The Great Barrier Reef is 2,300 km long and is so big that it is the only living thing on Earth visible from space. These are two pretty awesome facts already, but here are 5 more things we bet you never knew.
The Reef Is Alive
Coral polyps are tiny colonial animals and their cells contain symbiotic algae. These polyps produce calcium carbonate which expands. Marine life grabs onto the colony and the pieces grow to create the reef, which is made up entirely of living organisms.
The Reef Is Home To The World’s Most Dangerous Marine Animal
The Great Barrier Reef is home to 30 species of dolphins and whales, 1,500 species of fish and 17 different kinds of sea snake. It is also home to the most dangerous marine animal to humans, and it is not a shark or a stingray. It is in fact the box jellyfish, which has a sting that is so painful, humans die of shock or heart failure before they can make it out of the water.
The Reef Is Protected
In 1981, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A tourist tax of $6.50 is charged per person per day to help fund conservation. The reef attracts 2,000,000 visitors per year.
You Can View The Great Barrier Reef On Google Street View
When Google launched its Street View feature on maps, we all hunted down our streets and found our house. Since 2012, we have also been able to take a virtual tour through the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the perfect way to relax before bed.
There’s An Annual “Underwater Snowstorm”
Once a year, coral spawns in synchronicity. Colonies of coral polyps release billions of tiny eggs, creating an image not too dissimilar to an underwater blizzard or snowstorm. Scientists are still unsure exactly why this happens, but they can agree that it is rather spectacular.