Coral sea islands

Lying beyond the Great Barrier Reefs, Coral Sea islands are a group of reefs and uninhabited low lying islands in the Coral Sea, in the Pacific Ocean. These corals reefs are considered to be one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the ocean. In addition to its natural scenic beauty, the number of shipwrecks in the area gives it a marine archaeological importance. Willis Island is the only inhabited island and is used for nature conservation and scientific research. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has built a weather monitoring station on the island, housing four weather observers. The area is internationally renowned for diving, snorkelling and bird watching. Though visiting the islands is limited, it was established as a micro nation in year2004 as a symbolic protest as well as an expression of queer nationalism by a group of gay activists based in Australia, but there is no resident human population here. Let us learn more about the islands.

Where is it located?

Coral Sea Islands are a group of tropical islands and are a part of Oceania in the Coral Sea located towards north–east coast of Australia. Covering an area of about 3 sq. km, it lies between the geographic coordinates 18°S latitude and 152°E longitude. Stretching a coastline of about 3,095 km, it ranks 252nd in the world.

How is its topography and climatic conditions?

The Coral Sea islands enjoy a tropical climate. The terrain is made up of sand, coral reefs and islands.  Tropical cyclones sweep the islands between November–April. The lowest point of elevation is the Pacific Ocean at 0 m while the highest point of elevation is an unnamed location on Cato Island at 6 m. It faces natural hazards such as occasional tropical cyclones and no permanent freshwater resource is the environment issue.

What is its flora and fauna like?

There are no known native terrestrial mammals on the island. The nesting green turtles are found here.  Species of birds which have been recorded on the islands include breeding population of terns, migratory shore birds and sea birds such as lesser frigate bird, great frigate bird, red–footed booby, brown booby, masked booby, black noody and red–tailed tropicbird.  Land birds such as purple swamphen and buff banded rail are found here. The vegetation found here are mostly shrubs, common purslane, low forests and marine plants.

What are its economic features?

Since the islands are uninhabited, there are no economic activities on the island apart from a staff of three or four employees at the meteorological station on Willis Island. The automatic unmanned weather stations on the reefs relay data to the mainland of Australia. There are no ports and terminals; it has only an offshore anchorage. The defence of the island is the responsibility of the Australian government.

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