The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most amazing ecosystems, covering over 200,000 square kilometres off the coast of Queensland. The reef is home to over 400 species of coral, 1500 species of fish, 5-8000 species of mollusks, 30 species of whales and dolphins, and 6 species of marine turtles.
The Great Barrier Reef is easily accessed from the scenic North Queensland towns of Cairns and Port Douglas. If you decide to take a visit to see this world-wonder, you may be lucky enough to see some of the world’s most amazing sea creatures first-hand.
Here are 5 of the most amazing animals that live on the Great Barrier Reef.
1. Marine Turtles
Marine Turtles are a very special animal to call the Great Barrier Reef home. 6 out of the 7 species in the world live on the reef. Marine Turtles have been living in the oceans for over 100 million years, and have only recently began to face population loss and in some species the threat of extinction. The best place to view these graceful creatures on the reef is at Heron Island, located in the southern area of The Great Barrier Reef. Take a dive for your chance to swim with an animal that has been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth.
2. Sea Snakes
Sea Snakes probably don’t strike you as a creature you’d willingly want to have an encounter with, but these reptiles are truly spectacular to watch. Sea Snakes possess some of the most poisonous venom in the animal kingdom; however, there have been no reported deaths due to Sea Snake bites on The Great Barrier Reef. Sea Snakes are striking creatures and have brilliant colouring and grace in the water. They aren’t generally aggressive and may approach you on your dive out of curiosity. Don’t be alarmed, as long as you treat these creatures with the respect they deserve, you will be able to dive safely.
The Grouper is one of the most spectacular creatures that lives on the Great Barrier Reef. This fish is one of the world’s largest, growing up to 270 centimeters, and weighing up to 400 kilos. They are totally harmless to humans and feed on fish, octopuses, and crustaceans. Grouper are numerous in deeper areas of the reef so if you are going diving there is a great chance you will get to see one. Grouper are timid and will happily let you get quite close to them making them a great species to have a photo with.
No visit to The Great Barrier Reef would be complete without a peek at one of the ocean’s most unique creatures, the Seahorse. These amazing creatures live for only 1-5 years, and breed monogamously (one of the only fish in the world with this unique quality). In addition, the male Seahorse is the one responsible for reproduction of offspring, an extremely rare attribute in the animal kingdom. The Great Barrier Reef is also home to the lesser known cousin of the Seahorse, the Leafy seadragon. These creatures are visually spectacular to look at, and can be seen in shallow waters all over the Great Barrier Reef. They share many of the Seahorse’s unique attributes, but possess a greater ability to camouflage themselves with their leaf-like appendages.
Very few creatures can compare to the famous Dugong. These mammals are closely related to the elephant and feed only on vegetation such as sea grasses. It has been estimated that 14,000 of these strange looking animals call The Great Barrier Reef home. Dugong have played an important part in Aboriginal culture for thousands of years and they are still revered today. It is said that ancient Mariners may have mistaken these creatures for underwater women on long voyages, and is this possibly the origin of the Mermaid myth. Dugongs are rare and very shy creatures, so if you encounter one on your dive you would be in a select group of people lucky enough to swim with one of these spectacular creatures.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most amazing ecosystems and it is unfortunately under threat. Climate change is having a drastic effect on the reef with large areas of coral dying and becoming baron. If you have the chance to visit The Great Barrier Reef we highly recommend it. It’s a place of remarkable beauty and a place that we need to protect for future generations to enjoy.