Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef stretches 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) through the Coral Sea along Australia’s northeastern coast. The reef, which in actuality is a collection of thousands of distinct coral reefs, has been designated a World Heritage site for its sheer beauty and uniquely complex and delicate ecosystem. More than 10,000 species, including 1,500 types of fish and 200 kinds of birds, live on the reef’s cays, atolls, and islands. The beauty of the fish and coral waterscapes annually draws hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to see the spectacle by diving, snorkeling, and glass-bottom boating. Conservationists fear that the large influx of visitors and their collateral effect on pollution are damaging the very natural wonder that people come to celebrate.