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The Great Barrier Reef

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

The Great Barrier Reef is a huge coral reef off the coast of Australia. It’s so big, astronauts can see it from space! No other living thing is visible from space.




Did you know coral is alive? It might look like a big rock, but it’s a living thing!


Many other life forms can be found there, too. More than 1500 different kinds of fish live there, but they aren’t the only ones! The Great Barrier Reef is also home to turtles, plants, birds, and mammals.


Harvey is learning all about them on a scuba diving adventure. Here are some of his favorite sea creatures:



Giant Clam

Size: Usually around 440 pounds

(The largest ever was 4 1/2 feet long and weighed 551 pounds!)

They Eat: Plankton

Fun Fact: Giant clams used to be nicknamed ‘man-eating’ clams, because people thought they ate divers whole!



Manta Ray

Size: 23 feet wingspan and up to 4,000 pounds!

They Eat: Zooplankton

Fun Facts: Manta rays are very intelligent. They have the largest brain to body weight ratio of any living fish. The word "Manta" means "blanket" in Spanish. Can you see how it got this name?


Galapagos Penguin

Size: Usually around 3 feet long, but males can grow up to 6 feet

They Eat: Small fish and invertebrates like mollusks

Fun Fact: They are known for their passive, friendly personality.



Sharks

Size: All different sizes and varieties!

They Eat: Most sharks eat smaller fish and invertebrates. Larger sharks eat sea lions, seals, and other marine mammals.

Fun Fact: The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, growing up to 40 feet long and weighing up to 40 tons (80,000 pounds)! You're not likely to see one, though. They like to keep to themselves.



Clownfish

Size: 3-6 inches

They Eat: Small invertebrates, algae, and scraps of fish left behind by anemones

Fun Fact: Clownfish use their bright colors to lure passing fish into anemones. The anemone uses its poison to kill the fish and eat it, and then shares scraps with the clownfish. No one knows how the clownfish survive the anemones' poison.



Turtles

Size: As adults, they can be 3 feet long and weigh 300-350 pounds!

They Eat: Mostly seagrass and algae

Fun Fact: Unlike other turtles, sea turtles can't retract their heads and flippers into their shells. That's because they need them to swim!



Humpback Whales

Size: 50-60 feet, up to 40 tons (80,000 pounds)

They Eat: Krill (small crustaceans), other invertebrates, small schooling fish like mackerel, anchovies, and sardines

Fun Fact: If the whale shark is the largest fish in the world, how can the humpback whale be bigger? Whales aren't fish, they are mammals. They breathe with lungs and have to go to the surface for air.

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