The GBR is the world’s greatest reef system, stretching more than 2000 km along Queensland’s north-east coast. As the world’s largest and most complex reef system, it has thousands of individual coral reefs and hundreds of continental islands, reef islands and cays, small bare sand cays, and permanent vegetated cays.Exploring the Great Barrier Reef is both exhilarating and easy. You can snorkel or scuba dive with equipment provided and a trained crew on hand to assist, or view the reef from the comfort of a semi-submersible or underwater observatory. Swimmers and non-swimmers are catered for or take a scenic flight in a plane or helicopter. There is easy access to the outer reef and islands from points all along the coast, to suit your style or budget. Relax and enjoy Cairns & Great Barrier Reef Region.
The Great Barrier Reef has captured man’s imagination since its first discovery.All islands and cays have been discovered and set foot upon, but underwater there’s a land so vast that in 10,000 years it still will not be completely explored. To scuba divers, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef represents some of the finest and most diverse diving and snorkeling in the world. The Great Barrier Reef is a massive chain of coral reefs and beyond this structure of living organisms lays the cleanest body of water on the globe. It is a wonderful, exciting and indeed memorable experience to dive the Great Barrier Reef. Explore tunnels and caves, and bask in the sun between dives on the deck of a boat or sun drenched beach or cay.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is absolutely enormous in size! It is so big it’s the only living structure you can see from the moon with the naked eye. In area it is bigger than Ireland and Great Britain put together. But it’s not just one reef – The Great Barrier Reef is made up of thousands of different reefs. Some of the reefs are, on their own, enormous in size being many kilometres long.
Each reef is separated by a huge vivid blue sea. The vivid blue colour of its water comes from the fact that there are no particles floating around in it. These seas are relatively lifeless, but the reef itself is an oasis of life in an otherwise marine desert. The Great Barrier Reef has the highest diversity of life of any of the reef systems in the world. With its 1,600 different species of fish, 6000 species of crustaceans, 4000 species of molluscs, turtles, whales and dolphins, the reefs are a kaleidoscope of animal colour and shape. The colours are mind blowing, and why so many of them?
Generally the red and yellow colours are warning colours – just like we use them. Take the firelion, a fish that glows bright red and white like a fire, saying, “if you touch me I’ll poison you!” Little brightly coloured slugs called nudibranchs (in Latin this translates as ‘naked gilled’), contrast their red and yellow colours with black and white to let fish know they are nasty tasting. Flatworms do the same, and when they swim like magic carpets the sight is just titillating (in English this translates as oooohoohooh!!!). The cleaner shrimps eat mucus parasites dead flesh off fish bodies and mark their cleaning stations like we do barber shops, with red and white stripes. The coral’s colours are equally unbelievable in their variation. But the makeup of the coral animal is even more incredible. It is an animal, mineral and vegetable all in one.
The Reef experience is also seasonal. October, November and December are the sexy months when the animals are preparing for and getting involved in reproductive activity. January to May is kindergarten recruitment time when the babies born elsewhere invade the reef and large mid-oceanic fish charge in and out preying on these juvenile delicacies.
June to September is our Whaling season. Most people think that the whales come up to Cairns to breed, but they do that 2000 kilometres south of here, near Brisbane. The main reason they come up to Cairns is to get a manicure. Barnacles and other animals are growing on their bodies die and fall off in the balmy warmer waters of Cairns. Then these whales do a U turn and head all the way back down to Antarctica where they spend the next nine months building up the energy for next year’s holiday to Cairns.
The benefits of visiting the reefs from Cairns, besides the variety of boats available at very reasonable prices, are the proximity of the outer reefs to shore, the fact that there are so many coral islands as well as continental islands, drop offs and drift dive sites to name a few. The dive shops are highly professional and have magnificent safety records, as does the dive industry as a whole. Reef Teach is a live presentation about the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. It will have you massively excited about your adventure to come, and you will be more informed and knowledgeable about your Great Barrier Reef experience.