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The world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 2,900 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays and thousands of animal species. While you might not get to see them all, discovering the unique Great Barrier Reef animals is always a memorable adventure while staying with us at Orpheus Island. Here are just some of Great Barrier Reef inhabitants you’re likely to meet.

Discover The Animals Of The Great Barrier Reef

Whale Watching Great Barrier Reef

Whales & Dolphins


Whales and dolphins are some of the most common animals to see at the Great Barrier Reef. For whales, you need to visit the Great Barrier Reef between May and August, when they migrate to the region for mating and giving birth to their calves. At Orpheus Island Lodge, we offer Great Barrier Reef cruises that offer the chance to spot whales and dolphins, including humpback whales and northern minke whales.



The only herbivorous mammal in Australia, dugongs are a rare and incredible sight of the Great Barrier Reef. Your best bet is joining one of our snorkelling or scuba diving excursions from Orpheus Island. If you’re lucky, you might spot a dugong feeding on shallow seagrass. These elephants of the sea can be as long as three metres and weigh up to 400 kilograms.



More than 100 species of jellyfish are known to inhabit the Great Barrier Reef. Many of these can have a very painful or even fatal sting, such as blue bottles and box jellyfish, so it’s best to wear specifically designed wetsuits during “stinger season”. However, some jellyfish are safer to swim among, including blubber jellyfish and brown jellyfish.

Sea Turtles


Seeing sea turtles in the reefs and waters around Orpheus Island is one of our favourite Great Barrier Reef activities while staying at this luxurious island resort. These majestic creatures glide through the water and aren’t shy when it comes to swimming with snorkellers or scuba divers.

Tiger Sharks


One of the rarest Great Barrier Reef animals, tiger sharks are an awesome sight that’s very hard to forget. These creatures roam the reefs foraging and scavenging for food. Seeing a tiger shark in real life can be quite intimidating, but as long as you give them ample space and don’t panic, they’ll simply pass you by while leaving a lasting impression with their grace and power.



The Great Barrier Reef is teeming with vibrant fish, from the beautiful Angelfish and fluorescent-blue damselfish to giant groupers and uncanny parrotfish. Swim close to the coral and anemone for a chance to spot clownfish and surgeonfish. You can also get up close to the imposing barracudas or encounter wrasse, which are easily identified with the large hump on their foreheads.

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Stingrays can often be seen through the Great Barrier Reef, including in the coral and shallow waters around Orpheus Island. The reefs around the resort, which can be accessed simply by swimming off the beach, are often home to stingrays. These unique creatures should be admired from a safe distance and can often be hard to spot due to their ability to camouflage in the sand.

Sea Snakes


You can see around 15 species of sea snakes while snorkelling or scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef. They’re generally docile and only attack creatures small enough to eat. One of the most common is the yellow-bellied sea snake, but you can also spot the olive sea snake and the black and white banded sea krait.



Whether you’re on land or in the water, staying at our Great Barrier Reef accommodation offers incredible birdwatching. There are around 215 species of bird calling the reef home, including fascinating sea birds. About 70 percent of these are migratory, such as sooty terns and black noddies.

Incredible Experiences with Great Barrier Reef Animals

The Great Barrier Reef accommodation on Orpheus Island provides the perfect setting for discovering the magnificent animals of the reef. From cruises and snorkelling excursions, to scuba diving and stand-up paddleboard, we provide a variety of ways to see these creatures. Book your next Great Barrier Reef adventure at Orpheus Island Lodge and lose yourself to the magic of the reef.


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