The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is located in Queensland in the waterways off the northeastern coast of Australia. The park boundaries encompass an area of 132,806 square miles (343,966 sq km) which accounts for much of the barrier reef.
The Great Barrier Reef extends across a distance of 1,400 miles (2,300 km) with over 2,900 individual reefs creating the largest coral reef system in the world. This accounts for approximately 10% of the world’s coral reefs.
This complex system of reefs is the largest single structure created by living creatures and it may be seen from outer space. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Collectively, the Great Barrier Reef is comprised of deltaic reefs, ribbon reefs, lagoonal reefs, fringing reefs, and planar reefs.
The 2,900 reefs are home to an abundance and variety of marine species such as coral, bony fish, rays, sea snakes, sea turtles, sharks, and various aquatic mammals. Many of the species found in the reef are vulnerable or endangered.
There are over 1,500 species of fish, six species of turtles, 5,000 species of mollusk, nine species of seahorses, and approximately 215 species of birds. Saltwater crocodiles can be seen in the mangroves and salt marshes along the fringe of the national park. The deeper waters have minke whale, humpback whale, dolphin, and dugongs.
Great Barrier Reef Highlights:
As one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and one of the greatest marine biodiversity ecosystems in the world, exploring it is a highlight. Visitors should look to experience many of the different islands and reef areas while exploring from underwater and above in the skies.
Visitors should plan to at least snorkel along the various reefs. However, the more exhilarating experience is to scuba dive providing you with a more intimate encounter with the world’s largest reef and most diverse marine encounter.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the highlight of the park. The reality of this wonder of nature can be experienced from above in a helicopter or from under the water's surface.
The 2,900 reefs span 1,400 miles (2,300 km) to create the world's largest coral reef. The reality of this can be witnessed from a scenic flight that provides you with a bird's-eye view that showcases the extent of the endless barrier reef. However, it is imperative that you snorkel or dive to experience the astounding abundance of marine wildlife.
Trails in the Great Barrier Reef National Park
For all practical purposes, this national park is about the marine life below and along the coral reef. That said, there are places to hike.
Thorsborne Trail: This is a 19.9-mile (32 km) trek across Hinchinbrook Island. Hikers will get to experience and see nice sandy beaches, rainforests, thick mangroves, and eucalypt forests. Of course, you are along the coast where there will be plenty of opportunities to swim.
Hinchinbrook Island is the largest island among the largest barrier reef. The expedition is considered one of the most picturesque coastal walks.
Fraser Island Trail: This is an extensive trek across Fraser island often called the Fraser Island Great Walk. The trek covers a distance of 55.9 miles (90 km) and is usually done in 5 to 6 days with camping along the way.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Highlights
- Snorkeling or scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef
- Aerial views of the Great Barrier Reef
- Atlas of Marine Protection, Great Barrier Reef, http://www.mpatlas.org/mpa/sites/7700301/, retrieved September 2019.
- Australian Government, Great Barrier Marine Park Authority, http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/, retrieved September 2019.
- Australian Marine Conservation Society, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, https://www.marineconservation.org.au/great-barrier-reef-marine-park/, retrieved September 2019.
- Dive the World, About the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, https://www.dive-the-world.com/reefs-and-parks-australia-great-barrier-reef-marine-park.php, retrieved September 2019.
- Great Barrier Reefs Foundation, Reef Facts, https://www.barrierreef.org/the-reef/the-facts, retrieved September 2019.
- Inspirock, Great Barrier Reef, https://www.inspirock.com/australia/fraser-island/fraser-island-great-walk-a3571814577, retrieved June 2020.
- The Hiking Life, Great Barrier Reef, https://www.thehikinglife.com/tag/great-barrier-reef/, retrieved June 2020.
- UNESCO, Great Barrier Reef, https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/154/, retrieved September 2019.