Scuba Diving On The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef has long held and almost mythical status amongst scuba divers, keen to sample the diving on the worlds largest living organism. In this article, we take a closer look at the diving on the Great Barrier, to see if it is deserving of its status as one of the worlds best diving destinations.
Larger than the whole of Great Britain, and comprising of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 separate islands, the Great Barrier Reef is not only the worlds largest organism, it is one of the worlds best scuba diving destinations.
For the sheer diversity of marine life, the Great Barrier Reef is unrivalled. Alive with over 2,000 separate species of fish, as well as 400 separate species of coral, the Great Barrier Reef ensures that every dive is an adventure and that no two dives are the same. Described as one of the natural wonders of the world, and now protected under its status as a World Heritage site, the Great Barrier Reef has long captivated the imagination of scuba divers from all over the world.
The jump off point for scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef is the city of Cairns in Queensland. Once a laid back coastal town, today Cairns is one of Australia’s premier tourist destinations, complete with a large number of dive centres and liveaboard operators. Every day, large numbers of scuba divers travel here to sample the underwater splendour that is the Great Barrier Reef. The scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef is itself split into four key areas, which are home to the vast majority of the dive sites on the reef. Though these regions are spread out over a large geographical spread, diving can be arranged across all via day trips or liveaboards from Cairns.
The Inner Reef Gardens, as their name suggests are located in close proximity with the Queensland coastline. Easily accessible by day boats from Cairns, the shallow and somewhat sheltered nature of the sites here mean that the Inner Garden Reefs are popular areas for diver training and diving courses.
Slightly further offshore lie the aptly named Outer Reefs, characterised by the large series of canyons and gorges that can be found throughout the reefs here. There are a large number of smaller reefs here including Thetford Reef, Paradise Reef and Agincourt Reef, and throughout all of the sites there is prolific marine life, including one of the largest colonies of clownfish you are ever likely to see!
The Far Northern Reefs include the famous Ribbon Reef system, a strong of ten coral reefs which stretch over 100 miles to the north of Cairns. At the top of this remarkable reef system lies the most famous dive site on the Great Barrier Reef, the Cod Hole. Here a large family of resident Potato Cod will amaze you with their friendly antics as well as their sheer size. Due to their more remote location, the dive sites of the Far Northern Reefs are usually taken in on one of the many three day liveaboard trips that operate out of Cairns.
For more experienced divers, the dive sites of the Coral Seas prove a huge attraction. Located around 200 kilometres offshore, the Coral Sea is considered to be one of Australia’s best dive sites. Throughout the year, large numbers of liveaboards travel here from Cairns to sample the superb diving that can be found at dives sites such as Osprey Reef and Bougainville Reef.
Overall, the Great Barrier Reef is fully deserving of its legendary status as one of the worlds best diving locations. The range and diversity of marine and coral life is barely rivalled anywhere else on earth. Thankfully, the considerable conservation efforts of the authorities will ensure that this natural wonder is experienced by many generations to come.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Burns is Director of Scubaworld.tv, a large scuba diving holidays website, and a comprehensive source of information on scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.