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Great Barrier Reef

Source: Tom Jutte

About: Great Barrier Reef, located in  Queensland, boasts of being one of the most attractive tourist destinations of Australia. Its awe-inspiring and breathtaking beauty captivates the tourists from all around the world. The beautiful beaches and the abundance of marine life are few of the features of this exotic tourist destination. It comprises of individual reef systems, coral cays and variety of marine species stretching for over 2,300 km / 1,400 mi over an area of approximately 344,400 sq km / 133,000 sq mi.

Achievement: The Great Barrier Reef is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage, selected in 1981, boasts of being larger than the Great Wall of China. It is also among one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and the only structure made by living organisms on earth which can be viewed from space.

Wild Species: Great Barrier Reef is one of the most complex ecosystems, which consists of over 3,000 coral reef systems, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays, and thousands of marine species. The few important and noticeable species include fish, corals, whales, echinoderms, mollusks, sponges, sea snakes, turtles, shorebirds, seabirds, and dolphins.

Tourism: Until 1990s, most of the tourism for the reef was generated domestically which slowly and gradually changed to an international destination. As per the records provided by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the reef attracted more than 64,000 tourists in 2013 contributing AUD $ 6.4 billion.

Activities: The reef has been named as state icon of Queensland by the Queensland National Trust. The activities which are available to the tourists include snorkeling & scuba diving, boat tours, aircraft / helicopter tours, cruise ship tours, whale and dolphin watching.

Threat to the Reef: As per the report of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, there is a great danger to the existence of Great Barrier Reef. The report states that climate change is the most significant environmental threat to the Great Barrier Reef, while the other major environmental threats are decreased water quality from land-based runoff, impacts due to fishing activities and other human activities, storms, coral bleaching and ocean acidification.

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