The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the world's largest coral reef system, composed of roughly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for 2,600 kilometers (1,616 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometers (132,974 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia, and can be seen from space.
From jellyfish to whales and a wide variety of fish, the reef supports such a diversity of life, including many rare, endangered species. The reef has skeleton deposits dating back half-a-million years, but among these deposits lives a world of colour. Coral alone can be from red to blue, and even white. Despite its stone appearance, coral is actually alive and growing. Corals have been growing in the region for as long as 25 million years, but have not always formed coral reef structures. Four-hundred species of corals, both hard corals and soft, are found on the reef.
More than 1500 species of fish live on the reef, including the Clownfish (below), Red Bass, Red-Throat Emperor, and several species of Snapper and Coral Trout.
Around 125 species of shark, stingray, skates or chimera live on the Great Barrier Reef.
Close to 5000 species of mollusk have been recorded on the Great Barrier Reef including the Giant Clam, various nudibranches and cone snails, and the cuttlefish seen below.
The Great Barrier Reef was named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World by CNN in 1997, and it's no wonder, given its span, its diverse inhabitants, and its wonderful colors.
Have you been to the Great Barrier Reef?
Have you seen any of these creatures in real life?