The Great Barrier Reef Library

A comprehensive guide to The Great Barrier Reef


By on November 10, 2017

About The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is a magnificent place. It is the largest living structure on Earth, as well as one of the most diverse habitats, home to a multitude of marine life.  It stretches from the far northern tip of Australia, down to the Bundaberg area in South-East Queensland.  That makes it over 2,300km long, 250km wide at its widest point and 60km wide at its narrowest.  It is 344,400km2, which is a lot of large numbers, so that is basically the same size as Italy, Germany, Japan, bigger than the UK, or approximately half the size of Texas – hopefully that makes more sense, depending on where you are from

Place Size (km2)
The Great Barrier Reef 344,400
Italy 301,338
Germany 357,376
Japan 377,962
Texas 695,662

With that being said, it is important to note that The Great Barrier Reef is not one long, continuous reef.  The GBR is made up of about 2,900 individual reefs, many of which do not even have names. There are also 600 continental islands on The Great Barrier Reef and 300 coral islands.

Many thousands of different species call The Great Barrier Reef their home, including more than:

  • 3,000 species of molluscs (octopus, clams and slugs)
  • 1,300 species of crustaceans (crabs and shrimps)
  • 1,625 species of fish
  • 950 species of bryozoans (teeny tiny animals)
  • 720 species of ascidians (simple animals that filter water)
  • 630 species of echinoderms (animals like the starfish and sea cucumbers)
  • 600 species of hard and soft corals
  • 500 species of worms
  • 215 species of birds
  • 163 species of sharks and rays
  • 33 species of whales and dolphins
  • 16 species of sea snakes
  • 15 species of sea grass
  • 6 species of turtles
  • 5 species of spiders1


About Me

I  have spent a number of years working on The Great Barrier Reef, in which time I have noticed a distinct lack of information about this subject. Sure, there are the common facts recited by most websites and dive instructors, but my curious mind always wants to know more. Therefore, I aim to bridge the gap between scientists and the general public, by creating a site that contains everything we know about The Great Barrier Reef and displaying it in a way that is simple to understand and yet maintains its scientific integrity. This is a large project that will take many years to complete, so if you see a gap, something that you would like to know more about and it is not currently included in The Great Barrier Reef Library, please let us know and we will try to prioritise that piece of the puzzle. Similarly, if you find anything that you do not believe is correct and wish to challenge, please let us know, so that we can double check it, come up with the facts, or make amendments as necessary.

Key Goals:

  • Bridge the gap between scientists and the general public
  • Create a timeline detailing the major events of The Great Barrier Reef, from its creation, to its discovery by man and every major scientific discovery along the way, including traumatic events
  • Create a Tree of Life that will contain all the information that we know about every single creature that can be found on The Great Barrier Reef (we know that this is a massive task so please be patient as we continually add to this section!)
  • Identify some of the key things that are threatening The Great Barrier Reef, along with actions that you can take to help preserve the wonder
  • Create a visual library of images and videos that will complement the information to increase your understanding of how we know what we know