The Great Barrier Reef Australia
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the world's largest reef system, composed of over 2,900 individual reefs, and 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi)
Over 99 percent of the World Heritage Area falls within the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in north-east Australia.
Tourism to the reef generates approximately AU$ 4-5 billion per year.
Has 130 species of sharks and rays The smallest and largest sharks in the world have been seen on the reef: The Dogfish (less than 30cm), and the Whale Shark (up to 21m)
Thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded in the Great
Home to approx 13,000 dugong (Australia's entire dugong population is
about 90 000)
Six species of sea turtles come to the reef to breed.
215 species of birds (including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds) visit the reef or nest or roost on the islands.
Seventeen species of sea snake live on the Great Barrier Reef.
More than 1,500 fish species live on the reef.
360 species of hard coral.
One third of the world's soft corals.
5000 - 8000 species of molluscs (eg. shells)
400 - 500 species of marine algae
600 species of echinoderm (eg.starfish, sea urchins)
The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms.
This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps.
The Great Barrier Reef has long been known to and used by the Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and is an important part of local groups' cultures and spirituality. The reef is a very popular destination for tourists, especially in the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns regions.