Location: The Great Barrier Reef is a site of remarkable variety and beauty on the north-east coast of Australia, off the east coast of the Queensland mainland
It contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc. It also holds great scientific interest as the habitat of species such as the dugong (‘sea cow’) and the large green turtle, which are threatened with extinction.
History: The history of the Great Barrier Reef in its present form is widely accepted to have started between 6000 and 8000 years ago, during the final centuries of the last ice age.
From May to August 1770, when the Endeavour under James Cook sailed the length of the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the voyage was made well inshore, probably seeing little of the Reef. However on 11 June, Cook's party became intimately acquainted with it when they struck Endeavour Reef, north of Cape Tribulation, and were forced to spend six weeks repairing the ship on shore at the site of modern Cooktown.
Stories: In 2008, Marine Biologists discover over 100 new ocean species in coral reefs off Western Australia during a global census of marine life. They include exotic soft corals, new kinds of jellyfish, rays and shellfish, and parasites that feed on the tongues of fish. The discoveries are just a fraction of the new species being identified globally