economic, social and icon asset value


contributed to the Australian economy annually


jobs supported


visitors every year

The Great Barrier Reef is an Australian icon, treasured world-wide.

"It is one of the greatest, and most splendid natural treasures that the world possesses."

Sir David Attenborough

Why the Great Barrier Reef is so amazing

  • One of the 7 natural wonders of the world.
  • Largest living structure on the planet, so big it’s visible from space.
  • World’s largest coral reef stretching 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coastline and covering an area of 344,400 square-kilometres. 
  • The size of about 70 million football fields or the size of Japan or Italy. It eclipses the world number two, the Caribbean’s Belize Reef, which is a mere 290 km long.
  • World Heritage Listed in October 1981.
  • World Heritage Listed area spans 348,000 km2, which is slightly more than the 344,400 km2 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park area because it also includes some 980 islands, internal waters, intertidal areas and other state waters.
  • 7% of the World Heritage area is made up of coral reefs. The rest is an extraordinary variety of marine habitats, ranging from shallow inshore areas – such as seagrass, mangroves, sand, algal and sponge gardens, and inter-reefal communities – to deep oceanic areas more than 250 km offshore.
  • Inshore waters average a depth of around 35 metres while on outer reefs the plunge is more than 2,000 metres.
  • November, spawning season, is when the corals get busy reproducing. Resembling an underwater snowstorm, the exact timing of the annual spawning release is linked to water temperature and phases of the moon.
  • 1975 is the year the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was created.

Reef habitats




continental islands


coral cays


inshore mangrove islands

Google Street View

In 2012, Google launched the very first underwater Street View on the Great Barrier Reef. Take a look behind the scenes

See more Great Barrier Reef Street View.

Reef residents


species of fish – 10% of the world’s fish species


types of hard and soft corals


species of birds


varieties of sharks and rays


species of whales and dolphins


species of sea snakes

6 of 7

of the world's species of marine turtle