ReefThe Great Barrier Reef stretches more than 2000 kilometers along the coast of Queensland, Australia.

Captain James Cook is the first European to discover the reef. 

The reef was named by Matthew Flinders in 1802 while her was exploring northern Queensland.

The first people to populate and live in the area of the Great Barrier Reef are ancestors of today’s Aborigines. 

The region is actually comprised of more than 3000 individual coral reefs with more than 350 species of corals. 

Corals are some of the world’s oldest forms of animal life-about five hundred years old. 

There is no known ecosystem more diverse than the Great Barrier Reef.

A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The reef includes more than two thousand continental islands and more than three hundred cays.

Some regions of the reef are considered to be some eighteen million years old.

The reef contains more than 1500 species of fish, 4,000 species of mollusks and 400 species of sponge. 

The most common shark variety found here is the usually-timid reef shark.

The box jellyfish is one of the most dangerous creatures found on the reef; it has the potential to inflict fatal stings to humans.

The golf-ball size blue octopus is found in the reef; there is no known antidote for its venom so it is deadly to humans (its beak can puncture through a wet suit).

All the fifteen species of sea snakes found on the reef produce venom that is deadly to humans.

Other animal groups who make their home in the reef are anemones, crustaceans and marine worms.

Some of the specific creatures that make a home in the reef include: tiger sharks, loggerhead turtles, manta rays, humpback whales, spinner dolphins, clown fish, sea urchins, lion fish, stone fish and many more.

Some channels exist within the reef where vessels may pass through; two such are Flinders Passage and Trinity Opening.

The reef contains thirty shipwreck sites of historical significance-no one knows how many vessels have succumbed to the treacherous waters.

More than two million people visit this World Heritage site a year.