Top Ten Reefs

Top Ten Reefs


A reef is a rock, sandbar, or other feature lying beneath the surface of the water (six fathoms or less beneath low water). Many reefs result from abiotic processes—deposition of sand, wave erosion planning down rock outcrops, and other natural processes—but the best-known reefs are the coral reefs of tropical waters developed through biotic processes dominated by corals and calcareous algae. Artificial reefs such as shipwrecks are sometimes created to enhance physical complexity on generally featureless sand bottoms in order to attract a diverse assemblage of organisms, especially fish.

  1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 km (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square km (133,000 square mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in north-east Australia. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. CNN labeled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland. A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism. Other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish. The Great Barrier Reef has long been known to and used by the Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and is an important part of local groups’ cultures and spirituality. The reef is a very popular destination for tourists, especially in the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns regions. Tourism is an important economic activity for the region, generating $1 billion per year.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions, Top Ten Natural Wonders of the WorldTop Ten Unique Swimming Destinations,,
  2. Belize Barrier Reef

    The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 m (980 ft) offshore in the north and 40 km (25 mi) in the south within the country limits. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300 km  (190 mi) long section of the 900 km (560 mi) long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya up to Honduras making it one of the largest coral reef systems in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the New Caledonia Barrier Reef. It is Belize’s top tourist destination popular for scuba diving and snorkeling and attracting almost half of its 260,000 visitors, and is vital to its fishing industry. Charles Darwin described it as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies” in 1842.
    Links: Top Ten Belize Attractions,,
  3. New Caledonia Reef

    The New Caledonia Barrier Reef is located in New Caledonia in the South Pacific, and is the second-longest double-barrier coral reef in the world, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The New Caledonia Barrier reef surrounds Grande Terre, New Caledonia’s largest island, as well as the Ile des Pins and several smaller islands, reaching a length of 1,500 km (930 mi). The reef encloses a lagoon of 24,000 square km (9,300 sq mi), which has an average depth of 25 m (82 ft). The reefs lie up to 30 km (19 mi) from the shore, but extend almost 200 km (120 mi) to the Entrecasteaux reefs in the northwest. This northwestern extension encloses the Belep Islands and other sand cays. Several natural passages open out to the ocean. The Boulari passage, which leads to Noumea, the capital and chief port of New Caledonia, is marked by the Amédée lighthouse. The reef has great species diversity with a high level of endemism, and is home to endangered dugongs (Dugong dugon), and is an important nesting site for green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Most of the reefs are generally thought to be in good health. Some of the eastern reefs have been damaged by effluent from nickel mining on Grand Terre. Sedimentation from mining, agriculture, and grazing has affected reefs near river mouths, which has been worsened by the destruction of mangrove forests, which help to retain sediment. Some reefs have been buried under several meters of silt. In the lagoons of New Caledonia there are many water species ranging from plankton to larger fish and even sharks. In January 2002, the French government proposed listing New Caledonia’s reefs as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO listed New Caledonia Barrier Reef on the World Heritage List under the name The Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems on 7 July 2008.
    Links: Top Ten New Caledonia Attractions,
  4. French Polynesian Reef

    Links: Top Ten French Polynesian Attractions,
  5. Caribbean Reef
    Caribbean Reef Squid2
    Links: Top Ten Caribbean Attractions, Top Ten Squid/Octopus,
  6. Ningaloo Reef, Australia
    Ningaloo Reef, AustraliaNingaloo Reef, Australia1Ningaloo Reef, Australia2Ningaloo Reef, Australia3Ningaloo Reef, Australia4Ningaloo Reef, Australia5Ningaloo Reef, Australia6
    Ningaloo Reef is a fringing coral reef located off the west coast of Australia, approximately 1,200 km north of Perth. The reef is 260 km long and is Australia’s largest fringing coral reef and the only large reef positioned very close to a landmass. It is known for its seasonal feeding concentrations of the whale shark, and the conservation debate surrounding its potential tourism development. In 1987 the reef and surrounding waters were designated as the Ningaloo Marine Park.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions,
  7. Ras Muhammad National Park Reefs Red Sea, Egypt and Saudi Arabia
    File:Coral reef in Ras Muhammad nature park (Iolanda reef).jpg
                  Ras Mohammad is a national park in a land that belongs to Saudi Arabia and administrated by Egypt at the southern extreme of the Sinai Peninsula, overlooking the Gulf of Suez on the west and the Gulf of Aqaba to the east.
    Links: Top Ten Egyptian Attractions, Top Ten Saudi Arabian Attractions, National Parks, Top Ten Middle Eastern National Parks,
  8. Tubbataha Reef, Philippines
    Tubbataha Reef, Philippines
           Tubbataha Reef is an atoll coral reef located in the Sulu Sea of the Philippines. It is a marine sanctuary protected as Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park. It is nominated at the New 7 Wonders of Nature. 
    Links: Top Ten Philippine Attractions, Top Ten SharksTop 100 Fish,
  9. Beveridge Reef, Niue

           Beveridge Reef is a submerged atoll located in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Niue. A small part of the reef is only visible at low tide; most of it is under shallow water. Elsdon Best reported that “according to native tradition at Rarotonga, the Beveridge Reef was once a fine isle, with many coconut-palms growing thereon, but that it was swept bare by a fierce hurricane, which carried away both trees and soil, leaving nothing but the bare rock.”
  10. Comoros Fringing Reef

    Links: Top Ten French Attractions, Top Ten Comoros Attractions,
  11. Los Roques Archipelago Reef, Venezuela

    The Los Roques islands are a federal dependency of Venezuela, consisting of about 350 islands, cays or islets. The archipelago is located 80 miles (128 km) directly north of the port of La Guaira, and is a 40-minute flight, has a total area of 40.61 square km. Being almost an untouched coral reef, it attracts many “high-end” visitors, especially from Europe, some of which come in their own yachts and anchor in the inner, protected shallow waters. However, development and tourism are controlled. Because of the wide variety of seabirds and rich aquatic life, the Venezuelan government declared Los Roques a National Park in 1972.
    Links: Top Ten Venezuelan Attractions,,
  12. Links: Top Ten Natural Wonders of the World, Top Ten Diving Destinations,

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