20,000 years ago the Great Barrier Reef still hadn't emerged while the sea level sat more than 100 metres lower than present day. Over the following 10,000 years, the last Ice Age which had gripped Earth for more than 100,000 years was approaching it's last days.
As the ice melted, global sea levels began to rise and the low lying lands filled and became part of what we now know as the Coral Sea. As this happened, Continental Islands were formed, effectively cut-off from mainland Australia and eventually many became submerged and the corals were now free to grow on top of them, creating the coral cays we see on the reef today.
Once the Ice Age had ended, the coral began to build the foundation of the Great Barrier Reef we see now.
This theory of coral reef formation was first suggested by the British Naturalist Charles Darwin, whereby he believed that a body of land bordered by a reef ('fringing' reef), would begin to subside, creating a 'Barrier' reef. Should the land mass continue to sink and become entirely submerged, only a ring of coral reef will remain which encircles a lagoon, thus forming a coral atoll.
The newly formed ocean and seafloor off the Northeastern coast of Australia now became a prime location for the establishment of a coral reef.
Coral polyps, microscopic jellyfish-like organisms started populating the shallow zones of the reef, building individual colonies which continued to such an extent that it is now known as the Great Barrier Reef.
Visible from outer space, the Great Barrier Reef is the biggest and most complex ecosystem on Earth, providing food and shelter to more than 9000 organisms and constantly adapting to the ever changing environment in which it lives.
We look forward to seeing you here in Port Douglas and to have the opportunity to show you this incredible part of the world.