Advice: Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef

Last updated 13:18 18/12/2013

Want to know the best place to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef? If you have a travel question, email us at travel@stuff.co.nz.

Q. About six years ago I visited Queensland and took a day-long boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. I saw many yellow and blue fish, but was disappointed to see only grey coral.

In late October friends from the United States are visiting Queensland and I am joining them.

Can you suggest another area along the Queensland or New South Wales coast where we are more likely to see colourful coral and coloured fish?

Does the time of year affect the coral's colour? Snorkelling is of interest, but none of us will be diving.

A. A marine biologist at the reef tour company we work with says the differing colours are to do with the light filtering effect of sea water - the further away you are from it, the less colour you get.

Very rarely will you see the reds and yellows because they are the first to be filtered out in the water.

The most common colours seen during the day are the blues, greens and purples.

Images of reds and yellows are often taken at night time with a high-powered flash.

Winds, tide and lack of sunlight are also factors that can influence colours, but the time of year doesn't have an impact.

The GBR is a world heritage listed site and the world's most extensive coral reef, so this is most definitely where you want to be heading for your day on the water.

The GBR extends over 2000 kilometres and can be accessed at many points.

Some of the most popular are Tropical North Queensland and the Southern Great Barrier Reef. The Agincourt Ribbon Reefs, which are accessed from Port Douglas, are closer to the edge of the continental shelf - said to offer a superior coral experience.

The Southern Great Barrier Reef has cooler waters with an abundance of plankton which means lots of ''giant'' marine life like turtles and manta ray.

Gabrielle Brown, Destination Product Manager, Australia

If you have a travel question, email us at travel@stuff.co.nz and we'll get the experts at House of Travel to provide the answer. Include a nickname if you don't want to be identified. Not all questions will be answered.

- Stuff

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