Some days we just get lucky. For most people, a trip to the Great Barrier Reef is all about getting into the water to scuba dive or snorkel. But for an eye-opener to just how vast and extraordinarily beautiful the reef is, there’s nothing like seeing it from the air.
I took an afternoon joy-flight with Air Whitsunday on a small seaplane from the tiny private Whitsunday Airport to Whitehaven Beach, which is largely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The whole trip took only an hour, but it’s one where words can’t really describe the experience. Instead, I’m going to mostly let the photos show you.
First, a few statistics. The Great Barrier Reef runs for more than 2500km (that’s 1240 miles) from around Central Queensland to Papua New Guinea (we only ever see a fraction of it when we day trip to it). It covers 348,700 square kilometres (135,993 square. miles), an area bigger than the United Kingdom, and – so I’m told – is the only living thing on Earth that’s visible from the moon. The reef is the habitat for about 1500 kinds of fish, 400 species of corals, 4000 kinds of clams and snails, and countless sponges, starfish, and sea urchins.
The Great Barrier Reef region is listed as a World Heritage Site and contains the biggest marine park in the world. It is also under constant threat from dredging for shipping channels to serve the coal industry, chemical run-off from industry and agriculture, and shipping traffic.
It’s not hard to see why all care should be taken to preserve this natural wonder.