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Barrier Reef - A Profile of the Great Barrier Reef


Clownfish, Great Barrier Reef / The Lightworks, Flickr

Clownfish on Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia

Photo by The Lightworks, Flickr


The Great Barrier Reef is renowned for its beauty and marine life diversity. At a length of 1,430 miles, it is the world's largest coral reef. It is so large, it is the only living thing visible from space. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, a marine protected area 128,960 square miles in size, surrounds the reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is located off Australia's east coast. In some places, it is within 10 miles of shore. It is a popular site for diving, commercial and recreational fishing, boating, and whale watching. According to greatbarrierreef.org, there are 820 operators and 1,500 vessels permitted to operate within the marine park.

Marine Life of the Great Barrier Reef:

Like most coral reefs, the Great Barrier Reef is astounding in its marine life diversity. The reef system contains 400 species of coral, thousands of species of fish and invertebrates, and is home to larger marine animals such as whales and sea turtles.

Threats to the Great Barrier Reef:

Until recently, many uses were allowed across the entire Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Zoning rules more recently established dictate the uses of the Great Barrier Reef in any given spot, and tour operators must be permitted to conduct activities in the park. About 1/3 of the park is designated as a "no-take" zone, a process that began only in the late 1990's. Zoning maps are provided by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and at local tackle shops, tourism centers and other outlets.


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