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Thetford Reef

Updated Fri 19 Jul 2019

Thetford Reef is a small horseshoe-shaped reef that is great for both snorkelling and scuba diving. It has a beautiful combo of sandy sea beds teeming with life and colourful coral bommies that are host to many coral species and vibrant tropical fish! The reef itself is about 2km long and has several individual sites, each more unique than the last!

Thetford Reef is especially great for those interested in macro photography - this reef is particularly plentiful in smaller tropical fish and flowering corals that make for great photo subjects! It has a number of small caves, drop-offs, swim-throughs, and plenty of coral gardens to keep you entertained and in wonder! You may visit sites such as Cathedral, Blue Lagoon, 360 or East Meets West during your time on Thetford where you can enjoy a large variety of marine life!

Things you may see at Thetford Reef:

Christmas Tree Worms

Christmas tree worms are one of the funkiness and unique looking animals on the reef! They come in a huge variety of colours and support two spiral-shaped ‘crowns’, which is the only part of the worm you are likely to see. The bulk of the worm lives inside a tube, which lives inside a coral body, where it can retract its colourful crown for safety!

They look like something straight out of a children's book or sci-fi movie and are a welcome wild pop of colour to Thetford Reef.


There are a lot of species of damselfish on the Great Barrier Reef, but at Thetford Reef, you are likely to see the white striped humbug variety or the electric blue type! The humbug is white with three vertical stripes down its sides and grows to a maximum of 10cm. They are considered to be an aggressive species, but due to the size, are of no threat to human visitors! Electric blue damselfish is a bit smaller and is a bright electric blue with a small black spot on its back.

Gorgonian Fans

Gorgonian Fans are also known as sea fans and are closely related to coral and jellyfish. Like corals, they are a stationary species and attach to a hard surface where they spend the entirety of their lives. They come in a huge variety of colours and stand in a fan-like fashion, extending out onto the reef. They are an interesting species to encounter while beneath the waves and are often home to many small reef creatures includes sea stars, small fish and seahorses!

Pygmy Seahorse

Pygmy seahorses are a very tiny type of seahorse that is extremely camouflaged and hard to spot! If you’re lucky enough to see these little guys, you will notice their amazing camouflage skills as they completely blend in their environment. Adults can be as little as 13mm long, giving them an advantage when it comes to hide-and-seek. When you combine this with their stellar hiding skills, they are almost impossible to see. They are often hiding among corals, fans and grasses, anchoring on with their tails! 

Staghorn Coral

Staghorn Coral are one of the more distinguishable types of corals you will find on the reef. They reach out onto the reefs, looking like the alters of a stag, branching with pointed ends! They are often seen in colonies and are tan in colour with white tips. They grow relatively quickly as they are susceptible to damage and must recover quickly. They play an important role in the formation of reefs, acting as the building blocks that create the shape and structure of the coral beds.

Visit Thetford Reef for yourself today by making your way to the Great Barrier Reef! Ask our friendly travel experts which tour is right for you to enjoy the trip of a lifetime to one of the wonders of the world!

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