The Coral Sea Islands are located off the northwestern coast of Australia. They are uninhabited and thus are a site of great natural significance. Much of the area is a nature reserve for conservation, and they are home to many unique types of animals.
Interestingly, there are no known terrestrial animals in the islands. Black Rats, which had been introduced from trading ships, were eradicated by 1991. Now, the only animals found there are birds, fish, and other sea creatures.
One of the ways the islands are used by animals is as a nesting site for Green Turtles. These large sea turtles can live to eighty in the wild, and they are found throughout tropical regions around the world, in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The turtles will migrate long distances to nest. When this occurs, female turtles will crawl from the ocean up onto the beaches at night and dig nests in the sand. They lay their eggs there and burry them. Once the baby turtles have hatched, they make the return journey at night, crossing the beach and heading back into the ocean.
As the name suggests, the islands are surrounded by coral reefs, so they are home to many types of fish and crustaceans, including varieties of shrimp and lobsters.
The islands are also used as a migration and breeding site for birds. The Purple Swamphen and Buff-banded Rail are the only known land birds who breed on the islands, but many seabirds, including frigatebirds and boobies, have also been seen on the islands.
Since there are no people living in the islands, the species are well protected. Tourism is carefully regulated, so people can visit the islands and take advantage of the excellent snorkeling and bird watching opportunities without disrupting the environment.
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