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New Caledonia Barrier Reef

November 24, 2012 by staff 

New Caledonia Barrier Reef, The New Caledonia Barrier Reef is located in New Caledonia in the South Pacific, and is the second-longest double-barrier coral reef in the world, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The New Caledonia Barrier reef surrounds Grande Terre, New Caledonia’s largest island, as well as the Ile des Pins and several smaller islands, reaching a length of 1,500 kilometers (930 mi). The reef encloses a lagoon of 24,000 square kilometers (9,300 sq mi), which has an average depth of 25 meters (82 ft).

The reefs lie up to 30 kilometers (19 mi) from the shore, but extend almost 200 kilometers (120 mi) to the Entrecasteaux reefs in the northwest. This northwestern extension encloses the Belep Islands and other sand cays. Several natural passages open out to the ocean. The Boulari passage, which leads to Noumea, the capital and chief port of New Caledonia, is marked by the Amédée lighthouse.

The reef has great species diversity with a high level of endemism, and is home to endangered dugongs (Dugong dugon), and is an important nesting site for green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Most of the reefs are generally thought to be in good health. Some of the eastern reefs have been damaged by effluent from nickel mining on Grand Terre. Sedimentation from mining, agriculture, and grazing has affected reefs near river mouths, which has been worsened by the destruction of mangrove forests, which help to retain sediment. Some reefs have been buried under several meters of silt.

In the lagoons of New Caledonia there are many water species ranging from plankton to larger fish and even sharks.

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