90 Days Later: Will Australia Create World’s Largest Marine Park?

Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata) Image by: Richard Ling / Wikimedia Commons

This past November Reuters reported that Australia’s Environment Minister, Tony Burke, said he would be creating a marine park in the Coral Sea to cover  almost 1 million square km — an area the size of France and Germany combined — to help protect fish, pristine coral reefs and nesting sites for sea birds and the green turtle. “The environmental significance of the Coral Sea lies in its diverse array of coral reefs, sandy cays, deep sea plains and canyons,” Burke said. “It contains more than 20 outstanding examples of isolated tropical reefs, sandy cays and islands.”

In 1942, due to a series of naval engagements between Japanese, American and Australian forces three U.S. ships were known to have sunk in the northeastern area of the Coral Sea. The USS Lexington, the USS Sims and the USS Neosho were unfortunately sunk and the site is considered the world’s first aircraft carrier battle; a new marine park would prove to be extremely popular for wreck divers and historians. 

The Australian government was expected to have determined the limits to be imposed on the Coral Sea marine park, as the 90 day window of time has now passed. 

So for now, the world’s largest reserve remains the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, as established by Britain in 2010. The Chagos reserve includes the  The Great Chagos Bank which is home to diverse species such as the Cuvier’s Beaked Whale, Emperor Angelfish, and the Masked Booby.