Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is off the north-east coast of Queensland, in the Coral Sea. Visible from outer space, it’s the planet’s largest coral reef system, built by trillions of the tiny coral polyp organisms. This huge structure supports an amazing diversity of marine life and is protected in the form of the Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Great Barrier Reef is also important to Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal Australians for both spiritual and cultural reasons. The Great Barrier Reef Cairns region, Lady Elliot Island and the Whitsunday Islands are very popular with visitors.

The waters of the Great Barrier Reef are ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling. They contain an incredible biodiversity, in relatively warm and generally very clear diving conditions, particularly at the outer part of the Reef.

The many species of porpoises, dolphins and whales, the large populations of marine dugong (sea cow) mammals, the many colourful fish (e.g. snapper, red bass, clownfish) and sea snake, the six species of sea turtles and the saltwater crocodiles will keep divers fascinated for days.

Daily or longer boat trips from several spots on the mainland are also on offer and some of the boats are glass-bottomed in order to observe the sea life without the need to get wet.

In general, the concept of eco-tourism thrives in the Great Barrier Reef. Nevertheless, this location may be under considerable pressure from the presence of too many visitors. Additional threats including the climate (e.g. tropical storms), pollution, climate change, oil spills and other shipping accidents make the Great Barrier Reef a particularly vulnerable location.

Image credits: Eric Faller, Dai Fujihara, jtriefenSteve Evans

Karen Bryan

As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save

Posted : Monday, July 23rd, 2012 at 10:00
Category : Spotlight
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