The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s best-known natural landmarks. This Australian icon is pretty impressive close up and boasts intriguing statistics, below are some answers to some of the most commonly asked questions and interesting facts about the Great Barrier Reef.
- Fact: The Great Barrier Reef is a popular tourist destination with over two million visitors each year. Tourism to the reef generates approximately AU$6 billion per year to the Australian economy and over 60,000 full-time jobs.
- Fact: The Great Barrier Reef is a great holiday destination for families and kids, attracting millions of visitors each year who come to enjoy its natural beauty in and out of the water.
How big is the Great Barrier Reef?
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system and is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs.
- Area: 348,700 km² (133,000 sq miles) or 34,870,000 ha
- Width: The reef ranges between 60 and 250 kilometres in width
- Length: The reef stretches over 2,300 kilometres from the northern tip of Queensland to just north of Bundaberg
- Depth: The has an average depth of 35 metres in waters close to shore, while on outer reefs, continental slopes extend down to depths of more than 2000 metres
- The Great Barrier Reef has around 3000 coral reefs and over 900 islands (made up of around 600 continental islands and 300 coral cays)
The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world’s largest single structure made by living organisms.
Read more: How big is the Great Barrier Reef?
Yep, It’s big. How big?
Ever wondered how big the Great Barrier Reef actually is?
- The Great Barrier Reef is greater in size than Tasmania and Victoria combined.
- The Great Barrier Reef is greater in size than the United Kingdom, Holland and Switzerland combined.
- The Great Barrier Reef is approximately the same area as Italy, Germany, Malaysia or Japan.
- The Great Barrier Reef is roughly half the size of Texas.
How many species live on the Great Barrier Reef?
- Fact: Thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded in the Great Barrier Reef.
- Fact: Six species of sea turtles come to the reef to breed.
- Fact: 215 species of birds (including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds) visit the reef or nest or roost on the islands.
- Fact: Seventeen species of sea snake live on the Great Barrier Reef.
- Fact: More than 1,500 fish species live on the reef.
- Fact: Around 10 percent of the world’s total fish species can be found just within the Great Barrier Reef.
- Fact: There are at least 330 species of ascidians on the reef system.
Learn more about the Great Barrier Reef.
Some big facts about the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is an extremely ancient, enormous host of living things, composed of living coral growing on dead coral dating back perhaps as much as twenty million years.
Learn more about the History of the Great Barrier Reef.
What threatens the Great Barrier Reef?
- Fact: Climate change is perhaps the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef.
- Fact: Warmer ocean temperatures put stress on coral and lead to coral bleaching.
- Fact: The Great Barrier Reef has experienced several mass coral bleaching events in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2016, 2017 and 2020. Bleaching is expected to become an annual occurance, when aerial surveys showed that over 50% of reefs experienced some coral bleaching.
- Fact: Sediment, nutrient and agriculture pesticide pollution from river catchment run-off is also affecting the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
- Fact: Too much or poorly managed tourism could be a risk to the reef, fortunately tourism on the reef is very well managed at the moment.
Where should I stay?
There are many great places to stay on the Great Barrier Reef, with a variety of experiences waiting for you. You could stay on an island, be it a resort like Hamilton Island, or something more isolated and remote such as Haggerstone Island.
There is also a multitude of resorts and hotels in the cities and towns along the coast of the Great Barrier reef, catering to all types of visitors.
When is the best time to go?
The Great Barrier Reef is beautiful all year round. The stinger season is from around November to May. During this time you need to swim inside the stinger enclosures at the beaches or wear a stinger suit.