he Great Barrier Reef is one of, if not the best natural wonder in the world. It’s the world’s largest and best known reef system and one of nature’s richest realms. Read on for fun and interesting Great Barrier Reef facts and answers to frequently asked questions about this spectacular natural wonder.
The Great Barrier Reef Facts for Kids & Adults – 15 Fun and Interesting Facts about the Great Barrier Reef You Always Wanted to Know
- The Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World and one of Australia’s World Heritage areas
- The Reef is longer than the Great Wall of China, and is larger than the UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands combined
- The Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing visible from space. Astronauts call it the ‘white scar on the face of the Pacific Ocean’
- The Great Barrier Reef has some of the world’s best diving sites
- You could dive the Great Barrier Reef every day of your life and still not see the entire Reef
- The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the world, and is made up entirely by living organisms
- The Reef is home to about 400 species of coral, 2,000 types of fish, 4,000 molluscs and countless other invertebrates
- Six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles breed here
- The Great Barrier Reef is made up of about 3,000 individual reefs and some 900 islands
- About a third of the reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef are fringing reefs, the other two-thirds are crescentic, platform, lagoonal or ribbon reefs
- Each of the ~3,000 reefs contain around the same number of fish species as the entire Atlantic Ocean
- The Great Barrier Reef is intimately linked, by the ocean waters and currents, to all other reef systems in the Indian and Pacific oceans
- For this reason, most species found in the Red Sea, Hawaii and south-east Pacific are the same or similar to the species found in the Great Barrier Reef
- Most of the Reef’s living corals are ‘young’. They’ve developed over 18,000 years since the last ice age. Many places where the Reef grows today were land before the last ice age
- Polyps, the animals that form coral, are close relatives of jellyfish. They can reproduce asexually by a method called budding
Frequently Asked Questions about the Great Barrier Reef
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Great Barrier Reef and our carefully thought out answers for each one. So, hopefully our answers satisfy your thirst for knowledge about this stunning natural wonder.
What is the Great Barrier Reef?
The Great Barrier Reef is the single largest living system in the world as it is entirely made up of living organisms, mainly coral. The Great Barrier Reef is made up of about 3000 reefs which are alive with 400 species of coral, 2000 types of fish, 4000 molluscs and countless other invertebrates. The reef is part of the superb Indo-Pacific coral reef systems, extending from the Red Sea to Easter Island.
Where is the Great Barrier Reef located?
The Great Barrier Reef is located in the Coral Sea (which is part of the Pacific Ocean), off the far northeast coast of Queensland in Australia. The Great Barrier Reef extends along the north-eastern Australian coast from Lady Elliot Island in the south, almost to Papua New Guinea in the north.
How long is the Great Barrier Reef?
Longer than the Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,300 km (1,429 miles) in a north to south direction.
How big is the Great Barrier Reef?
Bigger than Britain, the Great Barrier Reef covers an area of 348,000 sq km (134,364 sq miles).
How deep is the Great Barrier Reef?
The 3,000 or so reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef have an average water depth of 40m (130ft). However, the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef and the Queensland Continental Shelf (around which the reefs are scattered) is fringed by the Queensland Trench, which up to 2km deep.
How old is the Great Barrier Reef?
The Great Barrier Reef is about 18,000 years old, having formed after the end of the last ice age. At that time, sea levels were 130m below present levels. As the ice melted it caused the sea level to rise. During this time, there would have been periods of rapid rises, especially across the flat section of the Queensland Continental Shelf (which makes up the Great Barrier Reef). At other times, the sea level would have remained stable for extended periods or even fallen.
How was the Great Barrier Reef formed?
The Great Barrier Reef is made up of continental or mainland islands. The islands that make up part of the Reef are remnants of the mainland, protruding above the sea from the continental shelf. At the end of the last ice age, sea levels rose and covered the flat section of the shelf. Usually volcanic or sedimentary in origin, the reefs around these islands are there as a result of the island – the reefs have grown out from the island.
When was the Great Barrier Reef discovered?
The first recorded European visit to the (northern) Great Barrier Reef was by Portuguese Manoel Gidinho de Eredia in 1601, although there is strong evidence that fellow Portuguese had visited up to 50 years before. However, it was not until 1770 that Lieutenant James Cook made the first fully recorded ‘discovery’ of the Great Barrier Reef. Cook had passed through almost two thirds of the complex before he ran aground on it, giving him a good understanding of the problems later navigators would face. He described it as a labyrinth – a term appropriate to this day.
Why is the Great Barrier Reef important?
The Great Barrier Reef is the single largest living system in the world. It is home to 400 species of coral, 2000 species of fish, 4000 molluscs and countless other invertebrates. Six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles breed here. The Great Barrier Reef habitats support a myriad of parasitic and single-celled organisms that free-float in the warm tropical waters of the Reef. All these living organisms play an important role in the complex food chain and transfer of genetic material throughout the system.
How is the Great Barrier Reef protected?
The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s World Heritage areas, which means that it is one of the best protected marine areas in the world. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the World Heritage Area have implemented a range of management initiatives to help keep the Reef healthy and to build its resilience so it is better able to withstand the impact of threats to its environment. Today it is recognised as one of the healthiest coral reef ecosystems in the world but it faces a number of pressures, including from increasing coastal development.
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