Copyright (c) 2004  Richard Ling Seagulls on the Barrier Reef. ca. 1930
Copyright (c) 2004  Richard Ling



The Great Barrier Reef supports a diversity of life, including many vulnerable or endangered species, some of which may be endemic to the reef system.

Thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded in the Great Barrier Reef, including the dwarf minke whale, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, and the humpback whale. Large populations of dugongs live there. 

More than 1,500 fish species live on the reef, including the clownfish, red bass, red-throat emperor, and several species of snapper and coral trout. Forty-nine species mass spawn, while eighty-four other species spawn elsewhere in their range. Seventeen species of sea snake live on the Great Barrier Reef in warm waters up to 50 metres (160 ft) deep and are more common in the southern than in the northern section. 

Six species of sea turtles also come to the reef to breed and saltwater crocodiles live in mangrove and salt marshes on the coast near the reef. Around 125 species of shark, stingray, skates or chimaera live on the reef. 

215 species of birds (including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds) visit the reef or nest or roost on the islands,including the white-bellied sea eagle and roseate tern. Most nesting sites are on islands in the northern and southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef, with 1.4 to 1.7 million birds using the sites to breed.