Winter in Tropical Paradise just off Port Douglas means nice warm days and a little cooler in the evening. Perfect for a day out on the reef. Visitors to the Great Barrier Reef can get a grasp on the vastness of this World Heritage Site. It is enormous, 348,000 square kilometers and follows the East Coast of Australia for about 2,300km.
While going to the reef, instructions will be given for snorkellers, divers and a reef brief during the day will explain what kind of structure the Reef really is.
Only mid 18th century did we discover that corals are actually animals, not plants. It is a mind boggling realisation that not all animals need to have eyes and ears.
Corals are colonies of tiny animals called polyps. Hard corals and soft corals are part of the most diverse and complicated ecosystems of our planet. Hard corals are the builders of the reef, soft corals give hard corals some protection with their spiky, leathery and/or spotty texture that the predators do not trust.
The Great Barrier Reef is not only corals of course, in previous months we have talked about other creatures that live in this beautiful underwater treasure, and next months we will do the same. But it is all part of a fragile system that needs protecting and with the help of the Australian Government's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (1975) and the recognition that it is a World Heritage Site in 1981, the aim is to protect and conserve these areas for all time.
PS: Yes the whales are still around (see report june 2010)