By Jessica Russo
Australia's Great Barrier Reef is hands down one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. With tons of ways to explore - helicopter rides, catamaran cruises, snorkeling, or diving, this kaleidoscope of colorful coral should be high up on your bucket list. Need a little more convincing? Enjoy these 10 fun facts about this dazzling sea spectacle!
1. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space.
In fact, it's the only natural structure visible from the moon!
2. It's a Wonder of the World
Along with Mount Everest and the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. This list is comprised of the world's most astonishing natural attractions!
3. Over 1,500 different species of fish live in the Great Barrier Reef!
Of course you'll find tons of "Nemos" (or clown fish), but you'll also find colorful butterfly fish, angelfish, surgeonfish, parrotfish, and many other eye-catching species. Aside from these gentle swimmers, you'll also find over 160 species of sharks!
4. The Great Barrier Reef is home to fascinating mammals and reptiles, too.
Be on the lookout for whales, dolphins, dugong, and sea turtles! Keep in mind, July to September is humpback whale season, and January to March is turtle-hatching season. No matter when you visit the GBR, you'll surely see something spectacular.
5. Corals are animals
Even though corals are sessile, meaning they root themselves into the ocean floor, they are not plants - they are animals! What!? How? Well, corals are animals because they do not make their own food. They have little tentacle-like arms that they use to capture food from the water!
6. The Great Barrier reef is the world's largest living organism.
Stretching over 1,240 miles, this collection of coral reefs, cays, plants, and animals is one giant living, breathing thing. No wonder it's one of the most biodiverse places in the world!
7. It's composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
Now that's a bucket list challenge.
8. The Great Barrier Reef is the size of about 70 million football fields.
Okay, let's put that into perspective - that's the same size as Italy, Germany, or Japan! Covering 133,000 square miles, The Great Barrier Reef is larger than the UK, Holland, and Switzerland... combined!
9. It's illegal to remove any coral from the reef
The "look, but don't touch" rule applies for the Great Barrier Reef. Sure, coral from the GBR sounds like an awesome souvenir, but think about the environmental (and legal) repercussions. C'mon, don't be that guy.
10. The Great Barrier Reef was discovered in 1770
English explorer and naval officer Captain James Cook sailed the length of the Great Barrier Reef until they struck Endeavor Reef... and spent six weeks repairing the ship on shore of modern Cooktown!