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Fun Facts About The Great Barrier Reef

Updated Thu 01 Feb 2024

The Great Barrier Reef is a biodiverse, gigantic ecosystem, comprised of coral reefs and plenty of wondrous marine life. Here in the Whitsundays, we are lucky enough to have the Great Barrier Reef right on our doorstep! So, whether you’re looking for inspiration for you’re next tropical getaway, or doing your research before diving in for an out-of-this-world snorkel, check out these 10 fun facts about the incredible Great Barrier Reef! 

Underwater shot of a shark on the Great Barrier Reef

10 Amazing Great Barrier Reef Facts

1. The Great Barrier Reef holds the largest coral reef system in the world

Covering an area of 344 400 km2, the Great Barrier Reef is actually bigger than UK, Switzerland and Holland combined! Spanning from Bundaberg up to the northmost point of Queensland, the diverse and colourful array of individual coral systems are abundant. Only 7% of the Great Barrier Reef is utilised for tourism purposes, yet there still seems to be endless pristine waters to explore and fringing reefs to swim through... that's how big it is!

Great Barrier Reef largest ecosystem world facts

2. You can see the Great Barrier Reef from space

Yep, you heard that right… you really can see the Great Barrier Reef from outer space! The sheer size of the reef, combined with the contrast of turquoise shallow waters and deep blue depths create a masterpiece only seen by space explorers. An astronaut from Nasa managed to snap this shot from the International Space Station of our stunning, unmistakable Great Barrier Reef!

Nasa Great Barrier Reef From SpaceImage: NASA

3. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s seven wonders

As a World Heritage Listed Site, the Great Barrier Reef comprises one of the World’s seven natural wonders! Other natural wonders include the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest, all of which are undoubtedly bucket-list items we’d all love to tick off. Luckily, this one is right here in your Whitsunday backyard, waiting for you to dive in and experience the magic!

man snorkelling over coral reefs in the whitsundays

4. Over 1625 types of fish are found in the Great Barrier Reef

Absolutely bustling with fish big and small, rare and common, the Great Barrier Reef is called home by over 1625 types of fish… a diver’s paradise! Angelfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, cardinalfish, gobies, cod, sweet lips and clownfish are some of your more typically spotted fish in the Whitsundays. However, big fish include reef sharks and whale sharks and are usually chilling out in quiet areas of the Great Barrier Reef.

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person snorkelling with fish in the Whitsundays Reefs

5. Corals are not plants, they are actually animals! 

When you picture the Reef, you may imagine hundreds of weed-like marine plants called coral. However, corals are actually animals or colonies of organisms called polyps to be exact! These Corals are the only animals that also go through photosynthesis, so seeing corals as plants is a very common misconception! With over 300 types of hard and soft corals composing the Great Barrier Reef, the variety of hues, textures and shapes is simply phenomenal! 

Great Barrier Reef Coral Reefs Whitsundays Animal Facts

6. The Great Barrier Reef wasn’t always underwater

Over 40,000 years ago before European invasion, the Great Barrier Reef was actually a flat plain ecosystem, that looked completely different to what it does today! Melting glaciers and shifting continents caused the Great Barrier Reef submergence. Now, we have a rich, thriving marine ecosystem, however, it wasn’t always wet in the Great Barrier Reef! 

Whitehaven Beach swirling sands and blue water

7. The Traditional Owners used to travel by canoe through the Great Barrier Reef

The rich history of tribes who lived amongst what we know call the Great Barrier Reef is intriguing and full of valuable lessons for conservation today. The Ngaro tribes, who lived in harmony around what is now called the Whitsundays, used to use canoes handmade out of ironbark to travel great distances across seas to hunt. Now, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority works with Indigenous groups to help conserve the Reef and learn from its interesting and also devastating history.

Ngaro Cave paintings in the Whitsunday Islands

8. The Great Barrier Reef holds over 30 species of dolphins and whales

It truly is incredible to spot one of these stunning marine mammals in their natural habitat. Known to be friendly and curious, both whales and dolphins are magnificent sights to see as they frolic through the pristine turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef. If you’re lucky, you may spot a bottlenose dolphin, or even a Humpback whale while you’re here in the Whitsundays. 

dolphins frolicking in the ocean near the Great Barrier Reef

9. Finding Nemo was set in the Great Barrier Reef

The famous Pixar film ‘Finding Nemo’ was actually set in the Great Barrier Reef. While some parts of the movie were unbelievable, like the talking fish and vegetarian sharks, some aspects of Finding Nemo were pretty accurate! Anemones like the one Nemo and Marlin live in are found all around the Reef, just like the corals that feature in the movie. Green sea turtles like Crush and Squirt are also found abundantly in the Great Barrier Reef! 

turtle swimming in the blue waters of the great barrier reef

10. Snorkelling and diving the Great Barrier Reef has never been more affordable!

With an array of awesome deals, the Whitsundays has never offered such cheap prices to get you out onto the Reef, so experience the wonders that mother nature has on offer now! Our slice of pristine paradise is waiting to be discovered, so grab your mask and snorkel to dive into the cool, clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef and explore secret diving spots home to kaleidoscopic corals and unbelievable marine creatures today! 

travelers going snorkelling in the whitsundays reefs

Our dive-loving team of locals are here to help you find the perfect Great Barrier Reef experience for you, whether it be with your friends, family, partner or just you! 

Get in touch with us today for unbeatable deals and unforgettable memories made just below the surface. Call an experienced travel expert on +61 7 4914 2425 or live chat with us here!

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