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6 places to see Great Barrier Reef wildlife

6 places to see Great Barrier Reef wildlife

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Ribbon Reef minke whale
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Ribbon Reefs

The Ribbon Reefs – a series of slender outer reefs stretching northeast of Cairns near the continental shelf’s edge – are magnificent to behold, both underwater and from the air. Between June and mid-July, migrating dwarf minke whales, which grow up to eight metres long, appear off the southern end of Ribbon Reef #10 as well as around Ribbon Reef #3. Licensed operators Eye to Eye Marine Encounters offer bespoke minke whale research trips; when adult whales without calves are spotted less than 100 metres away (but no closer than 30 metres), snorkelers quietly enter the water and hang onto a mermaid line, floating and waiting for the inquisitive cetaceans to approach. If you’re still, the slender, pointy-snouted grey and white gentle giants will venture within a few metres. To avoid startling them, don’t make physical contact (it’s illegal) or use flash photography; if they’re comfortable, this profound experience could last for hours.

Last year UNESCO voted not to put Australia's Great Barrier Reef on world 'danger list' but the area is still considered to be under threat. Don’t miss our guide on to how to charter responsibly if you visit the area.

Picture courtesy of Michael Nolan

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