Great Barrier Reef Animals

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is not only home to some unique walks (or swims?) of life, it is also one of the only places on earth where you can see such an eclectic mix of aquatic (and non-aquatic) life all in one location.

With over 1500 species of fish alone – not to mention the coral, starfish, sea urchin, turtles, dugong and bird life, it’s a luxury to have such an incredible array at in the one place. Let’s introduce you to some of them.

Incredible Colours

The fish of course take centre stage, and what better reason than their dazzling colours? Up there with one of the most spectacular of the fish is the Parrot Fish.

Identifiable by the beak-like mouth that almost looks as though they’d be happy to talk to you, the Parrot Fish mouth actually has a razor-sharp set of teeth it uses to bite off chunks of coral to eat.

Incredible neon blues and greens, vivid oranges and deep reds are not uncommon amongst Parrot Fish, and often found all on the one fish!

No stranger to most, the Clownfish is a common sight on the reef also. Clownfish will most commonly be found hiding amongst the vividly coloured, free-flowing limbs of sea anemones. Don’t be fooled though – these are actually poisonous tentacles that the Clownfish are immune to. A convenient hiding spot to stay away from predators!

At the less colourful end of the spectrum – but no less spectacular – you can find bigger fish such as the Grouper. These big boys (and girls) can grow up to 270cm long and 400kg! Whilst being harmless they are actually quite social, and will frequently swim by to say hello and see what all the commotion is about. Managing to get photos with these fish is not uncommon for divers!

Swimming with Dinosaurs

Another reasonably placid inhabitant of the reef you’ll find are the turtles. A number of different kinds can be found gliding their way through the waters. Depending on the time of year, they may be foraging for food, or making their way back to their original nesting ground – often up to 3,000km away! Turtles have incredible navigation, often thought of as the “Old Salt’s” of the sea. No wonder, when you consider Turtles have been navigating these oceans for 150 million years – back to Dinosaur times!

 

Cow of the sea

Another incredible sight within the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef is the Dugong. With their friendly face and mouth that looks like a hoover ready to pluck up anything in its path, the Dugong munch on sea grass on the sea floor. In fact, you can sometimes track a Dugong by the path of pulled-up and eaten vegetation. Similar to dolphins and whales, the Dugong needs to resurface for oxygen, but unlike its neighbours the Dugong doesn’t have the best lung capacity – an Olympic swimmer very well may be able to hold their breath for longer!

Don’t be fooled into thinking the Reef is the only place to see wildlife, either. Take a short trip to the nearby Daintree Rainforest and experience more unique species the area has to offer. Also originating in the time of Dinosaurs is the Cassowary, a large bird with an appearance similar to an ostrich or emu. The Cassowary can be identified by its spectacular blue head feathers and orange colouring’s, whilst atop its head you’ll notice a fan-like horn, which truly makes you think of the dinosaurs.

Rainbow of colours

Another bird common to the Daintree is the medium sized Kingfisher. The kingfisher is another spectacular sight due to its rainbow of colours – they can range from a dull grey right through to a rainbow of reds, blues, greens and yellows. If you’re quick enough with the camera they’re incredible to catch mid flight or catching fish – but you’ll have to be quick!

There is no shortage of spectacular fish, bird and other species to be found in and around the Great Barrier Reef, and Far North Queensland.