Arafura Sea

The shallow sea of the western Pacific Ocean, covering 250,000 square miles (650,000 square km) between the north coast of Australia (Gulf of Carpentaria) and the south coast of New Guinea, is the Arafura Sea (or Arafuru Sea). It is bordered by the Strait of Torres and the Coral Sea to the east, the Gulf of Carpentaria to the south, the Sea of Timor to the west, and the Seas of Banda and Ceram to the northwest. The Arafura Shelf, part of the more extensive Sahul Shelf, underlays much of the Arafura Sea. With depths of 165 to 260 feet (50 to 80 meters), it is typically shallow, deepening at its western side, where coral reefs have developed at depths of almost 2,000 feet (610 meters).

The Arafura Sea is 1,290 kilometers (800 mi) long and 560 kilometers (350 mi) wide. The profundity of the ocean is for the most part 50–80 m (160–260 ft), with the profundity expanding toward the west. The Arafura Shelf seems to have been a low-alleviation land surface that had a bone-dry atmosphere before it got immersed by the postglacial ascent of the sea. Over the Arafura Shelf, part of the Sahul Shelf lies the sea. During the last glacial maximum, when sea levels were low, the Arafura Shelf, the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the Torres Strait created a broad flat land bridge linking Australia and New Guinea, easing human migration from Asia to Australia.

(Arafura Sea)

The Aru Islands in the north, framed by limited elevate, fringe the Aru Trough, a bending channel that arrives at the greatest profundity of 12,000 feet (3,660 meters). The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) characterizes the Arafura Sea as being one of the waters of the East Indian Archipelago. The name Arafura has been suggested to be of Portuguese origin, a corruption of the word “Alfours”, meaning “free men”, but recent research at the Dutch National Archives has shown that the 1939 Toponymic Dictionary of AJ van der Aa records “the inhabitants of the Moluccas called themselves “haraforas”, translating “Anak anak gunung” as “children of the mountains.”

Arafura Marine Park is around 250 kilometers north-east of Darwin. The marine park covers 22,924 square kilometers, with profundities from under 15 meters to 500 meters. The marine park adjoins Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone limit close to Indonesia, with which Australia has marked a Joint Declaration on Maritime Cooperation. The name of the Arafura Sea is derived from the indigenous name for the “mountain people” in the Moluccas (part of Indonesia) as described in the 1830s by Dutch Lieutenants Kolff and Modera. The trough is part of a chain of depressions that stretches west like the Java Trench in the Indian Ocean, underlying the Ceram, Arafura, and Timor seas.

The Arafura Sea, in particular for shrimp and demersal fishing, is a rich fishing resource. Barramundi, grouper, Penaeid shrimp, Nemipteridae carp, among other fish groups, are economically valuable species. Includes aquatic life found here:

  • Spanish mackerel
  • Whale sharks
  • Sawfishes
  • Marine turtles
  • Deep-sea sponges

(Underwater view at Arafura Sea)

In this present reality where marine environments and fish stocks are by and large falling, the Arafura Sea stands apart as among the most extravagant marine fisheries on the planet. Notwithstanding, the Arafura is going under always extreme weight from unlawful, unreported, and unregulated fishing exercises. A notoriously hazardous ship passage is the Torres Strait, and the Arafura Sea itself includes many uncharted shoals that are navigational hazards. A small yet persistent harvest of pearls has resulted from the safe and clear waters around the Aru Islands.

 

Information Sources:

  1. parksaustralia.gov.au
  2. britannica.com
  3. wikipedia