Double the size of Texas and triple the size of Germany, New Caledonia’s recently established Le Parc Naturel de la Mer De Corail (The Natural Park of the Coral Sea), has been named the world’s largest marine park. Established just two weeks ago, it is the largest existing protected area – both on land and sea – at a staggering 1,300,000sqkm.
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Besides its massive size, the oceanic sanctuary in the South Pacific is home to a vast array of marine life, hosting 48 different shark species, 25 mammal species, 19 nesting bird species and five sea turtle species, including the endangered green turtle. Its ocean floors are illuminated with more than 1.1 million acres of the vibrant coral reefs that give the sea its name, and its waters provide 3,000 tons of fish to New Caledonia’s inhabitants.
New Caledonia is no stranger to record-breaking sites. Located about 3,000km east of Australia, the remote French territory is home to the Grand Lagon Sud, the world’s biggest lagoon and a Unesco World Heritage Site, as well as to the world’s second largest double-barrier reef, after the one in Australia.
But besides these awe-inspiring locations, New Caledonia also has some of the richest biodiversity on Earth, which is why its government and conservation experts are taking measures to protect the natural treasure before there is a serious threat.
Currently, illegal fishing is the only concern, but potential increases in ship traffic from Queensland, Australia, and the continuance of deep-sea oil mining could harm the aquatic park in the future. Over the next three years, the park will be separated into zones, some of which will be open to economic activities like fishing and tourist activities like snorkeling and swimming.
The park’s preservation marks a historic moment in marine conservation and adds another wondrous site to New Caledonia, making this the perfect time to plan your next South Pacific adventure.