Oceans and seas around the world are inhabited by great life forms and fascinating attractions. One such attraction is the stunning coral reef. Coral reefs, just as the name suggests, are hard rock-like expansive structures made up of corals that have clustered together over time. Corals, which secrete calcium carbonate to give this rock-like structure and appearance, are small marine invertebrates. These ecosystems of the ocean can be likened to rainforests because of the biodiverse habitat they offer.
There are many coral reefs around the world with varying sizes. However, it is interesting to note that most of the world’s coral reefs are usually located in the tropics, and they are home to thousands of amazing marine species.
You might contrast the aquatic habitat with that of the Sahara Desert, and the species which have uniquely evolved to survive there.
Here are of 8 of the largest coral reefs in the world.
1. Saya De Malha Barrier Reefs
This is the biggest submerged barrier reef in the Indian Ocean. It connects the Seychelles and Mauritius islands and has an approximate area of 15,000 square miles. It is home to a diverse range of marine animals including the green turtle and the blue whales.
2. Belize Barrier Reef
The Belize barrier reef is one of the most beautiful and largest barrier reefs in the northern hemisphere. Not surprisingly, it was assigned the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. This reef is home to more than 500 known fish species and thousands more unknown species. Within the reef are coastal lagoons and a mangrove forest as well. Over the years, around 40% of the coral reef has experienced damage in one way or another, leading to concerted efforts by environmental organizations to safeguard its existence.
3. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System
The Mesoamerican barrier reef is one of the largest barrier reefs in the world and the largest in the Atlantic Ocean. It stretches for over 1000 km from the Yucatan Peninsula to Honduras. It has more than 500 fish species inhabiting it which include seahorses, butterfly fish, and sea fans. Also known as the Mayan reef, this barrier reef system has an assortment of fantastic flora and fauna and attracts thousands of tourists from around the world.
4. New Caledonia Barrier Reef
The New Caledonia barrier reef is one of the largest reefs in the South Pacific and among one of the most beautiful barrier reefs in the world. It also happens to be the second-largest double barrier reef. It is home to some of the most exquisite marine life ever discovered by man (approximately 1,000 fish species) and thousands more that are yet to be discovered. It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a length of 1,500 km, the New Caledonia reef is a great example of Mother Nature at its best.
5. Red Sea Coral Reef
The Red Sea coral reef is 1,180 miles long and is located next to Egypt, Israel, and Djibouti. This amazing undersea world is approximately 5,000-7,000 years old according to documented records. It is also quite strong and is home to over 1,000 species of fish and 300 hard coral species with 10% of these exclusively found here.
This coral reef also happens to be the location of one of the most popular dive sites in the world, the Dahab Blue Hole.
6. Apo Reef Philippines
The Apo reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world. It is surrounded by a mangrove forest and covers over 65,000 acres with a length of 13 miles. It is a beautiful spot with an array of blue and pink corals illuminating the blue water. It has a diverse ecosystem with a wide array of marine life such as trigger fish and sea turtles. It was also elevated to National Park status by the Philippines government.
7. Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the world with a length of 1,553 km. It is located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, and has over 3,000 reef systems. It is home to around 400 types of coral and it also incorporates hundreds of islands. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a beautiful sight to behold, and it also happens to be the only coral reef in the list of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.