Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Facts

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Great Barrier Reef Marine Parks Facts by Nath J 

Understanding the Great Barrier Reef’s Ecosystem

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, comprising about 10% of the world’s coral reef ecosystems, is a marvel in biodiversity. It spans over 14 degrees of latitude, offering a unique blend of ecological communities. The Reef’s complexity is unparalleled, from shallow estuarine areas to deep oceanic waters. The world’s largest coral reef ecosystem includes 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, and around 150 inshore mangrove islands, making it a hotspot for marine life and biodiversity studies.

The Great Barrier Reef is estimated to be around 600,000 years old, making it relatively young in geological terms. It formed during the last ice age when sea levels rose, creating the intricate structure we see today.

Ecological Significance

  • The Great Barrier Reef constitutes about 10% of the world’s coral reef ecosystems.
  • It extends over 14 degrees of latitude, from shallow estuarine areas to deep oceanic waters.
  • The Reef covers 344,400 square kilometres, making it the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem.


  • The ecosystem includes about 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays, and 150 inshore mangrove islands.
  • It is home to 450 types of hard corals, over 1,000 soft corals, more than 100 species of jellyfish, over 6,000 varieties of molluscs, and more than 1,000 worms.
  • 1625 types of fish inhabit it, 14 types of sea snakes, six species of marine turtles, 20 nesting species of seabirds, 41 species of shorebirds, over 1,300 species of crustaceans, 630 species of echinoderms, at least 2,500 species of sponges, 136 varieties of sharks and rays, and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins. 
  • Coral reefs only comprise about 7% of the Marine Park and World Heritage Area.

Cultural and Historical Importance

  • It is home to more than 70 Traditional Owner groups, with connections dating back over 60,000 years.

Economic Impact

  • The Great Barrier Reef contributes more than $6.4 billion annually to the Australian economy.
  • Supports around 64,000 jobs.

Conservation and Management

  • The Reef is a Marine Park and a World Heritage Area.
  • Established in 1975 through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act.
  • The Marine Park is more significant than Victoria and Tasmania combined and is roughly the same area as Japan, Malaysia, or Italy.

Comparative Size

  • Larger than the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Holland combined.
  • It is approximately half the size of Texas and slightly smaller than the entire Baltic Sea.
  • It would fit into Hudson Bay 3.6 times and cover 67% of the coastline of France.
  • It could be laid down 1.4 times North to South within India.
  • South Korea would fit inside the Marine Park 1.54 times.
  • Mount Fuji could be stacked end-to-end 609 times along the length of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • New Zealand would fit the Marine Park 1.3 times.
  • It extends approximately 2,300 kilometres along the coast of Queensland in north-eastern Australia, about the same length as the west coast of the USA from Vancouver to the Mexican border.

Global Comparison

  • The Belize Reef off the Caribbean coast of Belize is the second longest barrier reef in the world at 290 kilometres. Ningaloo Reef off the West Australian coast is 280 kilometres long.

How To Experience the Great Barrier Reef (Tour Options)

Whether it’s a serene snorkel tour or an adventurous scuba diving experience, the Great Barrier Reef offers a range of activities for all ages and preferences. Options like an Outer Barrier Reef Cruise or a Great Barrier Reef  Fixed Wing Flight are both operated out of Airlie Beach and Cairns, which are the 2 main locations to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

Educational and Conservation Efforts

Participating in a ‘Marine Biology Day’ or ‘Be a Marine Biologist for a Day’ program can be enlightening. These experiences, combined with efforts from organizations like Great Barrier Reef Foundation, highlight the ongoing conservation work and the need to protect this precious ecosystem.


Is the Great Barrier Reef the largest coral reef system in the world?

Yes, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, stretching over 2,300 kilometres.

Does the Great Barrier Reef support a diverse range of marine life?

Yes, the reef is home to a wide variety of species, including fish, turtles, and sharks.

Is the Great Barrier Reef visible from outer space?

Yes, Nasa statesReefs are easy to spot from space because the iridescent blues of shallow lagoons contrast sharply with the dark blues of deep water.”

Is the Great Barrier Reef in danger due to climate change?

Yes, climate change poses a significant threat to the Great Barrier Reef, causing coral bleaching and other detrimental effects.

Can visitors engage in snorkelling and diving activities at the Great Barrier Reef?

Yes, the reef offers opportunities for snorkeling and diving, allowing visitors to experience its stunning marine life up close.



Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GRMPA)   Reef Facts Webpage published August 2022

Nath J

Nath J

Hi, I’m Nath J, your go-to expert for everything Whitsundays Tourism. Since 2001, I’ve been immersed in this incredible destination, accumulating 22 years of industry experience. My journey has taken me from Operations Manager at Tallarook Sail and Dive to running my own businesses like Ripple Effect Online. I’ve given workshops on direct tourism bookings and even authored an ebook, Whitsunday Islands: A Journey through Paradise.

Why trust me? I hold certifications like “Whitsundays Tourism Hero” and “Respecting First Nations Cultural Protocols in Australia,” both issued by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council. My work has garnered testimonials from tourism business around the region, praising my unique, genuine approach to tourism marketing.

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