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Coordinates: 16°56′03″S 155°06′36″E / 16.93417°S 155.11°E / -16.93417; 155.11

Map showing the location of the Coral Sea.
A map of the Coral Sea Islands.
A satellite image of the Louisiade Archipelago and the northern Coral Sea.

The Coral Sea is a marginal sea off the north-east coast of Australia. It is bounded in the west by the east coast of Queensland, thereby including the Great Barrier Reef, in the east by Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides) and by New Caledonia, and in the north approximately by the southern extremity of the Solomon Islands.[1] South of it is the Tasman Sea.

The Coral Sea Basin was formed between 58 million - 48 million years ago when the Queensland continental shelf was uplifted, forming the Great Dividing Range, and continental blocks subsided at the same time.[2] The sea is ecologically an important source of coral for the Great Barrier Reef, both during its formation and after sea level lowering.[3]

The sea was the location for the Battle of the Coral Sea, major confrontation during World War II between the navies of the Empire of Japan, and the United States and Australia.



While the Great Barrier Reef with its islands and cays belong to Queensland, most reefs and islets east of it are part of the Coral Sea Islands Territory. In addition, some islands west of and belonging to New Caledonia are also part of the Coral Sea Islands in a geographical sense, such as the Chesterfield Islands and Bellona Reefs.

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Coral Sea as follows:[4]

On the North. The South coast of New Guinea from the entrance to the Bensbak River (141°01'E) to Gado-Gadoa Island near its Southeastern extreme (10°38′S 150°34′E / 10.633°S 150.567°E / -10.633; 150.567), down this meridian to the 100 fathom line and thence along the Southern edges of Uluma (Suckling) Reef and those extending to the Eastward as far as the Southeast point of Lawik Reef (11°43.5′S 153°56.5′E / 11.725°S 153.9417°E / -11.725; 153.9417) off Tagula Island [Vanatinai], thence a line to the Southern extreme of Rennell Island and from its Eastern point to Cape Surville, the Eastern extreme of San Cristobal Island [Makira], Solomons; thence through Nupani, the Northwestern of the Santa Cruz Islands (10°04.5′S 165°40.5′E / 10.075°S 165.675°E / -10.075; 165.675) to the Northernmost Island of the Duff or Wilson Group (9°48.5′S 167°06′E / 9.8083°S 167.1°E / -9.8083; 167.1).

On the Northeast. From the Northernmost island of the Duff or Wilson Group through these islands to their Southeastern extreme, thence a line to Mera Lava, New Hebrides Islands [Vanuatu] (14°25′S 163°03′E / 14.417°S 163.05°E / -14.417; 163.05) and down the Eastern coasts of the islands of this Group to Aneityum Island (20°11′S 169°51′E / 20.183°S 169.85°E / -20.183; 169.85) in such a way that all the islands of these Groups, and the straits separating them, are included in the Coral Sea.

On the Southeast. A line from the Southeastern extreme of Aneityum Island to Southeast (Nokanhui) Islets (22°46′S 167°34′E / 22.767°S 167.567°E / -22.767; 167.567) off the Southeast extreme of New Caledonia, thence through the East point of Middleton Reef to the Eastern extreme of Elizabeth Reef (29°55′S 159°02′E / 29.917°S 159.033°E / -29.917; 159.033) and down this meridian to Latitude 30° South.

On the South. The parallel of 30° South to the Australian Coast.

On the West. The Eastern limit of the Arafura Sea [The entrance to the Bensbak River (141°01'E), and thence a line to the Northwest extreme of York Peninsula, Australia (11°05′S 142°03′E / 11.083°S 142.05°E / -11.083; 142.05)] and the East Coast of Australia as far South as Latitude 30° South.


The Coral Sea is also a dive tourism destination. Its spectacular wall dives and large pelagic species making it a popular dive destination.

See also




  1. ^>
  2. ^ Hopley, David; Smithers, Scott G.; Parnell, Kevin E. (2007). The geomorphology of the Great Barrier Reef : development, diversity, and change. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. p. 19. ISBN 0521853028. 
  3. ^ Hopley, David; Smithers, Scott G.; Parnell, Kevin E. (2007). The geomorphology of the Great Barrier Reef : development, diversity, and change. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. p. 27. ISBN 0521853028. 
  4. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 

Further reading

External links

Simple English

The Coral Sea is a small sea off the north east coast of Australia. It has Queensland on its west side and the islands of Vanuatu and New Caledonia on its east. On the north edge is the Solomon Islands, and in the south it joins the Tasman Sea. The Great Barrier Reef is in the Coral Sea. It has a warm climate, it often rains and there are often tropical cyclones. It covers an area of about four times the size of Great Britain.[1] The WWF describe the Coral Sea as being one of the last complete tropical wilderness areas on earth. It has beautiful coral reefs with many different sea creatures including grey and white tip reef sharks, hammerheads, manta rays, tuna, barracuda, turtles, whales and the rare nautilus.[1]

Australia claims many of the islands as part of its 780,000 square kilometre Coral Sea Islands Territory.[2] Most of them are small coral or sand islands, and only one has people living on it. This is Willis Island which is used as a weather station with a population of only four.[2]

World War II

during the Battle of the Coral Sea]]

In World War II the Battle of the Coral Sea was the first aircraft carrier battle fought between the United States and Australia against Japan.[3] The battle lasted from 4 May to 8 May 1942. During that time none of the ships saw each other of fired any of their guns at each other.[3] All the fighting was done by aircraft from the carriers.[3] It is the largest naval battle fought near Australia. It was important because it was the first major defeat for Japan, and it stopped the Japanese from invading Port Moresby, the capital city of New Guinea. Many people regarded it as the battle that saved Australia.[3]



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