A natural wonder of the world, stretching more than 1,600 miles, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest organically formed structure. Last month, after years of dreaming about it, I had the opportunity to dive the reef and come face to face with some of the most beautiful underwater landscapes I’ve ever seen.

The experience has a way of spontaneously filling memory cards. In that spirit, here are 44 images I took during my time on the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.

[Note: Scott's visit to the GBR was sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland. Learn more about Queensland on their blog.]

1

Welcome to the Great Barrier Reef

1,600 miles long, 133,000 square miles in area, comprising 3,000+ individual reefs and islands, and home to thousands of species.

2

Nemo

Finding Nemo is one of the first things you want to do when you dive the Great Barrier Reef. Around the world, these poor fish have probably been extremely confused as to why, for the past 10 years, everyone has been getting in their face for a photo.

3

Up close

Did I mention these guys get really close? They can grow up to 110kg and over 8.5 feet long.

Intermission
2

11 bizarre species to look for on a Great Barrier Reef dive [pics]

by Sarah Sekula
7

Field notes from a conservation biologist in Antarctica

by Max Seigal
1

7 reasons to book a live-aboard dive trip to the Great Barrier Reef

by Ross Borden
4

Marine life

Some of the beautiful underwater life of the GBR, including sharks and an absolute abundance of tropical fish.

5

Photo-op

The GBR is a photographer's dream, and those who come don't mess around with the gear they bring.

6

Steve's Bommie

This coral spire shoots up to within a few feet of the ocean's surface and is covered with fish.

7

Snorkeling

There are a couple good places to go for a scenic swim on the GBR…just a couple.

8

The reef

A shot of the reef from above. Apart from a scattering of islands, most of the reef comes to within just a few feet of the water's surface, as seen here.

9

Solar eclipse

On my second day on the dive boat, there was an annular solar eclipse. The rest of the passengers and I sat outside and handed around eclipse glasses to watch. I snapped away and was lucky enough to capture an image just as a cloud passed by and the moon and sun once again exposed themselves to us.

Intermission
2

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

by Lindsay Clark
2

11 stunning images of Arctic wildlife

by Espen Lie Dahl
13

10 places to swim with whale sharks [PICs]

by Keph Senett
10

Spoilsport

The Spoilsport, the exclusive dive boat of Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, isn't a bad place to spend a week on the GBR.

11

Big-eye jack

A school of big-eye jack fish beneath the Spoilsport.

12

Dive time

Down we go, to another adventure at the bottom of the sea.

13

Coral

There seemed to be no limit to the number of colors and size variations of the coral of the GBR.

14

Standard scene

A lionfish scans for food while a giant turtle perches on top of a coral shelf above…another typical dive.

15

Coral

Various coral textures and sea anemones

Intermission
1

Dive with Australia’s great white sharks

by eric warren

Arctic safari: 13 stark images from the land of polar bears

by William Drumm

The other side of Queensland: Journey into the Outback [pics]

by Alexandria Bombach
16

Cod

Another encounter with the massive potato cod.

17

Kiss

Here's a shot of me trying to go all the way -- I did my best to get a kiss but she wasn't having any of it.

18

Triggerfish

A species of triggerfish making its way around the reef.

19

Hypercolor

The bold colors of the reef.

20

Above surface

Another view of the Great Barrier Reef from above the waterline.

21

Sunset

Divers take a minute to relax after another beautiful day of diving.

22

Spoiled

Life on the Spoilsport consists of: nibbling on kangaroo, listening to Captain Trevor serenade us, and closing it all out with the daily homemade dessert…you can get used to life out on the reef.

23

Anyone for a night swim?

At night, sharks gathered at the back of the boat, making the evening dip ever so alluring.

24

Coral fan

Another typical underwater scene.

25

Fish

The colors of the fish on the reef are insane; everywhere you look there's another fluorescent specimen swimming by.

26

Snorkeling

I'm sorry, did I mention the Great Barrier Reef has a few good spots to go for a swim? Can't recall if I did or not?

27

Cuttlefish

I watched this cuttlefish change colors repeatedly right in front of me. Its spots would turn dark and then glow like they were lit from behind.

28

Rainbow

One afternoon, while on the top deck of the boat, I turned to see a complete rainbow in front of me.

29

Lizard Island

Lizard island is one of the few islands on the Great Barrier Reef that has any infrastructure. With a luxury resort and some beautiful beaches, it wasn't a bad place to stop for the day.

30

Sunset

Just imagine this scene replaying itself every day.

31

Butterfly fish

A butterfly fish swims around some coral.

32

Above and below

33

Light rays

I really like this image, where you can see the sun's rays shooting towards the bottom of the sea while they're met by the bubbles of the divers already below.

34

Dive time

Down you go!

35

Chilling

This guy was the ultimate chiller. He's the same turtle from the image with the lionfish (#15). I spent a few minutes trying to take some shots of him, and he had this look like, "Enough with the photos already, trying to sleep here, aright?"

36

Stick together

Various types of fish move about in their schools.

37

Coral

So much love gets thrown on the fish, when in actuality it's the coral and the reef that make all this marine life possible.

38

Lizard Island

39

Sunset

Another evening on the GBR.

40

Nemo

Again…I had to.

41

Framed

42

Mr. Cod

Cruising by some divers.

43

Snorkeling

Last but not least…the Great Barrier Reef is a pretty damn good place to go for a little swim.