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]


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".


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]


The Tasman Sea is 2,250 km (1,400 mi) wide and has an area of 2,300,000 km (1,400,000 mi). [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]


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

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.

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. [12]


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. [13]

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, Fiji and New Zealand.

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 the continents of 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.

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.

Eddystone (Tasmania) island in Tasmania, Australia

Eddystone is a tower-shaped rock or small island, located in the Southern Ocean, off the southern coast of Tasmania, Australia. The island is situated approximately 27 kilometres (17 mi) from the South East Cape on a bearing of 149° and is contained within the Southwest National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site. An erosional remnant of the Tasmanian mainland with an elevation of 30 metres (98 ft) above sea level, the island is estimated to have separated from the Tasmanian mainland at least 15,000 years ago.

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

This outline of Australia is an overview of and topical guide to various aspects of the country of Australia.

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 subsided after breaking away from Gondwanaland 83–79 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.

Southern Ocean The ocean around Antarctica

The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean or the Austral Ocean, comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60° S latitude and encircling Antarctica. As such, it is regarded as the second-smallest of the five principal oceanic divisions: smaller than the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans but larger than the Arctic Ocean. This oceanic zone is where cold, northward flowing waters from the Antarctic mix with warmer subantarctic waters.

Geology of New Zealand

The geology of New Zealand is noted for its volcanic activity, earthquakes and geothermal areas because of its position on the boundary of the Australian Plate and Pacific Plates. New Zealand is part of Zealandia, a microcontinent nearly half the size of Australia that broke away from the Gondwanan supercontinent about 83 million years ago. New Zealand's early separation from other landmasses and subsequent evolution have created a unique fossil record and modern ecology.

The East Tasman Plateau is a submerged microcontinent south east of Tasmania. Its area is 50,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi), and it is mostly from 2,500 to 3,000 metres deep. It is a circular piece of continental rocks surrounded by oceanic crust. Volcanism occurred there 36 million years ago. The East Tasman Plateau is separated from the island of Tasmania by 100 kilometres (62 mi) of deeper water, and the East Tasman Saddle is a higher ridge connecting the plateau to the Freycinet Peninsula region of the Tasmanian East Coast. This ridge runs north west from the plateau. South-west of the plateau is the L'Atalante Depression.

Borders of the oceans The limits of Earths oceanic waters

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

Exploration of the Pacific

Polynesians reached nearly all the Pacific islands by about 1200 AD, followed by Asian navigation in Southeast Asia and West Pacific. Around the Middle Ages Muslim traders linked the Middle East and East Africa to the Asian Pacific coasts. The direct contact of European fleets with the Pacific began in 1512, with the Portuguese, on its western edges, followed by the Spanish discovery of the Pacific from the American coast.

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.

Temperate Australasia is a biogeographic region of the Earth's seas, comprising the temperate and subtropical waters of Australia and New Zealand, including both the Indian Ocean and Pacific coasts of the continent and adjacent islands.


  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. 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.
  11. "Mysterious ocean feature found in Tasman Sea". Australian Geographic. 24 February 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  12. "Tasman Sea produces freaky species". CBC News. 30 June 2003. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  13. 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