The fish of the Great Barrier Reef represent every color of the rainbow; since there's more than 4,000 different species swimming off the waters of the Queensland coast, there's plenty of variety beneath the surface. And fish are just the beginning of what you'll see at the Great Barrier Reef. This living natural marine marvel, whose structure is formed by a rainbow of corals, also provides a home for sharks, manatees, seabirds, and tiny creatures not seen beyond these waters—all members of the Great Barrier Reef food web.
Many of the interesting Great Barrier Reef facts involve the marine life. Scientists and experts estimate that nearly eight out of the the ten Great Barrier Reef animals are only found in these Australian waters. Endangered species, including the green sea turtle and sea cows, also called dugongs, make a home here. Other Great Barrier Reef animals pass through the waters on their way from Asia or Antarctica., including humpback whales. The warmer tropical waters attract these spectacular animals between May and September who come to give birth or build up strength for their time in the colder climates. Dwarf minke whales, much smaller than their humpbacked cousins, are most common in June and July. Great Barrier Reef diving adventures also give you the chance to see various species of dolphins and killer whales swimming among the Great Barrier Reef plants.
While whales and other large marine mammals sit at the top of the Great Barrier Reef food chain, they're not the only creatures that command attention. Many species of sharks in the Great Barrier Reef swim in these waters. Great whites are the most commonly known—even though attacks on people are extremely rare. There are more than 130 species of sharks and rays here. The gray nurse sharks swimming among the Great Barrier Reef plants have been listed as endangered, while great whites and whale sharks are threatened species. If you're really interested in seeing the various sharks up close, choose one of the Great Barrier Reef cruises with a trained naturalist on board. Someone who knows these waters well can take you to the best places to see sharks up close, but at a safe distance.
Sharks are just the beginning of what you'll see with an up-close look at the what's swimming among the Great Barrier Reef plants. Thousands of species of fish, turtles, and other interesting denizens of the deep live here, too. Beneath the clear waters, the world of Great Barrier Reef fish is as colorful as anything you'll ever see. It doesn't take a lot of time or energy to see this world. All you have to do is strap on a snorkel. As long as you can swim and you have a mask, you'll have the chance to enjoy some Great Barrier Reef snorkeling.
The vast array of natural wonders that lie deep beneath the surface are worth exploring. No matter what you decide to pack into a Great Barrier Reef vacation, you should plan to spend some time off the shores of the mainland. The fish of the Great Barrier Reef, along with the sharks, and corals, look like nothing you'll find on the surface.