Australia's Great Barrier Reef is great in every way. One of the world's seven natural wonders, it is a prized World Heritage Area, the largest coral reef system and the biggest living structure on the planet. It sprawls over a jaw-dropping 344,400 square kilometres – an area so large that it can be seen from space.
Located off the Queensland coast, the Reef is composed of 3000 individual reef systems, 760 fringe reefs, 600 tropical islands and about 300 coral cays. This complex maze of habitats provides refuge for an astounding variety of marine life, plants and animals – from ancient , reef fish and 134 species of sharks and rays, to 400 different hard and soft corals and a plethora of seaweeds.
As one of the world's most popular tourist attractions, the Reef has a global reputation for its turquoise waters, kaleidoscopic corals, abundant life and over 900 islands. This includes the Whitsunday Islands, Lizard Island and Heron Island.
Together with the fishing industry, tourism reels in about $6 billion annually and supports some 69,000 Australian jobs. But the Reef is far more than an economic resource.
It is a network of marine sanctuaries of unparalleled ecological importance – a place where beauty transcends business, where nature reigns supreme. How much greater can you get?
WWF-Australia's goal is to halt and reverse the decline of species and the health of reef ecosystems in the Great Barrier Reef, while reducing the impact of climate change. We're have a mission to and restore and protect our natural environment.
Australians, indeed the whole world, loves the Great Barrier Reef and its breathtaking wildlife. Our Traditional Owners have a profound spiritual connection with the Reef and few can dive or snorkel in its clear waters without being moved.
In biological terms, the Reef is home to a treasure trove of plants and animals, many of them as yet unknown to science.
But all of this is at grave risk. The Reef is highly vulnerable. In the past three decades, it has lost half its coral cover, pollution has caused deadly starfish outbreaks, and has produced horrific coral bleaching. Coastal development also looms as a major threat. That’s why we need to act quickly and fight for the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was created in 1975 through theThe Park itself extends south from the tip of north Queensland, in north-eastern Australia, to just north of Bundaberg. It ranges between 60 and 250 kilometres in width and has an average depth of 35 metres in its inshore waters. On the outer reefs, continental slopes extend to depths of more than 2,000 metres.
Did you know, coral reefs are made of calcium carbonate? Tiny soft-bodied organisms called coral polyps help to form coral reefs.