17 stunning photos of the Great Barrier Reef that just might inspire you to save it.
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The Wilderness Society

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one spectacular (and sometimes scary, but always beautiful) place.

1. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a lion fish. Gorgeous, but dangerous. All images via iStock.


I mean, just look at it...

2. Don't you want to jump right in?

It's unlike any other reef in the world.

3. Beneath the surface of that water is a whole lot of life.

Why? Well, for starters, it's enormous.

4. Now that's a view.

It covers over 1,400 miles (that's more than the distance from New York City to Miami, FYI), and is the only living thing visible from space.

The Great Barrier Reef — the largest coral reef on Earth — actually comprises more than 3,000 smaller reef systems and hundreds of islands.

5. Check out the Whitsunday Islands. They're beautiful!

It has World Heritage status and definitely deserves it.

World Heritage status is the United Nations' way of deeming a certain place or human creation as having significant cultural or physical value to humanity. National Geographic perfectly explains why the reef has been designated as such:

"The most riveting sight of all — and the main reason for World Heritage status — is the vast expanse of coral, from staghorn stalks and wave-smoothed plates to mitt-shaped boulders draped with nubby brown corals as leathery as saddles. Soft corals top hard ones, algae and sponges paint the rocks, and every crevice is a creature's home. The biology, like the reef, transforms from the north — where the reef began — to the south. The shifting menagerie is unmatched in the world."

6. Look at these yellow and white beauties.

The Great Barrier Reef is more than just beautiful, though — it's home to an absurd amount of unique species.

Like puffer fish.

7. Puffer fish are amazing ... but definitely don't eat one.

And clown fish.

8. Yes, like Nemo!

Giant potato cod also call these waters home.

9. This big fella can change colors depending on its surroundings.

As well as parrot fish.

10. Colorful, huh?

And lion fish.

11. Remember this beautiful specimen from photo #1?

You might spot a jellyfish floating around Down Under, too.

12. If you don't know how to stay safe from jellyfish, you should.

Or, if you're lucky, one of these things! A marine turtle.

13. These are just the coolest.

Don't forget about octopus, either.

14. These species are way cool ... especially the mimic octopus.

Or trigger fish, which aren't shaped this way by accident.

15. Trigger fish are long and slim — perfect for slithering into coral crevices.

I could go on and on — seriously, there are over 1,800 species of fish alone in the Great Barrier Reef — but you get my drift.

These creatures (and so many others) are incredibly important to ocean wildlife.

And that's why it's essential that their home stays protected.

16. Why would we ever want to destroy a place that looks like this?

We need to take action in big ways — like get serious in our fight against climate change (which is already affecting many of the reef's species) and protect the coral and its inhabitants from those of us humans who enjoy fishing and collecting (even if it's at the expense of an entire ecosystem).

If we want to, we can keep the ocean life off Australia's coasts thriving for generations to come.

That's why you should support the Wilderness Society, who are fighting Big Oil in Australia.

The group is demanding that BP stays out of the Great Australian Bight — another pristine marine region Down Under. Fun fact: More than 85% of the species in the shallows of the Bight can be found nowhere else on Earth!.

To support the Wilderness Society, sign their petition to keep BP out of the Bight for good.

17. I'm fairly certain Nemo and his friends would appreciate us protecting their home.

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