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.
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