The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world, it can be seen from space and it’s home to an incredible array of the world’s most impressive corals and marine life. If you are visiting Australia, the reef cannot be overlooked as one of the “must see” places on your list!
The Great Barrier Reef is not only home to an array of incredible marine life – it offers displays of natural phenomena which can only be seen in this area. Are you hoping to see minke whales or watch coral spawning? Or how about catching a glimpse of breaching humpback whales or spotting one of the many species of dugongs? These are just some of the unique highlights of diving in The Great Barrier Reef.
Corals and Marine Life
Have you always dreamed of exploring vibrant coral reefs and swimming through clouds of colourful fish? When you snorkel or scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, that’s exactly what you’ll experience. You’ll be immersed in an underwater world which is teeming with life and bursting with colour.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,500 species of fish, 134 species of sharks and rays, over 30 species of marine mammals and 6 out of the 7 world’s turtle species but that’s not all, the reef itself boasts a staggering 411 species of beautiful hard corals! Since being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, the Great Barrier Reef is a protected Marine Park which means that year on year it continues to thrive and flourish.
Do you know what coral spawning looks like? Have you seen it? How much do you know about the coral spawning process? When corals spawn they spew out millions of tiny cells which pour into the water column forming a thick, pink slick. This phenomenon, which happens only at night, resembles an underwater snowstorm that results in a cascade of clouds of red, yellow and orange which rise slowly to the surface where the process of fertilisation begins. It’s intriguing, beautiful and it’s one of the main highlights on the Great Barrier Reef calendar. But don’t miss out, because it only happens once a year in October or November after a full moon and rising water temperatures, and lasts for less than a week, so check with your PADI Dive Shop for the best time to visit.
Check out the spawning phenomenon in action:
Scuba Dive with Minke Whales
Explore the outer Reef and Ribbon Reefs during June and July and dive with Dwarf Minke Whales! Dwarf Minke whale encounters are regular and entirely initiated by the whales themselves. The Minke whales are an incredible highlight of Great Barrier Reef diving. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the only places on the planet where you will experience them up close and personal.
During Great Barrier Reef dives, you’ll see these majestic marine species in their natural habitat. You’ll watch them resting, schooling and going about their day to day business just as the other marine species do. If you’re lucky, you could spot any species of shark from the smaller blacktip, whitetip or grey reef shark to the larger hammerhead, tiger or oceanic whitetip shark, on just one dive. There is no need to be afraid – they are more concerned about you, than you are of them! Spend some time watching them patrol the reef and you will come to recognize their natural beauty.
There is something peaceful about seeing a turtle resting or gliding through the water. These ancient creatures have much longer life spans than humans and one has but to wonder they have seen and the wonders they have encountered over their years on the planet. On the Great Barrier Reef, you will have the chance to spot up to 6 different species of turtles including; the green sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, flatback turtle and the olive ridley turtle.
If colour, life and an abundance of activity are what you are hoping to see underwater, then you will find it in no shortage. In one dive you can spot anything from a small clownfish hiding in its anemone home, to a huge grouper or Maori Wrasse trailing behind you. If you’re lucky you can also expect to see parrotfish, sea butterflies, surgeon fish, snapper and red bass swimming around the incredible coral reef walls. Every dive site on the Great Barrier Reef is teeming with life and you’ll be mesmerized by the underwater activity surrounding you.
Like watching a spaceship coming in to land, the Great Barrier Reef is home to an abundance of rays which swim over the reef, hover over cleaning station or burrow themselves in the sand. From manta rays to stingrays you’ll be amazed as these incredible creatures pass you by.
Insider tip: Lady Elliot Island is one of the best place to scuba dive with manta rays