Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Park Reserve

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The Elizabeth and Middleton reefs in the far south of the Coral Sea Islands territory

The Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve is a 1,877 km² marine reserve in the border area of ​​the Tasman Sea and the Coral Sea , about 600 km east of the Australian coast.

The two reefs have been administratively part of the Australian territory of the Coral Sea Islands since 1997 . The nature reserve is subordinate to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities of the Australian federal government.

The Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, along with the reefs of Lord Howe Island, are among the southernmost reefs in the world, where tropical and cold water currents meet and produce unusual marine fauna.


According to the widespread opinion that the 29th southern parallel as the sea border between the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales is also the border between the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea, the two reefs lie in the Tasman Sea; according to the definition of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), however, they form the border between the two seas.


The Middleton Reef was discovered on July 20, 1788 by Lieutenant John Shortland on the ship Alexander , who came to Australia with the First Fleet and sailed back from a voyage from Batavia , now Jakarta . He named the reef after the British Admiral Sir Charles Theodore Middleton .

The first ship to run aground and sink on Elizabeth Reef was a 300-ton ship, the Britannia, which was en route from California to Sydney in 1806. Between 1806 and 1972, another 32 ships sank there, of which it became known, 17 on Middleton Reef and 13 on Elizabeth Reef; possibly even 90 ships.

Marine fauna

307 species of fish have been discovered on the reefs so far, including the spotted giant grouper ( Epinephelus daemelli ) and the dark giant grouper ( Epinephelus lanceolatus ); Approximately 450 species are expected. Green turtles come to the reefs to feed and rest, no breeding has been detected. Numerous protected seabirds could be seen feeding on the island.

In a study 122 coral species were found on the reefs, a larger number than on Lord Howe Island with 57 species.

74 echinoderms , including the crown-of-thorn starfish and over 120 species of crustaceans (including crabs , lobsters and barnacles ) were counted; However, estimates also amount to around 500 species.

266 species of bivalve molluscs , squid , octopus , cuttlefish and shellfish were found, nine of which are found only in the area of ​​the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Park , Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. Three species of mussels that have been discovered are previously unknown to science.

Web links

  • deh.gov.au : Information on the protected area (English)

Individual evidence

  1. International Hydrographic Organization (1953): Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition (PDF; 994 kB), p. 37. Retrieved on February 7, 2010
  2. a b environment.gov.au ( Memento of the original from June 3, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. : Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve , in English, accessed August 22, 2011  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.environment.gov.au

Coordinates: 29 ° 28 ′ 20 ″  S , 159 ° 7 ′ 10 ″  E