1615 miles across, in the Coral Sea just off the coast of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef is home to an immense 2900 smaller reefs and thousands of species of fish, corals and sponges. The reef runs almost parallel to the Queensland coast, starting on a level with Cape York and ending on a level with the town of Bundaberg. As well as these underwater creatures, the 900 small islands that are within the Great Barrier Reef also house many species of plants, land-dwelling animals and birds.
Formed around 25 million years ago, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is the only structure visible from space that is 100% alive. Some of the hundreds of species of underwater animals found there use the Great Barrier Reef as their permanent home, but also as a place to migrate to and breed in (such as the humpback whale). There are several endangered species of clam, sea-cow and green sea turtle there, which is why it is such a protected area.
Today the great barrier reef is one of the seven wonders of the underwater and natural worlds, amongst other prestigious titles and its tourism industry is huge.
While the rock foundations that now support the Great Barrier Reef were formed as many as 65 million years ago, the waters were simply too cool to support coral growth until 24 million years ago. Even though corals did grow at this time, and during several periods afterwards, there were also a number of geological situations that meant the survival of any reefs was impossible. As a result, we can deduce that the reef that exists just off the coast of Australia’s Queensland today actually rests on a platform made from the reefs formed 18 thousand years previously.
The reef that we see, dive into and explore is actually only 1000 years old and considering it is so young, the rate at which global warming is affecting its growth is worrying for the future formation of this one of the seven wonders of the underwater world.
Why it Was Chosen:
Not only is the Great Barrier Reef one of the seven wonders of the underwater world, but it is also one of the seven wonders of the natural world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well!
CEDAM International, the American Diver’s Association which stands for Conservation, Education, Diving, Awareness and Marine Research) named the Great Barrier Reef as one of the seven wonders of the underwater world when it compiled the whole list in 1989. The seven wonders of the natural world were compiled much more recently in 2008.
Considering the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef, it would make no sense to have left it out of the seven wonders of the underwater world list. We can only hope that it being so well respected can help to conserve this natural wonder and keep it growing for many thousands, even millions of years to come.
How Can it Be Seen?
Visiting the Great Barrier Reef is incredibly, easy, considering it lies just off the coast of one of Australia’s most populous well developed states. The Great Barrier Reef is perhaps the only one of the seven wonders of the underwater world that has its very own airport (HTI/YBHM) making it very quick and easy to fly there directly.
Once you arrive at Great Barrier Reef Airport and check into your hotel or other accommodation you should head straight for the Great Barrier Reef marine park, where 1.6 million tourists visit every year for diving, snorkeling and boating excursions. The marine park is actually a conservation effort that will point you in the direction of diving schools that respect and help protect this natural wonder. As you can imagine, too much interference with the delicate marine life within the Great Barrier Reef can cause it to die.
The Great Barrier Reef is a huge yet diverse place for tourists to travel to. The activities that you will find here have made Queensland well known for not just diving and snorkeling but also other activities like surfing and canoeing. Spending a 7 day holiday vacation at a nice hotel that you booked in Queensland through Expedia is easy since they have great prices on rooms year round. Keep in mind that the seasons are different in the land down under. What this means to you is that December through February is their summer months.