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World's Best Marine Animal Encounters

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems in the world. It has a stunning array of marine-life that can be found nowhere else on the planet. There are 2900 separate coral reefs stretching for over 1400 miles along the Queensland coast, making it the largest living organism in the world.  

Some of the rarest and most spectacular life in the ocean call the Great Barrier Reef home. This stunning underwater wonderland is home to over 300 types of hard and soft coral, 1500 species of fish and six of the world's seven marine turtles. Every year migrating Humpback and Minke Whales visit our waters with over 3,000 individuals coming to soak up the sunshine and warm water.

Below is just a selection of some of the Great Barrier Reef's most iconic marine characters. How many have you ticked off your list so far?

clown fish Clown Fish

Clownfish have a lot to live up to! After their leading role in the movie “Nemo” they’ve become one of the icons of the Great Barrier Reef and are a common colorful sight. They live within the venomous tentacles of anemones hiding away from any potential predators, but always put on a playful show for snorkelers and divers.

giant clam Giant Clams

The Daddy of all Molluscs, yes; but man-eaters? Hardly! History told of unfortunate sailors swallowed by these huge molluscs that grow up to 5 feet in length and can weigh up to 550lbs. Today we know they just eat algae and photosynthesize. Crusty on the outside, soft and colourful on the inside, these Big Boys are found everywhere on the Great Barrier Reef.

manta ray Manta Ray

With a wingspan of up to 23 feet, it’s little wonder this is the largest of all the rays. Graceful and agile but powerful and magnificent. They can appear out of nowhere gliding past like a huge space-ship with Remoras (or Sucker Fish) attached underneath as their wingmen. Lady Elliot Island on the Southern Great Barrier Reef is one of THE hot spots for Manta Rays when during the winter months up to 350 individuals visit the island.

maori wrasse Maori Wrasse

The striking bright green-blue of the Maori Wrasse is like the reef itself, even its markings look like ripples of sand on a sea bed. These are truly happy-go-lucky creatures. They love to play and nuzzle up for a cuddle and will happily follow you like a faithful friend. You’ll find them throughout the Great Barrier Reef but especially where us humans hang out; the reef pontoons, round the Whitsunday Islands and popular snorkel and dive sites.

potato cod Potato Cod

The Potato Cod meanders along, gentle and unhurried. Its large silver body is magnificently marked with dark colored streaks and spots. Cod love it when people drop in, always taking the time to say hello and hang out for a while. They come right up close, their wide mouths constantly opening and closing as if they were trying to have a chat. Friendly and laid back like a good Queenslander should be! 

sharks Sharks

Ask any diver what they want to see whilst they’re underwater and they’re bound to answer “shark!”. Their sleek, great bodies glide effortlessly through the water. Majestic, powerful and watchful, the sharks of the Great Barrier Reef are usually spotted alone, cruising the warm waters of their favorite feeding grounds. Among the most common are white, black or silver tip reef sharks.

turtles Turtles

With six of the world’s seven turtle species making their home on the Great Barrier Reef it’s not hard to run into one! Slow and awkward on land, turtles show nothing but grace and speed in the water and though they hunt alone, instinct will drive them together each year for mating in the shallows and nesting on the shore. When you swim with one underwater for the first time and it looks you in the eye you can't help but crack a smile...

whales Whales

The Great Barrier Reef is the ultimate nursery playground for Humpback Whales and their calves. Each year from June to September you can watch them effortlessly hurl their huge weight into the air right along the Great Barrier Reef from Lady Elliot Island up to Cairns. Their smaller cousins, the Dwarf Minke Whales, pass through the Tropical North at the same time each year.

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Queensland Australia