Coral Sea Islands

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Coral Sea Islands Territory
Coral Sea Islands Territory in its region.svg
Geography
Location Coral Sea
Major islands1
Administration
Demographics
Population4 [n 1] (1 January 2011)

The Coral Sea Islands Territory is an external territory of Australia which comprises a group of small and mostly uninhabited tropical islands and reefs in the Coral Sea, northeast of Queensland, Australia. The only inhabited island is Willis Island. The territory covers 780,000 km2 (301,160 sq mi), most of which is ocean, extending east and south from the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef and includes Heralds Beacon Island, Osprey Reef, the Willis Group and fifteen other reef/island groups. Cato Island is the highest point in the Territory. [1]

States and territories of Australia first-level subdivision of Australia

The states and territories are the first-level administrative divisions of the Commonwealth of Australia. They are the second level of government in Australia, located between the federal and local government tiers.

Coral Sea A marginal sea of the South Pacific off the northeast coast of Australia

The Coral Sea is a marginal sea of the South Pacific off the northeast coast of Australia, and classified as an interim Australian bioregion. The Coral Sea extends 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) down the Australian northeast coast.

Queensland North-east state of Australia

Queensland is the second-largest and third-most populous state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. To its north is the Torres Strait, with Papua New Guinea located less than 200 km across it from the mainland. The state is the world's sixth-largest sub-national entity, with an area of 1,852,642 square kilometres (715,309 sq mi).

Contents

History and status

The Coral Sea Islands were first charted in 1803. In the 1870s and 1880s the islands were mined for guano but the absence of a reliable supply of fresh water prevented long-term habitation. [1] The Coral Sea Islands became an Australian external territory in 1969 by the Coral Sea Islands Act (prior to that, the area was considered part of Queensland) and extended in 1997 to include Elizabeth Reef and Middleton Reef nearly 800 km further south, already in the Tasman Sea.

Guano excrement of seabirds and bats

Guano is the accumulated excrement of seabirds and bats. As a manure, guano is a highly effective fertilizer due to its exceptionally high content of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium: nutrients essential for plant growth. Guano was also, to a lesser extent, sought for the production of gunpowder and other explosive materials. The 19th-century guano trade played a pivotal role in the development of modern input-intensive farming, but its demand began to decline after the discovery of the Haber-Bosch process of nitrogen fixing led to the production of synthetic fertilizers. The demand for guano spurred the human colonization of remote bird islands in many parts of the world. During the 20th century, guano-producing birds became an important target of conservation programs and influenced the development of environmental consciousness. Today, guano is increasingly sought after by organic farmers.

Elizabeth Reef coral reef in the Tasman Sea

Elizabeth Reef29°57′25″S159°4′32″E is a coral reef in the Tasman Sea. The reef is separated by a deep oceanic pass, some 45 km wide, from nearby Middleton Reef, both of which are part of the underwater plateau known as the Lord Howe Rise. It is around 160 km from Lord Howe Island and 555 km from the New South Wales coast of Australia. The Environment, Sport and Territories Legislation Amendment Act 1997 included Elizabeth Reef in Australia's Coral Sea Islands Territory.

Middleton Reef

Middleton Reef is a coral reef in the Tasman Sea. It is separated by a deep oceanic pass some 45 km wide from nearby Elizabeth Reef, forming part of the Lord Howe Rise underwater plateau. It is around 220 km from Lord Howe Island and 555 km from the coast of New South Wales. In 1997 the Environment, Sport and Territories Legislation Amendment Bill 1996 included the reef in Australia's Coral Sea Islands Territory.

The two latter reefs are much closer to Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, (about 150 km (93 mi)) than to the southernmost island of the rest of the territory, Cato Island. The islands, cays and reefs of the Great Barrier Reef are not part of the territory, belonging to Queensland instead. The outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef is the boundary between Queensland and the Coral Sea Islands Territory.

Lord Howe Island Former local government area of New South Wales, Australia

Lord Howe Island is an irregularly crescent-shaped volcanic remnant in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, 600 km (320 nmi) directly east of mainland Port Macquarie, 780 km (420 nmi) northeast of Sydney, and about 900 km (490 nmi) southwest of Norfolk Island. It is about 10 km (6.2 mi) long and between 0.3 and 2.0 km wide with an area of 14.55 km2, though just 3.98 km2 of that comprise the low-lying developed part of the island.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In September 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Great Barrier Reef Coral reef system off the east coast of Australia, World Heritage Site

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. It supports a wide diversity of life and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. CNN labelled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland.

The territory is a possession or external territory of Australia, administered from Canberra by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities. Previously it was administered by the Attorney-General's Department [2] and the Department of Transport and Regional Services). [3] Defence is the responsibility of Australia, and the territory is visited regularly by the Royal Australian Navy.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Canberra capital city of Australia

Canberra is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new nation, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory; 280 km (170 mi) south-west of Sydney and 660 km (410 mi) north-east of Melbourne.

Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities Australian government department

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development is an Australian Public Service department of the Government of Australia charged with the responsibility for infrastructure and major projects, transport, local government, external territories administration, rural and regional development, population policy, and cities.

Australia maintains automatic weather stations on many of the isles and reefs, and claims a 200-nautical-mile (370 km) exclusive fishing zone. There is no economic activity (except for a significant but as yet unquantified charter fishing and diving industry), and only a staff of three or four people to run the meteorological station on Willis Island (South Islet), established in 1921. [4] In November 2011, the Australian government announced that a 989,842-square-kilometre (382,180 sq mi) protected area was planned in the Coral Sea. [5]

Fishing Activity of trying to catch fish

Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping. “Fishing” may include catching aquatic animals other than fish, such as molluscs, cephalopods, crustaceans, and echinoderms. The term is not normally applied to catching farmed fish, or to aquatic mammals, such as whales where the term whaling is more appropriate. In addition to being caught to be eaten, fish are caught as recreational pastimes. Fishing tournaments are held, and caught fish are sometimes kept as preserved or living trophies. When bioblitzes occur, fish are typically caught, identified, and then released.

The Supreme Court of Norfolk Island has jurisdiction over the islands. [6] However, the laws of the Australian Capital Territory apply not those of Norfolk Island. [7] The territory's FIPS 10-4 code is CR, whereas ISO 3166 includes it in Australia (AU).

The Supreme Court of Norfolk Island is the superior court for Australian territory of Norfolk Island. It has unlimited jurisdiction within the territory in civil matters and hears the most serious criminal matters. It also has jurisdiction over the Coral Sea Islands Territory. All matters are heard before a single judge, including appeals from the Court of Petty Sessions. In the Australian court hierarchy it is one of eight state and territory Supreme Courts having unlimited jurisdiction in their respective parts of Australia. Appeal lies to the Federal Court of Australia, from which an appeal by special leave can be made to the High Court of Australia.

Australian Capital Territory Federal territory of Australia, containing the capital city, Canberra

The Australian Capital Territory, formerly known as the Federal Capital Territory until 1938 and commonly referred to as the ACT, is a federal territory of Australia containing the Australian capital city of Canberra and some surrounding townships. It is located in the south-east of the country and is an enclave within the state of New South Wales. Founded after federation as the seat of government for the new nation, all important institutions of the Australian federal government are centred in the Territory.

The FIPS 10-4 standard, Countries, Dependencies, Areas of Special Sovereignty, and Their Principal Administrative Divisions, was a list of two-letter country codes that were used by the U.S. Government for geographical data processing in many publications, such as the CIA World Factbook. The standard was also known as DAFIF 0413 ed 7 Amdt. No. 3 and as DIA 65-18.

In 2004, the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands was declared as a sovereign state as a symbolic political protest by a group of gay rights activists based in Australia in response to the Australian government's refusal to recognise same-sex marriages. The Kingdom was dissolved on 17 November 2017 following results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey indicated a majority of Australians supported same-sex marriage. The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 received royal assent in December 2017.

Geography

Map of the Coral Sea Islands Territory Wyspy Morza Koralowego.png
Map of the Coral Sea Islands Territory

There are about 30 separate reefs and atolls, twelve being wholly submerged or drying only during low tide, and 18 others with a total of about 51 islets and cays (18 alone on the atoll Lihou Reef), some of which are vegetated. The atolls exhibit a wide range of size, from a few kilometres in diameter to perhaps the second largest atoll in the world by total area (including lagoon): Lihou Reef, with a lagoon size of 100 by 30 kilometres (62 by 19 miles) and an area of 2,500 square kilometres (970 square miles), which compares to a combined land area of the 18 individual islets of only 0.91 square kilometres (0.35 square miles). The islands are all very low.

The Willis Islets are important nesting areas for birds and turtles but contain negligible natural resources. They comprise less than three square kilometres (1.2 square miles) of land. There is no port or harbour, only offshore anchorage.

Most of the atolls fall into two groups, while Mellish Reef to the east, and Middleton Reef and Elizabeth Reef to the south are grouped separately:

Northwestern Group

  1. Osprey Reef (submerged atoll roughly oval in shape, measuring 25 by 12 kilometres (15.5 by 7.5 miles), covering around 195 square kilometres (75 square miles), with lagoon up to 30 metres (98 feet) deep)
  2. Shark Reef (small elongated submerged reef 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) south of Osprey Reef, with a minimum depth of 7.8 metres (25.6 feet))
  3. Bougainville Reef (small submerged atoll, 2.5 by 4 kilometres (1.6 by 2.5 miles), area 8 square kilometres (3.1 square miles) with lagoon, dries at half tide)
  4. East Holmes Reef (submerged atoll, about 14 by 10 kilometres (8.7 by 6.2 miles), area 125 square kilometres (48 square miles) with lagoon)
  5. West Holmes Reef (submerged atoll 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) east of East Holmes Reef, about 18 by 7 kilometres (11.2 by 4.3 miles), area 125 square kilometres (48 square miles) with lagoon that is open on the West side, two small cays)
  6. Flora Reef (small submerged atoll, 5 by 4 km, about 12 square kilometres (4.6 square miles))
  7. Diane Bank (sunken atoll, depths of less than 10 m over an area of 65 by 25 km, or 1,300 square kilometres (500 square miles), along the northern edge 3 m deep, with Sand Cay in the Northwest, 3 m high)
  8. North Moore Reef (small submerged atoll, 4 by 3 km, area 8 square kilometres (3.1 square miles) including lagoon that is open on the Northwest side)
  9. South Moore Reef (small submerged reef 5 km South of North Moore Reef)
  10. Willis Islets (sunken atoll, bank 45 by 19 km, bank area more than 500 square kilometres (190 square miles), 3 islets on the Northwestern side: North Cay, Mid Islet almost 8 m high, South Islet or Willis Island 10 m high)
  11. Magdelaine Cays & Coringa Islets (one large, partially sunken atoll structure, almost 90 by 30 km, bank area about 1,500 square kilometres (580 square miles)), 2 islets of the Magdelaine Cays in the North: North West Islet (area approximately 0.2 square kilometres (0.1 square miles)) and South East Cay (area 0.37 square kilometres (0.14 square miles)); 2 islets of the Coringa Islets 50 to 60 km further Southwest: Southwest Islet or Coringa Islet (area 0.173 km2), and Chilcott Islet (area 0.163 km2)
  12. Herald Cays, Northeast Cay (encircled by a reef of 3 by 3 km, total area 6 km2, land area 0.34 km2)
  13. Herald Cays, Southwest Cay (4 km Southwest of Northeast Cay, encircled by a reef of 2 by 2 km, total area 3 km2, land area 0.188 km2)
  14. Lihou Reef and Cays (largest atoll in the coral sea, with a size of 2500 km2, land area 0.91 km2)
  15. Diamond Islets & Tregosse Reefs (large, partially sunken atoll, 100 by 52 km, area of the bank over 3000 km2, with 4 islets and 2 small submerged reefs in the Northeast and Southeast: West Diamond Islet, Central Diamond Islet, East Diamond Islet on the Northeastern rim of the former atoll, and South Diamond Islet, East Tregosse Reef and West Tregosse Reef on the Southern rim)
  16. North Flinders Reef (large atoll, 34 by 23 km, area 600 km2, with 2 islets, Flinders Cay being the larger one with a length of 200 m and a height of 3 m)
  17. South Flinders Reef (atoll, 15 by 5 km, 60 km2)
  18. Herald's Surprise (small submerged reef North of Flinders Reefs, 3 by 2 km)
  19. Dart Reef (small submerged reef Northwest of Flinders Reefs, 3 by 3 km, area 6 km2 including small lagoon that is open to the North)
  20. Malay Reef (small submerged reef, not clearly defined, no breakers, difficult to see)
  21. Abington Reef (submerged reef, nearly awash, 4 by 2.5 km, area 7 km2)
  22. Marion Reef (large circular atoll formation that is composed of three main units located on the Eastern side: Marion, Long and Wansfell; and a number of smaller reefs on the west. The formation sits atop a submarine feature known as the Marion Plateau which is separated from the larger Coral Sea Plateau to the north by the Townsville Trough. Three small sand cays are located on the eastern side of Marion Reef: Paget Cay, on Long Reef, Carola Cay, south of Long Reef, and Brodie Cay, on Wansfell Reef.

The atolls of the Northwestern Group, except Osprey Reef and Shark Reef in the north, and Marion Reef in the south, are located on the Coral Sea Plateau (Queensland Plateau), a contiguous area of depths less than 1000 m.

The Nature Reserves were created to protect wildlife in the respective areas of the territory; together they form the Coral Sea Reserves Ramsar Site.

Mellish Reef

  1. Mellish Reef, being about 300 km to the east of the Northwestern Group, thus the most distant from the Australian continent of all the reefs and atolls of the Coral Sea Islands Territory, is not considered to be part of any group. It has the outline of a boomerang-shaped platform around 10 km in length and 3 km across, area 25 km2. The surrounding reefs, which enclose a narrow lagoon, are completely submerged at high tide. Near the centre of the lagoon is the only permanent land of the reef - Heralds-Beacon Islet. The island is a small cay measuring 600 m by 120 m, area 57,000 m2, only rising a few ms above the high-water mark. [8]

Southeasterly Group

  1. Frederick Reefs: The reefs form a semi-enclosed lagoon, known as Anchorage Sound, with an opening on the North side. The complex measures about 10 by 4 km, with an area of 30 km2. On the southern side of the reef lies Observatory Cay, the only permanently dry land, although there are a few of others cays that can be awash at high tide.
  2. Kenn Reefs, submerged atoll of about 15 by 8 km, area 40 km2, islet Observatory Cay in the Southeast, 2 m high
  3. Saumarez Reefs, southernmost reefs to be located on the Coral Sea Shelf; three main reefs and numerous smaller reefs that form a large crescent-shaped formation open to the northwest, about 27 by 14 km, area less than 300 km2. There are two sand cays: North East Cay and South West Cay.
  4. Wreck Reefs: atoll 25 by 5 km, area 75 km2, open on the North. Islets found on the reefs include Bird Islet, West Islet and Porpoise Cay.
  5. Cato Reef: Cato bank 21 by 13 km, area 200 km2 of depths less than 17 m; Cato Reef encircles an area of 3.3 by 1.8 km, area 5 km2 including lagoon; Cato Island, in the West of the lagoon, 650 by 300 m, area 0.15 km2, 6 m high. Close to the Southeast corner of Cato bank is Hutchison Rock, with 1 m depth over. Cato Island is the highest point in the Territory and a camp site on the Island called Heaven is the home of the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands.

Extreme South

Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, together with reefs around Lord Howe Island (New South Wales) 150 km to the south, are regarded as the southernmost coral reefs in the world. Their location, where tropical and temperate ocean currents meet, contributes to an unusually diverse assemblage of marine species. These mostly submerged atolls which dry only during low tide were added to the territory only in 1989. They are located on the Lord Howe Rise in the Tasman Sea which joins the Coral Sea in the south. Already on 23 December 1987, they were protected as the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve, which has an area of 1880 km2.

  1. Middleton Reef, atoll about 8.9 by 6.3 km, area 37 km2 including lagoon, one islet: The Sound, 100 by 70 m (area 5,000 m2), highest point close to the Northern end 1.5 m. At low tides much of the reef flat is exposed.
  2. Elizabeth Reef, atoll about 8.2 by 5.5 km, area 51 km2 including lagoon, one islet: Elizabeth island (Elizabeth cay), no vegetation, 600 m by 400 m (area 0.2 km2), highest point 0.8 m. At low tides much of the reef flat is exposed.

Overview of islets and cays

ComplexTypeIslets/cays
West Holmes Reefatoll2
Diane Bankatoll (mostly sunken)Diane Bank Cay
Willis Groupatoll (partially sunken)South Islet (Willis Island), Mid Islet, North Cay
Magdelaine Cays and Coringa Isletsatoll (partially sunken)Northwest Islet, Southeast Cay, Southwest, Chilcott Islets
Herald Cays (North)reefNorthwest Cay
Herald Cays (South)reefSoutheast Cay
Lihou Reef and Caysatoll18
Diamond Islands and Tregosse Reefsatoll (partially sunken)4
Flinders Reefs (North)atollFlinders, Main, Victoria Cays
Marion ReefatollPaget, Carola, Brodie Cays
Mellish ReefatollHeralds-Beacon Islet
Frederick ReefsatollObservatory Cay
Kenn ReefatollObservatory Cay
Saumarez ReefatollNortheast, Southwest Cays
Wreck ReefatollBird, West Islets, Porpoise Cay
Cato ReefatollCato Island
Middleton Reefatoll1
Elizabeth Reefatoll1
Total number of islands/cays51

Man-made structures

Automatic, unmanned weather stations are located on the following reefs or atolls:

Lighthouses are located on following reefs or islands:

Willis Island, the only inhabited island, has a number of structures.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Lihou Reef National Nature Reserve

Lihou Reef National Nature Reserve is a former marine protected area covering an area of 8440 km2in the Australian Coral Sea Islands Territory that was incorporated into the new Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve in December 2012. Together with the Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve, from which it is separated by about 100 km of open ocean, it forms the Coral Sea Reserves Ramsar Site, designated on 16 August 2002, listing it under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance.

Kayangel State in Palau

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Namdrik Atoll atoll

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Bikar Atoll atoll

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Rowley Shoals group of three atoll-like coral reefs in Indian Ocean off northwestern coast of Western Australia

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Namonuito Atoll island group

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Wreck Reefs reef in Australia

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Cato Reef reef in Australia

Cato Reef, a part of the Cato Bank, is an area in the Coral Sea off the central coast of Queensland, Australia that is of approximately 21 by 13 km of this 200 km2 (77 sq mi) area, where depth of water is typically less than 17 m (56 ft). Upon Cato Bank Cato Reef encircles an area of 3.3 by 1.8 km, area 5 km2 (1.9 sq mi) including a small shallow lagoon which contains Cato Island, a low-relief cay in the west that is approximately 650 by 300 m, area 15 hectares, 6 m (20 ft) high. Close to the southeast corner of Cato Bank is Hutchison Rock, with one metre (3.3 ft) depth over it.

Coral Sea Reserves Ramsar Site

The Coral Sea Reserves Ramsar Site comprises the 17,292 km2 of oceanic island and reef habitats within the former Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve and the former Lihou Reef National Nature Reserve in the Australian Coral Sea Islands Territory.

Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve protected area

Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve is a former nature reserve in Australia’s Coral Sea Islands Territory that was incorporated into the new Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve in December 2012. The former nature reserve together with the Lihou Reef National Nature Reserve is part of the Coral Sea Reserves Ramsar Site. Its extent is also within the Coringa-Herald Reefs Important Bird Area.

Tizard Bank

The Tizard Bank, 10°15′N114°30′E, in Chinese known as 郑和群礁 and Zhenghe Qunjiao, is a partially sunken atoll and one of the significant maritime features of the north-western part of the Spratly Islands. It is claimed by the China, Taiwan and Vietnam, and various parts of it are occupied by these nations.

St. Joseph Atoll

Saint Joseph Atoll is part of the Amirante Islands group, which are in the Outer Islands coral archipelago of the Seychelles islands and nation. The atoll is located southwest of the granitic Inner Seychelles archipelago, with a distance of 248 km south of Victoria, Seychelles.

References

  1. 1 2 Geoscience Australia. Coral Sea Islands Archived 21 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  2. First Assistant Secretary, Territories Division (30 January 2008). "Territories of Australia". Attorney-General's Department. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 7 February 2008. The Federal Government, through the Attorney-General's Department administers Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Jervis Bay, and Norfolk Island as Territories.
  3. Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. "Territories of Australia". Archived from the original on 16 December 2007. Retrieved 7 February 2008. As part of the Machinery of Government Changes following the Federal Election on 29 November 2007, administrative responsibility for Territories has been transferred to the Attorney General's Department.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/wopapub/house/committee/pwc/willisisland/subs/sub1_pdf.ashx
  5. "Australia plans huge marine reserve in Coral Sea". BBC News. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  6. Coral Sea Islands Act 1969 (Cth) s 8 Courts having jurisdiction in the Territory
  7. Application of Laws Ordinance 1973 (Coral Sea Islands) (Cth).
  8. "Oceandots.com". Archived from the original on 23 December 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2009.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)

Notes

  1. No permanent population, weather monitoring station generally with four staff.


Coordinates: 19°05′27″S150°54′06″E / 19.09083°S 150.90167°E / -19.09083; 150.90167