Coral sea heritage park
Lying adjacent and seaward of the Great Barrier Reef, in a remote oceanic environment, the Coral Sea is separated from the Great Barrier Reef by an area of deep water known as the Queensland Trough, protected from effects of coastal influences such as urban run-off and pollution. Due to this location, it has largely avoided the destructive fate of other coral reefs worldwide, including the closely related Great Barrier Reef.
Photo: Coral Sea Reef; credit: Nicola Temple
A diverse range of coral reefs, remote islands, sandy cays, underwater mountains, abyssal plains and deep-sea canyons make up the Coral Sea. This array of habitats, and the unique coincidence of climate, hydrological and ecological conditions, enable a spectacular array of wildlife to inhabit its waters. In fact, the Coral Sea remains one of the few areas on earth where large pelagic fishes such as tuna, billfish, marlin and sharks have not yet been severely depleted. The protected status of the Coringa-Herald and Lihou Reef National Nature Reserves has allowed fish,mammal,bird,reptile,and invertebrate communities to thrive.
The Coral Sea contains sea mounts that have exceptionally high biodiversity and that have not been destroyed by bottom trawling fishing practice s. In addition, being located on the edge of the Coral Triangle of Southeast Asia, the islands function as a vital genetic link for species between the wider Pacific and the Great Barrier Reef, as currents passing through the area replenish the reefs of Australia and the Triangle.
It also possesses a rich military maritime history, being the site of an historic naval engagement in May 1942, the Battle of the Coral Sea, that turned the tide of World War II. This Battle cemented the ties between the Australian and American armed forces, and marked the first time during WWII that the Imperial Japanese Navy failed to win a naval battle, impeding their seaward advance to Port Moresby.