One of the World’s Natural Wonders the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is about 500,000 years old, with its most recent growth starting about 8000 years ago. Coral reefs begin to build where large numbers of stony corals live together and skeletonise and together with sand, rubble, plants, and mollusks form a limestone foundation.
Layer by layer it builds over thousands of years.
Nearly 3,000 individual coral reefs and about 300 small coral islands called cays form the reef, which makes it the world’s largest structure made by living organisms.
It is the world’s largest coral reef system, extending about 2,010 kilometres (1,250 miles) parallel to the coast of the state of Queensland.
The reef is a foremost tourist attraction, bringing in about 1.6 million tourists a year. Cairns is one of the largest centres for reef tourism as well as a few secluded islands located farther offshore.
It may be surprising to some that corals are living animals, as they were long thought to be plants.
They have an opening or a mouth to take in nourishment, require shallow waters for oxygen intake and are very easily broken when collided with by foot or object.
White coral is in fact dead, but the bright, almost neon coral, a dazzling site whether beheld from above or beneath the sea’s surface, is very much alive and changes in colour with the water, which ranges from brilliant blue to aqua green.
These coral gardens along with underwater canyons, shipwrecks and marine animals make snorkeling and scuba diving the most popular activities on the reef.
Much of the Great Barrier Reef is still unexplored and will undoubtedly keep scientists busy for millenniums.
BIts great beauty that can be witnessed from outer space, will keep visitors captivated for all time.
While the draw for most travellers to The Great Barrier Reef is its breathtaking creatures, the actual reefs are just as stunning and worth taking a closer look.
Over a few millennia the structures formed by small animals, rocks, coral and sand have created an other-worldly environment best explored by snorkel and scuba.
To make a liveaboard excursion even more exciting, familiarizing oneself with the reefs first can be a way to spot species, identify the rarest and overall enhance the experience of seeing the Great Barrier in a whole new way.
The reef in danger
Sometimes there are threats to the reefs both natural and man-made.
In 2000, a crop of starfish called crown-of-thorns took out many coral species and they populated and fed on it. Some fishermen and other ships will damage the coral as well.
However, organizations such as the Australian government have initiated laws to prevent event like this from hurting tourism or the wildlife itself.
While the ebb and flow of various species come and go, overall the diversity and growth of the reefs stays mostly stable.
Not only are the animals and coral formations pretty to look at, scientists are finding out ways that the reef can help in medical advancements and sustaining the over world atmosphere.
These important findings make keeping the reefs clean and growing even more essential than ever.
How travellers can help
These efforts are translated over into eco-tourism efforts well. Becoming more observant of the reefs and its plant and animal life will not only make a dive better, but will educate guests in conservation and protection of this natural wonder.
They will know what structures are delicate and dangerous, leaving coral and flora intact.
This allows the reefs to continue to grow and be enjoyed for generations to come.
Snorkeling is an easy way to admire the reefs at a safe and secure distance.
While snorkelers can still almost reach out and touch the wildlife, they still are far enough away often that no damage is done to the creatures.
Guides who are based in places like Cairns will know the proper way to view the reefs and pass on their knowledge to the snorkelers.
This ensures everyone safety and unforgettable experiences for travellers who love snorkeling into underwater worlds.