Tasman Sea

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Tasman Sea
Locatie Tasmanzee.PNG
Tasman Sea.jpg
Map of the Tasman Sea
LocationWestern Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 40°S160°E / 40°S 160°E / -40; 160
Type Sea
Basin  countriesAustralia, New Zealand
Max. length2,800 km (1,700 mi)
Max. width2,200 km (1,400 mi)
Surface area2,300,000 km2 (890,000 sq mi)
Islands Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island
Benches Lord Howe Rise
Settlements Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong, Auckland, Wellington, Hobart, New Plymouth, Whanganui
Satellite photo of the Tasman Sea Tasman sea.jpg
Satellite photo of the Tasman Sea

The Tasman Sea (Māori: Te Tai-o-Rehua [1] , Pitcairn-Norfolk : Tasman Sii) is a marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean, situated between Australia and New Zealand. It measures about 2,000 km (1,200 mi) across and about 2,800 km (1,700 mi) from north to south. The sea was named after the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman, who was the first recorded European to encounter New Zealand and Tasmania. British explorer Captain James Cook later extensively navigated the Tasman Sea in the 1770s as part of his first voyage of exploration. [2]

Māori language Polynesian language spoken by New Zealand Māori

Māori, also known as te reo, is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. Closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Tahitian, it gained recognition as one of New Zealand's official languages in 1987. The number of speakers of the language has declined sharply since 1945, but a Māori language revitalisation effort slowed the decline, and the language has experienced a revival, particularly since about 2015.

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.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.


The Tasman Sea is informally referred to in both Australian and New Zealand English as the Ditch; for example, crossing the Ditch means travelling to Australia from New Zealand, or vice versa. The diminutive term "the Ditch" used for the Tasman Sea is comparable to referring to the North Atlantic Ocean as "the Pond".

Australian English is the set of varieties of the English language native to Australia. Although English has no official status in the Constitution, Australian English is the country's national and de facto official language as it is the first language of the majority of the population.

New Zealand English (NZE) is the variant of the English language spoken and written by most English-speaking New Zealanders. Its language code in ISO and Internet standards is en-NZ. English is one of New Zealand's three official languages and is the first language of the majority of the population.

Crossing the Ditch

Thirty years after the first person rowed solo across the Tasman Sea in 1977, Crossing the Ditch was the effort of Justin Jones and James Castrission, known as Cas and Jonesy to become the first to cross the sea and travel from Australia to New Zealand by sea kayak. Setting off from Forster, New South Wales on 13 November 2007 in their custom-designed kayak Lot 41, the two-man expedition succeeded after previous attempts, including the fatal journey of Andrew McAuley, had been unsuccessful. They arrived at Ngamotu Beach, in New Plymouth, New Zealand on 13 January 2008.


The south of the sea is passed over by depressions going from west to east. The northern limit of these westerly winds is near to 40°S. During the southern winter, from April to October, the northern branch of these winds from the west changes its direction toward the north and goes up against trade winds. Hence, the sea receives frequent winds from the southwest during this period. In the Australian summer (from November to March), the southern branch of the trade winds goes up against west winds and produces further wind activity in the area. [3]

40th parallel south circle of latitude

The 40th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 40 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America. Its long oceanic stretches are the northern domain of the Roaring Forties.

Trade winds

The trade winds are the prevailing pattern of surface winds from the east toward the west (easterly) found in the tropics, within the lower portion of the Earth's atmosphere, in the lower part of the troposphere near the Earth's equator. The trade winds blow predominantly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere and from the southeast in the Southern Hemisphere, strengthening during the winter and when the Arctic oscillation is in its warm phase. Trade winds have been used by captains of sailing ships to cross the world's oceans for centuries, and enabled colonial expansion into the Americas and trade routes to become established across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.


The sea circumscribes a water body of 2,250 km (1,400 mi) wide and 2,300,000 km (1,400,000 mi) in area. [2] The depth of the sea is 5,493 m (18,022 ft). [4] The base of the sea is made up of globigerina ooze. A small zone of pteropod ooze is found to the south of New Caledonia and to the southern extent of 30°S, siliceous ooze can be found. [5]

<i>Globigerina</i> genus of foraminifers

Globigerina is a genus of planktonic Foraminifera, in the order of Rotaliida. It has populated the world's oceans since the Middle Jurassic.

New Caledonia Overseas territory of France in the southwest Pacific Ocean

New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France, currently governed under the Nouméa Accord, located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, to the south of Vanuatu, about 1,210 km (750 mi) east of Australia and 20,000 km (12,000 mi) from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines, and a few remote islets. The Chesterfield Islands are in the Coral Sea. French people, and especially locals, refer to Grande Terre as Le Caillou.

30th parallel south circle of latitude

The 30th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 30 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America.


The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Tasman Sea as: [6]

International Hydrographic Organization Intergovernmental organization

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is an inter-governmental organisation representing hydrography.

On the West A line from Gabo Island (near Cape Howe, 37°30'S) to the northeast point of East Sister Island (148°E), thence along the 148th meridian to Flinders Island; beyond this island a line running to the eastward of the Vansittart Shoals to [Cape] Barren Island, and from Cape Barren (the easternmost point of [Cape] Barren Island) to Eddystone Point (41°S) in Tasmania, thence along the east coast to South East Cape, the southern point of Tasmania.

Gabo Island island located off the coast of eastern Victoria, Australia

Gabo Island is a 154-hectare (380-acre) island located off the coast of eastern Victoria, Australia, between Mallacoota and Cape Howe on the border with New South Wales. It is separated from the mainland by a 500-metre (1,600 ft) wide channel; access is available by arranged flights and boats. Gabo Island is a shipping reference commonly referred to in Victorian weather warnings issued by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Cape Howe point in Australia

Cape Howe is a coastal headland in eastern Australia, forming the south-eastern end of the Black-Allan Line, a portion of the border between New South Wales and Victoria. Cape Howe was also the original name of West Cape Howe, a coastal headland near Albany, Western Australia that forms the westernmost extent of the Great Australian Bight.

148th meridian east line of longitude east of the Greenwich Meridian

The meridian 148° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Australasia, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole.

On the North The parallel of 30°S from the Australian coast eastward as far as a line joining the east extremities of Elizabeth Reef and South East Rock ( 31°47′S159°18′E / 31.783°S 159.300°E / -31.783; 159.300 ) then to the southward along this line to the South East Rock [an outlier of Lord Howe Island].

On the Northeast From the South East Rock to the north point of Three Kings Islands ( 34°10′S172°10′E / 34.167°S 172.167°E / -34.167; 172.167 ), thence to North Cape in New Zealand.

On the East

On the Southeast A line running from South West Cape, Stewart Island, through the Snares (48°S, 166°30'E) to North West Cape, Auckland Island ( 50°30′S166°10′E / 50.500°S 166.167°E / -50.500; 166.167 ), through this island to its southern point.

On the South A line joining the southern point of Auckland Island ( 50°55′S166°0′E / 50.917°S 166.000°E / -50.917; 166.000 ) to South East Cape, the southern point of Tasmania.


Smoke from the Black Saturday bushfires crosses the southern Tasman Sea 2009 Victorian bushfires smoke plume over NZ.jpg
Smoke from the Black Saturday bushfires crosses the southern Tasman Sea

The Tasman Sea's midocean ridge developed between 85 and 55 million years ago as Australia and Zealandia broke apart during the breakup of supercontinent Gondwana. It lies roughly midway between the continental margins of Australia and Zealandia. Much of Zealandia is submerged, so the ridge runs much closer to the Australian coast than New Zealand's. [7]


The Tasman Sea features a number of midsea island groups, quite apart from coastal islands located near the Australian and New Zealand mainlands:

Adjoining bodies of water

Animal and plant life

A deep-sea research ship, the RV Tangaroa, explored the sea and found 500 species of fish and 1300 species of invertebrates. The tooth of a megalodon, an extinct shark, was also found by researchers. [15]


Moncrieff and Hood were the first to attempt a trans-Tasman crossing by plane in 1928. The first successful flight over the sea was accomplished by Charles Kingsford Smith later that year. The first person to row solo across the sea was Colin Quincey in 1977. The next successful solo crossing was completed by his son, Shaun Quincey, in 2010. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

Abel Tasman Dutch seafarer, explorer and merchant

Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). He was the first known European explorer to reach the islands of Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand, and to sight the Fiji islands.

Coral Sea Islands Australian external territory

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.

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

Bass Strait Sea strait between the Australian mainland and Tasmania

Bass Strait is a sea strait separating Tasmania from the Australian mainland, specifically the state of Victoria.

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.

East Australian Current The southward flowing western boundary current that is formed from the South Equatorial Current reaching the eastern coast of Australia

The East Australian Current (EAC) is the southward western boundary current that is formed from the South Equatorial Current (SEC) crossing the Coral Sea and reaching the eastern coast of Australia. At around 15° S near the Australian coast the SEC divides forming the southward flow of the EAC. It is the largest ocean current close to the shores of Australia. The EAC reaches a maximum velocity at 30° S where its flow can reach 90 cm/s. As it flows southward it splits from the coast at around 31° to 32° S. By the time it reaches 33° S it begins to undergo a southward meander while another portion of the transport turns back northward in a tight recirculation. At this location the EAC reaches its maximum transport of nearly 35 Sv. The majority of the EAC flow that does not recirculate will move eastward into the Tasman Front crossing the Tasman Sea just north of the cape of New Zealand. The remaining will flow south on the EAC Extension until it reaches the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The Tasman Front transport is estimated at 13 Sv. The eastward movement of the EAC through the Tasman Front and reattaching to the coastline of New Zealand forms the East Auckland Current. The EAC also acts to transport tropical marine fauna to habitats in sub-tropical regions along the south east Australian coast.

Maatsuyker Islands archipelago

The Maatsuyker Islands are a group of islands and rocks located 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) off the south coast of Tasmania, Australia. Maatsuyker Island is the southernmost island of the group and of the Australian continental shelf. There are exposed rocks further south of Maatsuyker but they do not meet the definition of "islands". Macquarie Island, far to the south, is also Australian territory but it is an upthrust piece of ocean floor in the remote Southern Ocean and is in a geological sense completely separate from the continent.

Lord Howe Rise A deep sea plateau from south west of New Caledonia to the Challenger Plateau, west of New Zealand

The Lord Howe Rise is a deep sea plateau which extends from south west of New Caledonia to the Challenger Plateau, west of New Zealand in the south west of the Pacific Ocean. To its west is the Tasman Basin and to the east is the New Caledonia Basin. Lord Howe Rise has a total area of about 1,500,000 square km, and generally lies about 750 to 1,200 metres under water. It is part of Zealandia, a much larger continent that is now mostly submerged, and so is composed of continental crust.

The South Tasman Rise is an area of seafloor that lies 550 km south of Hobart, Tasmania in the Southern Ocean where water depths are about 1,500 metres. The South Tasman Rise is also known as the Tasmania Ridge or South Tasmania Ridge.

Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Park Reserve geographical object

Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Park Reserve is a former Marine protected area consisting of waters around Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs located at the south-eastern end of the Coral Sea Islands, an Australian territory in the Coral Sea and the north-western Tasman Sea. It was incorporated into the new Lord Howe Commonwealth Marine Reserve in December 2012. The two reefs also form a Ramsar site, having been listed as Ramsar Site 1223, on 21 October 2002, under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance.

The Lord Howe Seamount Chain is one of the two parallel seamount chains alongside the east coast of Australia; the Lord Howe and Tasmantid seamount chains both run north-south through parts of the Coral Sea and Tasman Sea. These chains have longitudes of approximately 159°E and 156°E respectively.

Outline of Australia Overview of and topical guide to Australia

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Australia:

The Central Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region of the Earth's seas, comprising the tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean, and the connecting seas.

Zealandia Mostly submerged mass of continental crust containing New Zealand and New Caledonia

Zealandia, also known as the New Zealand continent or Tasmantis, is an almost entirely submerged mass of continental crust that sank after breaking away from Australia 60–85 million years ago, having separated from Antarctica between 85 and 130 million years ago. It has variously been described as a continental fragment, a microcontinent, a submerged continent, and a continent. The name and concept for Zealandia was proposed by Bruce Luyendyk in 1995. Zealandia's status as a continent is not universally accepted, but New Zealand geologist Nick Mortimer has commented that "if it wasn't for the ocean" it would have been recognized as such long ago.

Borders of the oceans The limits of the Earths oceanic waters

The borders of the oceans are the limits of the Earth's oceanic waters. The definition and number of oceans can vary depending on the adopted criteria.

The Tasman Front is a relatively warm water east-flowing surface current and thermal boundary that separates the Coral Sea to the north and the Tasman Sea to the south. The name was proposed by Denham and Crook in 1976, to describe a thermal front that extends from Australia and New Zealand between the Coral Sea and Tasman Sea. Originating in the edge of the East Australian Current (EAC), the Tasman Front meanders eastward between longitudes 152° E and 164° E and latitudes 31° S and 37° S, then reattaches to the coastline at New Zealand, forming the East Auckland Current.

The Tasmantid Seamount Chain is a 2,000 km (1,200 mi) long chain of seamounts in the South Pacific Ocean. The chain consists of over 16 extinct volcanic peaks, many rising more than 4,000 m (13,000 ft) from the seabed. It is one of the two parallel seamount chains alongside the East Coast of Australia; the Lord Howe and Tasmantid seamount chains both run north-south through parts of the Coral Sea and Tasman Sea. These chains have longitudes of approximately 159°E and 156°E respectively.


  1. Rāwiri Taonui. Tapa whenua – naming places – Events, maps and European influences, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Ministry for Culture and Heritage. ISBN   978-0-478-18451-8. Updated 1 March 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2011
  2. 1 2 "Tasman Sea". Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  3. Rotschi & Lemasson 1967, p. 54.
  4. "Depth of the sea" (PDF). Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  5. Rotschi & Lemasson 1967, p. 51.
  6. "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. p. 36. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  7. Van Der Linden, Willem J.M (1969). "Extinct mid-ocean ridges in the Tasman sea and in the Western Pacific". Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 6 (6): 483–490. Bibcode:1969E&PSL...6..483V. doi:10.1016/0012-821X(69)90120-4.
  8. "Lord Howe Island, Tasman Sea, Australia". volcano.oregonstate.edu. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  9. "Ball's Pyramid". Unusual Places. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  10. "Norfolk Island, Tasman Sea Live Weather Report". www.tide-forecast.com. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  11. "Middleton Reef". sealaunay. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  12. "Department of the Environment and Energy". Department of the Environment and Energy. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  13. van der Linden, Willem J. M. (January 2012). "Morphology of the Tasman sea floor". New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics. 13 (1): 282–291. doi:10.1080/00288306.1970.10428218.
  14. "Mysterious ocean feature found in Tasman Sea". Australian Geographic. 24 February 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  15. "Tasman Sea produces freaky species". CBC News. 30 June 2003. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  16. Anne Barrowclough (14 March 2010). "Kiwi becomes second person to row across the Tasman Sea". Times Online. Times Newspapers. Retrieved 22 May 2011.

Further reading

Coordinates: 40°S160°E / 40°S 160°E / -40; 160