Coral reefs are diverse ecosystems that often reminiscent underwater forests. These natural structures are a home to a 25% of all marine life. And it is the combination of plants and colorful fish that makes coral reefs a favorite spot for many divers.
What makes coral reefs so unique? Well, first of all, coral reefs only exist in clean water and warm climate. Secondly, even children know about their amazing beauty. The number of colors and shapes reaches up to 400. But the main attraction is its most incredible fauna world which creates an unforgettable picture.
Large coral reefs, in fact, consist of a number of smaller reefs that are connected into one single ecosystem. Unfortunately, nowadays they are threatened with extinction. Scientists keep claiming that the influence of civilization puts the coral reefs in danger. Even the slightest change of temperature leads to irreversible consequences like the death of a giant reef in just a matter of days.
However, today the area populated by coral reefs is still pretty significant. Therefore let’s take a look at the most beautiful coral reef destinations around the world.
Namena Marine Reserve – Fiji
Fiji is often called a capital of soft corals. One of the best coral reefs here is called Namena Marine Reserve. French explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau claimed this place to be the most spectacular diving spot in the world.
Back in 2004, Fiji authorities finally realized the importance of their natural wealth. In order to protect the underwater world and save the fragile ecosystem, they provided Namena Marine Reserve a special status of a protected area.
Nowadays Namena Marine Reserve can boast 400 known corals and a variety of marine fauna including dolphins and whales. The two main diving spots here are known as the Grand Central Station and the Chimneys.
Belize Barrier Reef – Belize
Every year the coast of Belize attracts more than 130 thousand of tourists who can’t wait to explore all of the variety of local marine life. The 280 km long Belize Barrier Reef is a home to 65 species of corals, 300 species of tropical fish and hundreds of various invertebrates.
Thanks to a high level of water transparency, divers have a chance to admire not only corals but also turtles, rays and colorful tropical fish in their natural habitat.
However, the main attraction of the Belize Barrier Reef is so-called the “Great Blue Hole”. This 300 meter in diameter sinkhole seems bottomless. The only inhabitants of this unique marine cave are sharks which can be seen even from the surface.
Red Sea Coral Reef – Red Sea
The Red Sea Coral Reef stretches from the coasts of Egypt and Israel to Saudi Arabia. The age of this natural ecosystem is approximately 5,000 to 7,000 years.
Coral reefs of the Red Sea are famous for some of the rarest and most interesting shades of such colors as yellow, red and pink. Moreover, 10% of all species living in the Red Sea Coral Reef can only be found in this area.
Located close to the shore, corals attract divers from all over the world. But the most popular, yet a very dangerous place here is a sinkhole with an underwater tunnel called The Blue Hole.
Aldabra Atoll – Seychelles
The coral atoll of Aldabra is located near the coast of Seychelles. For a long time, this place was hidden from humans, which kept it perfectly preserved. Nowadays, Aldabra is one of very few remaining coral atolls virtually untouched by civilization.
The coastal waters beckon divers with hundreds of marine species. The canals, where the largest corals are located, offer excellent conditions for drift diving. The number of fish in some of the areas exceeds 3,000 per 100 square meters.
The entire lagoon of Aldabra Atoll is controlled by local government and UNESCO. Nevertheless, Seychelles authorities permit yachts with tourists to enter Aldabra Atoll but under very strict conditions.
New Caledonian Barrier Reef – New Caledonia
New Caledonia Barrier Reef can be found in the South Pacific in New Caledonia. This is the second largest coral reef on the planet and a very important ecosystem of the world ocean. A 1,500 km New Caledonia Barrier Reef frames lagoon with its immense colonies of corals.
Agriculture activities and nickel mining on the islands in the eastern part of the reef caused a significant damage. In order to prevent further destruction of the ecosystem, local authorities created a conservation area here.
But despite all the damage, coral reef was able to retain its ecological balance and continue to accommodate hundreds of species of fish, animals and plants. Moreover, the biological diversity of the reef is so extensive that new species of fish and invertebrates are constantly found here
Tubbataha Reef – Philippines
Tubbataha Reef will surprise any person with its incredible underwater beauty. The reef is actually a National Marine Park and recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The park consists of two atolls North and South, separated by a 6 km deep canal.
According to some scientists, Tubbataha Reef is about 15 million years old. And due to the diversity of marine life, Tubbataha park is considered the main competitor of the Great Barrier Reef.
Tubbataha Reef can boast 360 species of corals, which in fact is the greater part of all known corals on our planet. It is also a home to more than 600 species of fish. And finally, Tubbataha Reef is one of the several places in Southeast Asia where tourists will be guaranteed diving with sharks.
The Great Barrier Reef – Australia
The last coral reef destination on our list is, of course, The Great Barrier Reef which is located near the coast of Australia. The Great Barrier Reef actually consists of 2,900 individual reefs and occupies more than 344,400 square kilometers of marine area.
The Great Barrier Reef has been the cult diving spot for many years now. However, back in 1985 scientists have noticed that the area size of the reef has been steadily decreasing. Nowadays, most of the 900 island and nearly 3,000 reefs are closed to visitors. Divers are strictly prohibited to even touch corals.
Heron Island is probably the most popular and convenient base area for coral exploring. Tourists come here to admire beautiful fish and corals from the boat equipped with a glass bottom. Multicolored formations of the The Great Barrier Reef leave unforgettable memories. Red, white, pink and even green and blue corals in combination with tropical fish, turtles and dolphins are able to amaze even the most experienced traveler.