The Tour Specialists Tour Blog
10 Facts About The Great Barrier Reef
Posted on June 11, 2018 by Sophie Tabouel
When I hear the words “Great Barrier Reef” visions of scuba divers, people snorkelling, colourful marine creatures and coral set in the most pristine azure waters bombard my imagination. It is quite easily the most beautiful place I have ever seen!
So what do we already know about the Great Barrier Reef?
Well, most people would know it is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, located off the coast of central to North Queensland and stretches up to Papua New Guinea. A scuba-diving and snorkelling paradise! If you want to visit the Great Barrier Reef we have a wide variety of day trips even overnight ones departing from Cairns or Port Douglas.
Here are some facts you might not know about the Great Barrier Reef:
—The second most biologically diverse eco-system in the world!—
With over 1,500 species of fish, 600 types of coral, 200 species of birds, 5,000 species of molluscs and around 3,000, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s 2nd most diverse environment!
So who took 1st place??? The Daintree Rainforest!
It is quite ironic that these two natural wonders actually sit side by side just north of Cairns and Port Douglas at Cape Tribulation.
This is the first place in the world to have two world heritage listed sites meet!
—The coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef are carnivorous!—
Corals are nocturnal or night-hunting creatures armed with venomous tentacles to catch zooplankton, microscopic animals even the odd unlucky small fish!
Food obtained by a single coral polyp (coral head) can be shared to an entire colony of the same coral as they have an extensive interconnected stomach cavity!
—The animal with the fastest moving body part lives here!—
The “Mantis Shrimp” a crustacean that lives on the Great Barrier Reef, has the fastest recorded punch of any living animal on Earth!
The speed of its strike is so fast, it would overtake the bullet of a .22 calibre hand gun! In fact a single “punch” from an adult Mantis Shrimp has enough power to break the glass of a commercial aquarium!
—The only living organism visible from outer-space!—
The Great Barrier Reef is so huge; astronauts can see it from outer space! Satellites have also captured photographs of it!
No other living organism is big enough to be visible this far above the Earth’s surface!
—The Great Barrier Reef produces it’s very own natural “Sunscreen”—
On a low tide, it’s not unusual for the coral reefs to merge into the atmosphere above the ocean surface.
Just like any living organism in order to cope with the extreme temperatures in the tropics, it requires a bit of slip, slop, and slap!
Coral obviously can’t hop in the car and drive down to the local pharmacy, so it produces a protective mucous that protects its outer layer just like sunscreen!
—Lots of Shipwrecks with stories to tell—
There are currently 30 known shipwrecks on the Great Barrier Reef, however experts believe there are many more yet to be discovered!
Many Pearl Luggers, Cargo Ships even early explorer Captain James Cook had to learn the hard way of how destructive the Reef can be to a boat!
In fact, when Captain James Cook crashed his ship “The Endeavour” in 1770 into one of the reefs off Lizard Island, it was the time people first began to map the Great Barrier Reef.
The SS. Yongala, a passenger ship that was en route from Melbourne to Cairns in March 1911, steamed into a Cyclone and sank in approximately 30m of water off the coast of Townsville.
All 122 lives were lost including that of a famous race horse called “Moonshine” which was actually the only body to be recovered as it washed ashore near Cape Bowling Green.
An extensive search and rescue operation failed to find the wreck so it remained a mystery for over 50 years.
Thousands of theories were thrown around as to what happened, sailors even told stories about a “Ghost Ship” they believed was the Yongala and claimed to have seen!!
It wasn’t until 1958 when two divers found it.
Having sat on the bottom of the ocean for over 100 years, The SS Yongala is now an “artificial reef” covered in coral and marine life. It is a scuba diver’s playground!
—“Nemo” lives here!—
The famous Disney movie “Finding Nemo” is a story about father & son clown or anemone fish.
Anemones and anemone fish are found all over the Great Barrier Reef and if you’re planning a snorkel or dive trip, there’s a good chance you might see one!
What you might find interesting is that anemone fish are in fact hermaphrodites! In reality, if the female anemone fish were to die, the dominant male would transform into a female!
They never stray too far from their homes so they depend on this mechanism for survival of their species! It would make for quite a comical part 2 to “Finding Nemo” don’t you think?
—The Olympic Torch went through The Great Barrier Reef!—
During the lead up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Marine Biologist Wendy Craig-Duncan travelled on Quicksilver’s wave-piercing vessel from Port Douglas to the Outer Reef pontoon.
She carried the specially made torch underwater at their Agincourt Reef Site whilst scuba diving!
The event was televised for the whole world to see! It was the first time in history the Olympic torch had been underwater!
—The only place you can swim with whales!—
In the cooler months of each year, June – September, Dwarf Minke Whales migrate to the tropical waters of The Great Barrier Reef to give birth to their young.
During these months, passengers on board dive & snorkel vessels that have a special permit to swim with Dwarf Minke Whales like silversonic, Poseidon Outer Reef Cruises and Mike Ball Dive Expeditions will have a chance to snorkel with these amazing creatures.
How it works: Passengers will hold on to a floated safety line attached to the stern of the boat while the inquisitive whales swim and play beneath! It is an experience of a lifetime!
—See it before you “kick the bucket”—
If you run an internet search titled “Bucket list ideas” nearly all of them have “see the Great Barrier Reef” listed in their “Top Ten”. There’s no wonder why really! It truly is an amazing place! No many how many times I visit the Great Barrier Reef, whether it is for fishing, scuba diving, snorkelling or scenic helicopter flights, I never get sick of it! I am constantly blown away by its beauty and hidden secrets! I guess you could describe it as an addiction! So if you’re thinking of writing a bucket list, add the Great Barrier Reef to your “Top Ten” I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
If you would like to visit the great Barrier Reef either for the day or for an extended liveaboard trip, give us a call 1300 761 612
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