Beyond Gorgeous: Great Barrier Reef (46 PICS)

October 27th, 2011 Permalink

This is the planet’s largest coral reef system and it can be seen as far away as outer space! The gorgeous Great Barrier Reef is off the coast of Australia, in the Coral Sea, and stretches for 1,600 miles (2,600 kilometers); it’s made up of about 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands. It is the single biggest structure created by billions of tiny living organisms. The reef supports an extremely rich diversity of life and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. The beautiful Great Barrier Reef is also one of the very popular finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. Although a large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit human impact like fishing and tourists, tourism still generates around a whopping $1 billion per year. With the spectacular seascapes, landscapes, some of the most stunning marine scenery in the world, it’s not hard to understand why. It’s definitely on our bucket-list to see and dive before we die. Visitors often scuba dive and snorkel to photograph the remarkable and natural underwater beauty of the reef. [46 Photos]

You Can Help Conserve Coral Reefs

You can help conserve this gorgeous Great Barrier Reef, a consistently popular choice among the 28 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. According to NOAA, “Even if you don’t live near a coral reef, you can still have an impact on them. Awareness is a big step towards changing behaviors that threaten reefs, and ensuring your impact on reefs is a positive one. Therefore, we all need to be aware of the importance of, and threats to, coral reefs.” Photo #1 by NOAA’s National Ocean Service

A variety of corals form an outcrop on Flynn Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef near Cairns, Queensland, Australia

A variety of corals form an outcrop on Flynn Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef near Cairns, Queensland, a favorite among spots to scuba dive in Australia. Photo #2 by Toby Hudson


A Barrier Reef Anemonefish in host anemone. Pixie Garden, Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef

A Barrier Reef Anemonefish in host anemone. This one was seen at Pixie Garden, Ribbon Reefs, while diving. Photo #3 by Richard Ling

Hill Inlet - Whitsunday Islands National Park, Australia 2008

Stingrays at Hill Inlet – Whitsunday Islands National Park. Photo #4 by `◄ccdoh1►

A Variegated Lizardfish rests upon sponges. G Spot, St Crispin's Reef, Great Barrier Reef

A variegated Lizardfish rests upon sponges. The photographer noted the image was taken at G Spot, St Crispin’s Reef. Photo #5 by Richard Ling

Consider this a kiss to a special person who now walks a different shore along the Great Barrier Reef

The photographer said, “Consider this a kiss to a special person who now walks a different shore along the Great Barrier Reef.” Photo #6 by Patrick Emerson

Diving the colorful Great Barrier Reef

Diving the colorful GBR. Photo #7 by Kyle Taylor

Stretching more than 2,000 km -1,200 miles - along the Queensland coast, the Great Barrier Reef

Starfish on coral. Photo #8 by Richard Ling

Portrait of an Epaulette Shark. Garden of Eden, Wheeler Reef, Great Barrier Reef

Portrait of an Epaulette Shark at Garden of Eden, Wheeler Reef. Photo #9 by Richard Ling

Snorkelling with a Humphead Wrasse, Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling with a Humphead Wrasse. Photo #10 by brewbooks

ISS View of Earth's horizon as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean

If we massively zoom out, this is an ISS view of the Earth’s horizon as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Photo #11 by NASA

Stretching more than 2,000 km (1,200 miles) along the Queensland coast, the Great Barrier Reef

Stretching for an area more than 133,000 sq miles (344,400 sq km) along the Queensland coast, this is the gorgeous Great Barrier Reef. Photo #12 by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Landsat Team

Portion of the Great Barrier Reef as seen from ISS

Portion of the Great Barrier Reef as seen from ISS. Photo #13 by Astronaut Douglas Wheelock from the ISS / NASA

Helicopter - Great Barrier Reef

Here’s the GBR from a helicopter point of view. Photo #14 by Kyle Taylor

Colorful Great Barrier Reef

As we move even closer, it gets even more colorful. Photo #15 by Dai Fujihara

Diving in Australia, turtle at Great Barrier Reef

This turtle seems to be saying “Hi, take my picture!” Six species of sea turtles come to the reef to breed — the green sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, flatback turtle, and the olive ridley. Photo #16 by fugm10

Great White Shark at GBR

Great White shark. About 125 species of shark, stingray, skates or chimaera live on the reef. Photo #17 by Terry Goss

Olive green sea snake. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Olive green sea snake. There are 17 species of sea snakes living in warm waters up to 160 ft (50 meters) deep. None of them in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area are endemic, nor are any endangered. Photo #18 by Peter Nangle via Wibble_Roisin

Christmas Tree Worm - Great Barrier Reef

Christmas Tree Worm. Photo #19 by Richard Ling

Diving among the coral and fish

Diving among the coral and the more than 1,500 fish species that live here. Photo #20 by Boris Bialek

Brilliant stars at the bottom of the sea...Great Barrier Reef

The photographer proclaimed, “Brilliant stars at the bottom of the sea.” Photo #21 by Steve Evans

Blue Clam at Great Barrier Reef

These giant clams are the largest of all clam species can grow huge, up to 1.5 meters, nearly 5 feet, in length. There are about 5,000 species of mollusk on the reef, including the giant clam and various nudibranchs and cone snails. Photo #22 by Matt Kieffer

Octopus seen while diving, but there are equal chances of seeing at least one of the 30 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Photo #23 by fugm10

Port Douglas, Queensland - Cabbage patch - Great Barrier Reef

Port Douglas, Queensland – Cabbage patch – Great Barrier Reef. Photo #24 by Rob and Stephanie Levy

GBR Chromis Viridis on purple Acropora

Chromis Viridis on purple Acropora. Photo #25 by Brian Gratwicke

Port Douglas, The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

There are 400 colorful and varied species of hard and soft coral that make up the Great Barrier Reef. Photo #26 by Kyle Taylor

Scuba Diving with turtle at the Great Barrier Reef

Flying turtle seen while diving the GBR. Photo #27 by University of Denver

Small blue fish swim among the coral of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Small blue fish swim among the coral. Photo #28 by Steve Evans

stressed, bleached coral colony

According to climate change and ecosystem scientists, “When stressed, corals frequently expel their symbiotic algae en mass, leaving coral bereft of pigmentation and appearing nearly transparent on the animal’s white skeleton, a phenomenon referred to as coral bleaching.” Photo #29 by Ray Berkelmans, Australian Institute of Marine Science

Elisabeths Chromodoris at Great Barrier Reef

Elisabeths Chromodoris. Photo #30 by Taso Viglas

Hawkfish sitting on fan coral. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Hawkfish sitting on fan coral. Photo #31 by Peter Nangle via Wibble_Roisin

Baby White Tip Reef Shark cruising over the Great Barrier Reef

Baby White Tip shark cruising the Great Barrier Reef. Photo #32 by Boris Bialek

Copperband Butterflyfish Reef HQ - Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Copperband Butterflyfish Reef HQ – Townsville, Queensland, Australia. Photo #33 by `◄ccdoh1►

Wistari Reef

Wistari Reef. According to UNESCO, “There are approximately 600 continental islands including many with towering forests and freshwater streams, and some 300 coral cays and unvegetated sand cays” that make up the Great Barrier Reef. Photo #34 by Jon Connell

Our ship, the Coral Princess 2, sailing the Coral Sea around the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of tropical Australia. We were dropped off for a few hours of swimming and snorkeling

The photographer wrote, “Our ship, the Coral Princess 2, sailing the Coral Sea around the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of tropical Australia. We were dropped off for a few hours of swimming and snorkeling.” Photo #35 by Steve Evans

Basking Croc on Green Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The photographer wrote, “Basking Croc on Green Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.” Saltwater crocodiles live in mangrove and salt marshes on the coast near the reef. Photo #36 by final gather

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

This dreamy coast is called Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, Queensland. Photo #37 by Malcolmj

Lady Musgrave Island - Great Barrier Reef

Lady Musgrave Island. Photo #38 by platypusbloke

Great Barrier Reef - Chaetodon plebeius Cuvier,  Blueblotch butterflyfish

Chaetodon plebeius Cuvier, Blueblotch butterflyfish. Photo #39 by Brian Gratwicke

Daisy coral feeding - this is a night shot. Taken in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Daisy coral feeding – this is a night shot. Photo #40 by Wibble_Roisin

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

It’s not difficult to be wowed by the nature here, or to understand why the Great Barrier Reef continues to be a popular choice in the voting trends for the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. Photo #41 by Kyle Taylor

Queensland Great Barrier Reef Park

Queensland Great Barrier Reef Park. Photo #42 by platypusbloke

Port Douglas, Queensland - Marine Stingers Present Sign

Port Douglas, Queensland – Marine Stingers Present Sign. Photo #43 by Rob and Stephanie Levy

Turtle on the rock - Great Barrier Reef

The photographer wrote, “Did not know that turtles were into rock climbing but well….” Photo #44 by Boris Bialek

These jellyfish had washed up on Port Melbourne beach

These jellyfish had washed up on Port Melbourne beach. Photo #45 by Andrew Braithwaite


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