Further inspired by the latest series of Blue Planet II, we delve under the sea to capture a glimpse of the vibrant coral reefs…

Great Barrier Reef, Aerial View of The Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef, Aerial View of The Great Barrier Reef

The World’s Largest Living Structure

Coral reefs are diverse ecosystems held together by calcium structures secreted by corals. Remarkably, coral reefs are built by tiny animals found in marine water and are essential to our oceans’ health. Knowing your reef from your atoll, plus your barrier reef from your fringing reef, can make an underwater world of difference. Atolls are often mistaken for islands. Barrier reefs are notable for their size, like the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea Queensland, Australia. Measuring around 2,600km and visible from the moon, it is also believed to be between 5 and 10,000 years old. Such barrier reefs are found further out to sea and in deeper water — usually growing on the east shore of land masses. In order to get a closer look for yourself, why not stay at Lizard Island — Australia’s northernmost island beach resort is perfectly placed for exploring marine wonders. With an enviable position on the spectacular Great Barrier Reef, it is a remote and secluded sanctuary offering scuba-diving, snorkelling, eco-tours and watersports. For those wishing to stay on nearby Hamilton Island, qualia provides a stunning stepping-stone, located in the striking Whitsundays.

Top 5 Coral Reefs

In terms of size, the Great Barrier Reef is by far the largest on our planet and is the most visited. Second, is the Red Sea Coral Reef, at 1,900km, located near Israel, Egypt and Djibouti, another popular dive spot for the world’s scuba-diving enthusiasts. Third, is the New Caledonia Barrier Reef in the Pacific Ocean, measuring 1,500km in length. Fourth, is The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef within the Atlantic Ocean, near Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras and fifth, at approximately 200 miles long, is the Florida Reef in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, near Florida.

Key Facts About Coral Reefs:

1) Reefs act as a safe nursery for young fish and sea creatures
2) Reefs usually grow up on the east shore of land masses – connected to sunlight
3) Barrier reefs are further out to sea and in deeper waters
4) The ideal temperature for a coral reef is between 68 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit
5) Coral reefs also play an important role in helping to manage carbon monoxide levels.

Starfish in the Gulf Stream
Starfish in the Gulf Stream

Reef Talk

Far from just a safe nursey for young fish and sea creatures, coral reefs also help to improve the surrounding water quality. They act as a kind of filter that traps things floating in the water, resulting in cleaner water all around. They also play an important part in helping to manage carbon monoxide levels — a great benefit to the world’s population and health. Recently, scientists have started to harvest ingredients from coral reefs for medicinal purposes. As our planet warms, the coral reefs are experiencing catastrophic bleaching from the effects of sea-warming. This, along with acidification, over-fishing and damage from fishing trawlers is causing significant damage to these fragile ecosystems. It’s, therefore, imperative that we try to protect these ocean havens, and dependent species, by supporting the raft of eco, conservation and resident marine biologists working passionately to restore the reefs around the world.

Red Coral
Red Coral

Explore Coral Reefs For Yourself

To experience your own aqua adventure, why not hook up with world-renowned Mark Healey Water Ops in Hawaii, or to travel to the idyllic Maldives, the Bahamas, Mexico or French Polynesia to witness a spectacle of stunning atolls and reefs. Visitors to the mesmerising Maldives can stay at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giravaru, where families are welcome to visit The Marine discovery Centre and take part in the pioneering coral reefscaping, fish-breeding and turtle rehabilitation projects taking place there.

Alternatively, for those who prefer to admire marine-life from a position of luxurious comfort, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island features the world’s only all-glass undersea restaurant — Ithaa. Another option might be the stunning St. Regis Bora Bora , in French Polynesia, which features heavily on the dream honeymoon wish lists for its sheer natural beauty and South Pacific treasures.  For those wishing to enjoy a more relaxing ocean experience, why not enjoy a Silversea cruise to the Sea of Cortez? There truly is an ocean of fun to be had, plus a bounty of knowledge to catch.

Feeling Inspired?

To book your own aqua adventure and to immerse yourself in all things ocean — whether diving, ocean cruising, or snorkelling — please call our expert Travel Consultants on 01244 897 578.