As the world's largest single structure made by living organisms, it is actually possible to see Australia's Great Barrier Reef from outer space. Composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi), the reef is a truly breathtaking structure to which every green traveler should make the pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime.
As ecotourism goes, the Great Barrier Reef is of most interest as a giant harbour of most stunning, varied, and indeed delicate wildlife. The Reef's impressive coral gardens reveals many astounding underwater attractions including the world's largest collection of corals (in fact, more than 400 different kinds of coral), coral sponges, molluscs, rays, dolphins, over 1500 species of tropical fish, more than 200 types of birds, around 20 types of reptiles including sea turtles and giant clams over 120 years old.
Being one of the world's greatest natural treasures, a lot has been put in place to ensure tourism is eco friendly, so look out for the Ecotourism Australia logo wherever you go. Highly recommended for tours, accommodation, cruises and all kinds of activities, including snorkelling and scuba diving is Quicksilver Cruises, who are Eco Certified and boast Advanced Ecotourism certification.
Another equally reputed and certified company is Great Adventures, who offer Green Island cruises and tours through the inland rainforests as part of their package adventures.
A third is found on Heron Island, famous around the world for its spectacular coral reef, extraordinary variety of aquatic life, migrating whales, nesting turtles and as a breeding ground for an abundance of birdlife. The Heron Island Resort is Great Barrier Reef ecotourism at its best, which is no doubt why it has been awarded an Advanced Eco-Certification by Ecotourism Australia.
In fact, ecotourism is so prevalent around the Great Barrier Reef, and taken so seriously by locals, that the ecotourist will find themselves surrounded by a hub of green adventures. What is more, the maintenance and protection of the reef is largely funded by the tourist industry, so you will be doing your bit to help preserve what surely is one of the most impressive Wonders of the Natural World.
phot By ippei + janine