Julian Bradder 15 articles
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It's big. It's living. It can be seen from outer space

  • Posted by Julian Bradder
  • July 7, 2011 11:39 PM AEST

No, I'm not boasting. I'm talking about the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Stretching over 2000km's, the reef protects the Whitsunday Islands from Ocean Swells to create a tropical paradise perfect for diving, sailing and other aquatic activities. The reef makes life possible and the waters in the area incredibly safe.


The reef is made up of over 2,900 reefs, 940 islands and cays. For the British reading this article to gain an appreciation of the scale of the place, try to imagine a tropical paradise whose scale is larger than that of the geography of the UK and Ireland.


There are over 1,500 species of fish living within the reef, 360 coral types, 175 bird species, six out of seven of the world's turtle populations. The list is staggering. It would be fair to say that you haven't visited Australia until you have visited this fabulous area.


Activites abound with the opportunity to fish, snorkel, sail and dive together with exciting night life areas.


As one of the world's most ecologically sensitive areas, there is a concerted effort to protect the area. Creating a sustainable economic and environmental future is at the top of the agenda for those who manage and who are concerned with the area. Many think that the way the area is used is putting too much pressure on the area. There are numerous initiatives under way to look after the reefs, the fauna and the creatures who live within the reefs.


"Whale Aware" is one such programme. Humpback whales reach the reef for breeding season around May through to September every year. People flock to see the whales during this period, but there are laws about whale watching, not least that vessels observing whales should stay at least 100 metres away from the whales and 300 metres away from the Whitsunday whale protection areas. No more than three vessels should ever be close to the whales.


Despite most of us being aware of the sensitivities of the reef, still too many divers and snorkellers touch and brush the coral. This is not permitted. It takes an extremely long time for coral to grow, one brush from a diver can destroy that growth.


You should enjoy the Whitsundays but please take the care to educate yourself with regard to the do's and don'ts for the area. It is a privilige to vist the area and so it should remain for generations to come.