Diving and snorkelling

Diving and snorkelling are some of the best ways to take in the spectacular underwater views that the Great Barrier Reef has to offer, and to come face-to-face with its captivating marine life.

Although divers and snorkellers have had minimal impact upon the Great Barrier Reef so far, there are times when some divers and snorkellers can get a little too close and may stress the marine life or crush and break corals.

Most damage occurs as a result of those who are unable to maintain good control in the water (for example, through fighting a current, or trying to get a closer look, or taking photographs).

By having good snorkel and dive practices, you'll be able to preserve this special world for others to experience.

In general

  • Enhance the quality of your dive experience by learning about the environment you'll visit
  • Practice buoyancy control over sand patches before approaching a reef - test buoyancy whenever you're using new equipment such as new wetsuits, buoyancy control devices (BCDs) and cameras
  • Make sure you are properly weighted before diving near a reef
  • Check that all your dive gear is secure before you get into the water so that it doesn't dangle and catch on the reef
  • Move slowly and deliberately in the water, relax and take your time - avoid rapid changes in direction
  • Avoid making sudden or loud noises underwater
  • Avoid leaning on, holding onto or touching any part of the reef - this is particularly important when you are taking underwater photographs
  • Avoid kicking up and disturbing the sand if you're over a sandy area
  • Avoid touching any animals or plants
  • Avoid feeding fish
  • Stay more than one metre away from giant clams
  • Keep clear of free-swimming animals (such as turtles, whales and sea snakes). In particular, do not chase, ride, grab or block the path of these animals
  • Avoid relocating any marine life, particularly when taking photos and filming.

Marine Parks legal requirements

  • You must not damage, collect or otherwise take coral, including dead coral, and protected shell species (that is giant triton shell, helmet shell and giant clam) in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park unless you have a Marine Parks permit.

Note: Take includes removing, gathering, killing or interfering with, or attempting to take. There may be special arrangements for Traditional Owners.

  • Free Zoning Maps

    Zoning maps

    If you're heading out on the water, don't forget your free Zoning Map so you know where you can go and what you can do.

  • Important milestone

    40 years anniversary

    We're delighted to celebrate the 40 years of the managing the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Visit the Reef

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    Visit our Great Barrier Reef and discover its amazing animals, plants, and habitats.

  • What you can do

    purple coral

    Everyone has a role to play in protecting our Great Barrier Reef. Find out what you can do to help protect this great Australian icon.

  • Report marine strandings

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    If you see sick, dead or stranded marine animals please call RSPCA QLD 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)

  • Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef

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    A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.