The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef stretching over 1,600 miles (2,600 km) long. It is made up of approximately 3,000 individual reef systems and 900 islands. It takes up approximately 133,000 square miles (344,400 sq km) and is so large that it can be seen from space. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and is the only living thing that can be viewed from space. It was selected as a World Heritage site in 1981 and is protected by strict marine restriction zones. It is recognized as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is a popular tourist destination and it alone generates over $1 billion dollars per year for the local economy.
The Location of the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is located off the coast of Northern Queensland, Australia. It stretches from the tip of Cape York to the area adjacent to the town of Bundaberg. It is this reef that Captain Cook, one of the first explorers to reach Australia, ran his ship, the HMAS Endeavour, aground on. He had to pull into a safe area, which is now known as Cooktown, to repair its hull. It is as close as 15 kilometers from the coast of Queensland and at its maximum distance is 150 kilometers offshore. Some parts of the reef are an amazing 65 kilometers wide. It is home to many amazing and unique marine species and many beautiful types of coral. Many of the towns along the coast of Queensland offer excellent opportunities to explore this natural wonder. There are also many beautiful islands where you can stay and enjoy the majesty of the reef.