Australia's Great Barrier Reef has become an increasingly popular tourist retreat which mixes beauty and relaxation with the chance to learn much about the structure's marine biology.
GV AERIAL Heron Island
GV & SV Helicopter landing, hostess opening door, passengers emerging onto beach (4 shots)
GV People on reef at low tide, searching for specimens (4 shots)
GV & SV UNDERWATER Coral reefs, plants and fish (6 shots)
SVs UNDERWATER Fish, coral waving in water, woman diver swimming (3 shots)
GV & SV Boat anchored off beach at dusk, man in canoe (2 shots)
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Background: Australia's Great Barrier Reef has become an increasingly popular tourist retreat which mixes beauty and relaxation with the chance to learn much about the structure's marine biology. Heron Island is the first port of call for many visitors. It is more southerly of the two island resorts actually on the reef, and only 30 minutes from the Queensland coast by helicopter. The great Barrier Reef is the most extensive reef system in the world. Tourist are shown how the structure was formed, a process which began around twenty million years ago. A walk on the reef flat at low tide reveals a complex micro-environment. The rugged but beautiful coral colonies are the result of a symbiosis of plant and animal cells. These cells are eventually converted into the hard limestone skeleton which makes up the reef. In the shallow pools around the reef, hundreds of varieties of fish have found a rich feeding ground and seem unperturbed by the human visitor in diving gear. The Australian government has been developing the Great Barrier Reef Marine park to allow people the opportunity to use enjoy and benefit from a unique and unspoiled marine environment. The National Parks and Wildlife Service have been providing guidance and support but now it is expected that the resorts themselves will set out to attract tourists in increasing numbers.