Inside the tank.
Brendon checks out the Reef HQ.
We're safe behind glass.
You don't have to take the plunge ... you can explore the Great Barrier Reef and not even get wet.
Many people are fascinated by the deep. But the desire to see coral, fish large and small is not enough for some, to convince them to take the plunge. Some have a fear of water and some are terrified of sharks, but at Reef HQ in Townsville, everyone can explore the Great Barrier Reef and not even get wet!
The Coral Reef Exhibit is a giant aquarium holding two-and-a-half million litres of water, and is a mini version of the real thing. The water is re-circulated every 24-36 hours to ensure the necessary components for sea life are at just the right level.
Some aquariums use brightly painted manmade coral, but at Reef HQ, you get the real thing. They have soft and hard coral, giant clams, sea cucumbers and around 120 species of reef fish.
Each day, there is a Reef Alive Dive Show. The diver in the tank can talk to visitors in the theatre and they in turn can ask the diver questions.
The Predator Exhibit has a selection of sharks, stingrays, predatory fish and a giant green turtle named Lucky swimming in 750,000 litres of water. There is also a replica of part of the SS Yongala shipwreck, which is one of the world's top 10 dive sites.
There are some smaller tanks with sea horses, clown fish and various crustaceans. Another tank is home to deep-sea creatures such as the nautilus, a squid-like creature with a shell.
The Sea Turtle Centre is used for rehabilitation and birthing of the creatures. As part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Reef HQ acts as a hospital for sick or wounded animals when they are well, they are released into the ocean.
There is even a behind-the-scenes tour where those interested can see the intricate water purification system and generally how Reef HQ operates.
Visitors stay anywhere from an hour to an entire day at Reef HQ. There are 35 paid staff members there, but they have 200 volunteers ranging in age from 12 to 80 who assist with the tours. And a recent Government grant will no doubt mean a bigger and better place for them to show off!