Great Barrier Reef off Australia
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Great Barrier Reef off Australia

August 15, 2004
Stretching along more than 2,000 km (1,200 miles) of Australia's eastern coast is one of the world's formost natural wonders - The Great Barrier Reef. It is the single largest structure made by living organisms on the planet, and is teeming with an amazing variety of marine animals, including over 1500 species of fish, sea snakes, turtles, birds, mollusks, and dugongs. Recognizing its value to the world, the Great Barrier Reef was inscribed on the World Heritage List in October 1981. The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is 347,800 square kilometres in area (bigger than the United Kingdom, Holland and Switzerland combined), making it the largest World Heritage Area and marine protected area in the world. In the north, the reef is virtually continuous and is located only 50 km (30 miles) from the shore. In the south, individual reefs are more common, and in some places up to 300 km (190 miles) offshore.

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