The Great Barrier Reef: A Colorful Underwater Landscape

Colorful underwater world of corals and tropical fish.
Shark silhouettes against blue sunlight at the Great Barrier Reef.
Scuba diver at the Great Barrier Reef.
Map of Australia, with the Great Barrier Reef located off the northeast coast.
School of sweetlips at the Great Barrier Reef.
An aerial view of a part of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef, located off Australia’s northeast coast, is one of the world’s true oceanic wonders. Characterized by a colorful seabed, this reef is 2300 kilometers long and host to such a multitude of marine life that the Australian authorities barely allow boats to go over it. However, to the satisfaction of nature lovers, people are allowed to scuba dive and experience the fascinating subaquatic landscape in certain locations.

Three thousand individual reefs

While scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, or while otherwise analyzing various parts of it, one is not necessarily exploring one and the same reef. This is because, though referred to in the singular form, the Great Barrier Reef is really made up of about three thousand individual underwater reefs located closely together. Each of these individual reefs’ ecosystems is unique, meaning that the creatures living there may vary, but the foundational piece for all of them is corals.

Sea creatures wanting to eat

Corals, the Great Barrier Reef’s corner stone, are colorful plant-like creatures growing on the ocean floor. Importantly, the coral thickets form tunnels and caves where crabs and small fish go to feed and to seek shelter from medium-sized fish and squids. Knowing that smaller animal species hide in the coral maze, medium-sized species eagerly circle the reefs, looking for a meal, and through their presence attract sharks and other large predators. Now, due to the simple desire to eat, species from all levels of the food chain are gathered in the same place, and the reef’s characteristic beautiful scenery of colorful corals and spectacular fish is created.