The Great Barrier Reef

Hardy Reef, aerial view. Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea, Australia rel=
Hardy Reef, aerial view. Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea, Australia.
© WWF-Canon / Jürgen FREUND

The largest structure on the planet to be built by living organisms

What & where
The Great Barrier Reef is the collective name given to about 940 islands and 2,900 coral reefs rising off north-eastern Australia.

Area
It covers a stretch of about 2,300 kilometres and 35 million hectares from Cape York to Brisbane, and is the only living organism visible from space!

Why
The expanse, which covers an area larger than Italy, is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 5,000-8,000 types of molluscs, and more than 200 species of bird life.

It holds great scientific significance as it is the habitat of the vulnerable ‘dugong’ (sea cow) and 6 of the world's 7 species of threatened marine turtles.

The main industry on the reef is tourism and it is reported to generate more than 1 billion Australian dollars annually.

It was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1981 in recognition of its outstanding natural universal values, and is the world’s largest World Heritage Area.
Potato cod (<i>Epinephelus tukula</i>), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Queensland, ... / ©: WWF-Canon / Jürgen FREUND
Potato cod (Epinephelus tukula), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Queensland, Australia.
© WWF-Canon / Jürgen FREUND

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