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The Great Barrier Reef is the biggest group of coral reefs in the world.
It stretches along the coast on the north-east part of Australia. It is called the Great Barrier Reef because it creates a barrier between the Pacific Ocean and the coast.
The Great Barrier Reef is a scattering of thousands of individual reefs. The reefs is on the World Heritage List made by UNESCO, because of its size and its many different plants and fishes. The reef lies in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the world's largest marine park. It has an area of nearly 350 000 square kilometres. The reef region is 260 000 square kilometres. The reef region is a popular tourist attraction because of its warm climate, sandy beaches, colourful wildlife, tropical islands and ideal conditions for water sports.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches north and north-west from Gladstone, Queensland, to a point in the Gulf of Papua. The Great Barrier Reef is longer than 2000 kilometres and consists of nearly 3000 different reefs. An average reef is about 110 square kilometres in area. The area that The Great Barrier Reef lies in has relatively shallow waters of about 40 metres deep.
The Great Barrier Reef consists of billions of smal animals called coral polyps and plants called coralline algae. The coral reef is built up by dead corals, with a thin outside of living corals. A coral reef includes many species of corals, such as staghorn coral, brain coral, honeycomb coral and mound coral. Almost 1500 of 3000 kinds of fish known to live in the seas around Australia are found in the reef region. Angelfish, cod, manta rays, mackerel, butterfly fish and surgeon fish all live in reef waters. Other animals that live in the reef waters include crabs, shrimps, crayfish, sea urchins, sea stars, sea cucumbers, soft corals, sea fans, sponges, sea anemones and worms.

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