contains a unique biological diversity from coral reefs to mangroves
and extensive seagrass beds. The waters contain more than 1500 species
of fish as well as six species of turtles, whale sharks and dugongs.
has a coastline 9800km long. It consists of three major zones. Major features
Great Barrier Reef - the world's largest reef complex. This world heritage
site is 2500km long and is comprised of 2900 separate reefs and 940 islands
Torres Strait - a 150km-wide passage between Cape York and Papua New Guinea
where the Indian and Pacific Oceans met. The strait contains more than
100 islands, islets, reefs and coral cays. Only 16 islands are inhabited.
Gulf of Capentaria - a shallow body of water with a maximum depth of 65m.
Waters within the Gulf circulate in a predominately clockwise pattern
around the margins with little mixing of coastal waters and those in the
central Gulf. Saltpans may extend for more than 20km from the coast in
the southern Gulf.
Great Barrier Reef is home to around 1500 fish species in more than 130
families, as well as 359 species of coral, 1500 species of sponges and
more than 5000 species of molluscs. The reef provides breeding grounds
for the humpback whales. Longman's beaked whale - the rarest whale in
the world - has also been recorded here. It is home to 15 percent of Australia's
dugong population with seagrass beds providing habitat and food for fish,
prawns, turtles, dugongs and other animals.
far, 2195 species of plant - some 25 percent Queensland total flora -
has been recorded on the continental islands throughout the reef. The
islands in the Great Barrier Reef complex are important feeding grounds
for international migratory species, including the breeding grounds for
the Torresian imperial pigeon, which migrates to Papua New Guinea.
Wellesley Islands in the Torres Strait and the waters that surround them
in the southern part of the gulf support the world's largest crested tern
rookery - 13,000 to 15,000 breeding pairs, Australia's largest frigate
bird rookery, at least 60 percent of the east coast's population.