Facts: The World's Largest & Most Extensive Coral Reef System
- The Great Barrier Reef is the largest and most extensive coral reef system in the world comprising about 2900 individual coral reefs, 600 continental islands and 300 coral cays.
- It represents approximately 10% of all coral reefs in the world.
- The Great Barrier Reef spans two thirds of the north eastern coastline of Australia extending north from Bundaberg on Queensland’s coast to Cape York, the northern tip of Australia.
- It is 2300 kms long and approximately 350 000 kms2 in size. That’s about 70 million football fields or the size of Japan!
- It is the largest natural feature on earth and its impressive size makes it the only living structure that can be seen from the moon.
Fast Facts: World Class, World Heritage
- The Great Barrier Reef is recognised internationally as one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.
- Its outstanding natural significance was recognised in 1981 when it became the first coral reef system in the world to be awarded World Heritage status. It is the world’s third largest World Heritage Area.
- The Great Barrier Reef meets all four of the natural criteria for World Heritage listing, one of only a handful of natural areas on earth to do so.
- Over 99% of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is protected within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and about 50% of its islands are protected by National Park status. This ensures the coral reef system and its inhabitants are protected effectively and preserved for future generations to enjoy.
- The Great Barrier Reef is renowned as one of the world’s healthiest reef systems. This is due in part to innovative management and its status as a protected area.
Fast Facts: A Rich Underwater World
The Great Barrier Reef is home to:
- more than 30 species of whales and dolphins
- 1625 species of fish
- 411 species of hard coral and over 150 species of soft coral (equates to 10% of the world’s soft coral)
- as many as 3000 species of molluscs
- 6 of the world’s 7 species of marine turtles
- Giant clams over 120 years old
- Millions of nesting seabirds
- Turtles, crocodiles and sharks are the marine 'dinosaurs' of the Reef. Turtles have been on the Reef for 150 million years, crocodiles for 200 million years and sharks for around 400 million years!
These are the iconic marine animals of the Great Barrier Reef, that you have to see:
- Giant Clam
- Maori Wrasse
- Other spectacular wildlife that can be seen on some of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef include a range of birds like waders and birds of prey, some travelling great distances to nest there. Flying foxes and small mammals can also be found.
- Spectacular annual events including the northern whale migration, turtle nesting and coral spawning can all be experienced.
Fast Facts: World Class Reef Experiences…Above and Below the Water
- The Great Barrier Reef is easily accessible from various access points, including Port Douglas, Cairns, Townsville, Airlie Beach, 1770 and Bundaberg.
- The most popular way to experience the Great Barrier Reef is by boat. Scuba-diving and snorkelling, sailing, bare boating, cruise shipping and expedition cruising are just some of the world class water-based activities on offer.
- A range of “above water” activities are also available for visitors to experience the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet. These include air-based activities such as aeroplane and helicopter scenic flights over coral cays and islands or coral viewing from glass bottom boats.
- Other great activities of the Great Barrier Reef can be experienced on one of its 600 islands where visitors can stay at a tropical island resort, camp on a deserted island, hike one of the world’s best trails, take in spectacular views, meet the wildlife or simply take part in beach activities.