Great Barrier Reef Animals – The Great Barrier Reef, found off the coast of Queensland, Australia is the largest structure on earth, made from living specimens.
In fact, this reef is visible from space. As you might have guessed, this massive organism provides food and shelter to a large number of animals.
This Top 10 list will capture ten of the coolest (in my opinion) animals found on the Great Barrier Reef. For the record, given the diversity of animals, this will not be an easy task.
Table of Contents
1. CARDINAL FISH
We start this list off with a fish that is popular amongst aquarium enthusiasts as a result of their small size, simple (but classy) colouring and their hardy disposition.
In fact, they are one of the few tropical fish that are bred extensively in captivity. Good thing too since the wild population is threatened.
The Cardinal Fish is a nocturnal creature who buries themselves deep in the coral reef during the day.
If you look closely, you will see why how this fish received its name…and why they made this list. Yes, their lips actually look like the beak of a parrot. if that isn’t cool then I don’t know what is.
The bright colours and shallow water habitat make this beautiful fish very easy to spot while snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef.
3. FLATBACK SEA TURTLE
Unlike most turtles, the Flatback Sea Turtle has a flatter shell, hence the name. These unusual turtles will typically lay fewer but larger eggs along the same beach that they hatched from roughly 30 years earlier (now that is a good memory).
Although the Flatback Sea Turtle will feed off the coast of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, nesting will only occur along the shores of Australia.
The Triggerfish is easy to identify with their bright colours and pouty mouth. In fact, these characteristics make them one of the most recognizable fish on the world famous reef.
The Triggerfish is known for being incredibly aggressive and will attack divers if they feel threatened. They have powerful jaws and are capable of delivering a painful bite so be careful when observing them up close.
The Dugong is the only marine mammal that feeds solely on vegetation (the Manatee could be another but they spend some time in the freshwater so they get disqualified).
If you want to catch a glimpse of tho massive mammal then I suggest spending some diving time in the northern waters of Australia, between Shark Bay and Moreton Bay where the Dugong likes to hang out.
When it comest to playing nice with others, the Lionfish fails miserably. They are known to be quite aggressive towards other reef fish. Considering how poisonous they are (human fatalities in children and the weak have been reported), it is never a good idea to cross their path.
These poisonous (but beautiful) fish can typically be found on the edges of the reef and they seem to prefer the turbid inshore areas (great… this means you can’t actually see the dangerous fish)
7. TURTLE-HEADED SEA SNAKE
The Turtle-Headed Sea Snake has made a nice living feeding off of fish eggs and will move slowly throughout their range looking for egg clusters.
Once they find a nice, tasty egg cluster they will use a specialized scraper, found on their upper jaw, to scrape the “caviar” off of the branch or ocean floor.
Don’t be fooled by the colour of this snake. Although, they are typically a blue-grey colour throughout most of their range, they will have this amazing, ringed form when living on the reef.
8. HAMMERHEAD SHARK
The Hammerhead Shark (possibly one of the coolest sharks in the world) is different than most other sharks as they prefer the company of other Hammerheads. That’s right, they are known to travel in groups. Just what you want a whole group of deadly sharks coming after you.
Although the Hammerhead Shark can be found throughout the world, they enjoy hanging out around the edges of the Great Barrier Reef. The best place to spot them is where the reef begins to drop off into the deeper water.
9. BOX JELLYFISH
We can’t have a list highlighting the 10 coolest animals of the Great Barrier Reef without discussing the animal often called “the most poisonous animal in the world” also known as the Box Jellyfish.
Unlike true jellyfish that just float around waiting for food to come to them, the Box Jellyfish will actively hunt their meals. Let’s just hope you are not on the menu during your dive.
The tentacles of the Box Jellyfish are still capable of stinging even if they are not attached to the animal or if the jelly is dead, so please be careful.
Sure, you may be asking how can a Sea Slug take the number one spot for Great Barrier Reef animals. Well, I know if I saw them during a dive, I would spend the rest of my day looking at them. Their striking colours not only make them special but also very easy to spot.
While these colourful Sea Slugs can be found in many parts of the world and at just about any ocean depth, they are most abundant in the shallow waters surrounding the Great Barrier Reef.