The Whitsunday Islands are surrounded by fringing coral reefs, and the Great Barrier Reef, known mostly for its intricate maze of colourful reefs, are home for an impressive number of animals and plants. Some of these, such as turtles and crocodiles, have been around since prehistoric times and have changed little over the millennia. The breathtaking array of marine creatures include 600 types of soft and hard corals, more than 100 species of jellyfish, 3000 varieties of molluscs, 500 species of worms, 1625 types of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins.The different types of animals found along the Great Barrier Reef help make it one of the richest and most complex natural systems on earth. While there is a lot known about some of the animals that make the reef home, vast amounts of information and species are yet to be discovered.Perfectly situated right in the heart of this extensive living structure, more visitors go to see the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in the Whitsundays than any other departure place in Queensland. The reef provides protection to the Coral Sea surrounding the Whitsunday Islands and the mainland, creating these safe, calm waters and an aquatic playground to sail, explore and discover.