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The Worlds 3 Largest Reefs

Submitted by xmesox on 2009-03-06 | Last Modified on 2010-06-15

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Around the world divers encounter thousands of different reefs but there are only a handful of these large reef systems exist and each is home to their own amazing experience.

Great Barrier Reef

By far the largest reef system in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is probably one of the world's most infamous diving locations. The reef is located off the north east coast of the Australian state of Queensland. The reef stretches a total of 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) and is comprised of nearly 3000 separate reefs. One of the reasons this reef is in such great condition is due to the fact that a vast area of the reef is protected from human impact by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Scuba Diving Article - The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef
Photo by WanderingTheWorld

Scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef is the pinnacle for numerous scuba divers, often a humbling experience which defies the realms of regular reef diving. Due to the fact that the Great Barrier Reef is made up of so many individual reefs it gives divers of all disciplines something to dive. Consisting of numerous fringing reefs, large drop offs, swim-throughs, tunnels and coral covered walls there is not a diver who can say they do not enjoy what the Great Barrier Reef has to offer.

The marine life which surrounds the Great Barrier Reef is astounding and is just another reason why this premium scuba diving location attracts so many divers. Various whale and dolphin species populate these waters in large numbers and make up just a portion of the life divers encounter on the Great Barrier Reef. Other notable marine life consists of 6 different species of turtles, sea snakes and smaller creatures such as seahorses and pipefish. The corals which grow on the Great Barrier Reef are some of the most vibrant corals one is able to experience around the world.

The Great Barrier Reef is home to hundreds of excellent dive sites and is a must see for any scuba diver wanting an out of this world experience.

Video of diving the Great Barrier Reef

Belize Barrier Reef

Scuba Diving Article - The Belize Barrier Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef
Photo by 1ieve

While remarkably smaller than the Great Barrier Reef, the Belize Barrier Reef stretches a total of 300 kilometers (186 miles). In some areas the reef is located as little as 300 meters from the shore of Belize. The Belize Barrier Reef is part of the 900 kilometer long Meso-American Barrier Reef which stretches along such areas as Cancun and Guatemala. The Belize Barrier Reef receives over 100 000 visitors, making it the country’s top tourist destination.

As can be expected with a reef system stretching in excess of 100 kilometers, there are numerous dive sites which lay along the Belize Barrier Reef proving excellent scuba diving, some reef areas being comprised of volcanic formations. One of the highlights for scuba divers on the Belize Barrier Reef is the presence of beautiful ship wrecks which lay scattered along the reef system. The Belize Barrier Reef is also the location for such world renowned dive sites as the Great Blue Hole.

Hosting some of the best marine life in the Caribbean the Belize Barrier Reef provides divers with the opportunity to swim with some of the world's most beautiful fish. Marlin, Wahoo, Bonito, Pompano, Black Fin, Sail Fish, Grouper, Barracuda and Triggerfish are just a few of the 500+ fish species you are likely to encounter when scuba diving the Belize Barrier Reef. The warm waters of the Caribbean are also home to some of the most amazing coral growth and you shouldn’t expect anything less than stunning.

Video of diving the Belize Barrier Reef

The Florida Barrier Reef

Scuba Diving Article - Parrotfish at the Florida Barrier Reef
Parrotfish at the Florida Barrier Reef
Photo by Thespis377

Located off the coast of Florida this is the third largest reef in the world and stretches from the east of Florida, through the Keys and extends to the south west. This reef tract is situated in the diving capital of the United States of America and thus is one of the most dived areas in the U.S. The climate of south Florida coupled with the warm sea water temperatures make for a great area for scuba diving. This reef is also located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which is a huge 9,600 square kilometers Marine Sanctuary which extends from the east coast of Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Scuba diving the Florida Barrier Reef is wonderful and offers something for everyone, from steep sloping walls and amazing drop-offs, to easy snorkeling areas and even well preserved ship wrecks which lay along the reef. The reef is comprised of rich colourful coral and sponge growth, coupled with plenty of great fish including numerous beautiful rainbow parrotfish make for a wonderful underwater photography experience. Located just over 100 kilometers from Key West you can find an area with numerous small reefs with vibrant coral growth and marine life.

For those living in the United States and do not have the finances for a trip to Australia or Belize, then the Florida Barrier Reef is the perfect place for scuba diving. Definitely a place to have in your dive logs.

Video of diving in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary


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The Belize Barrier Reef is also listed among many World Heritage Sites. Three out of four Caribbean Islands can be seen across the length of the reef. A formation of linear sand and coral structures, known as cayes, is commonly found around the reef, which acts as a base for diving adventures. Amongst many cayes, Ambergris Caye is most famous.

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