Protected Species

Sixty-two nationally threatened and protected species are found in the Coral Sea.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle – © Michael Patrick O’Neill OceanwideImages.comHawksbill Sea Turtle – © Michael Patrick O’Neill OceanwideImages.comOne of them is the critically endangered Herald Petrel.  The Herald Petrel is known to occur on Raine Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It is also believed to occur on small sandy cays in the Coral Sea. The total number of breeding birds is estimated at 25. Its survival is highly precarious.

The blue whale (the world’s largest creature), the loggerhead turtle and the Olive Ridley turtle are all endangered species known to occur in the Coral Sea.

Loggerhead turtles migrate through the Coral Sea to their traditional nesting beaches on the Queensland coastline. They come from reefs scattered within a 2,500 km radius of these beaches – from eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.

Eight vulnerable species are found in the Coral Sea: four turtle, two whale and two shark species. Green turtles regularly nest on the pristine islets of the Coringa-Herald and Lihou Reef National Nature Reserves. The Hawksbill turtle uses these islets and reefs for foraging and occasionally for nesting. Leatherback and flatback turtles are also found moving through the Coral Sea.

Of the four other vulnerable species, two are notable: the Humpback whale which is recovering well along the eastern seaboard of Australia and the whale shark, the largest living fish. Whale sharks are well known off the northwest Australian coastline; it’s less well known that they also occur in the Coral Sea.

Thirty two migratory species are found in the Coral Sea, including 19 species of seabird. Twenty eight cetacean species are found in the Coral Sea including the charismatic dwarf minke whale. A minke whale dive watching industry is growing in the northern Great Barrier Reef and may one day extend to the Coral Sea. 

See below to view a list of the sixty-two nationally threatened and protected species found in the Coral Sea. The Coral Sea Marine Park will provide a safe haven for these species.

Protected Species