New Caledonia Barrier Reef | WWF

New Caledonia Barrier Reef

About the Area

New Caledonia's marine waters harbour the second longest double barrier reef in the world, which reaches a length of 1,500 kilometers.
This barrier reef is of outstanding biogeographical interest and serves as a regional center of endemism in the south pacific.

Much of the enormous species diversity in New Caledonia is yet unclassified as new species of fish and invertebrates are being discovered regularly.

The reefs provide one of the main nesting sites for the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), and house several rare crab and endemic mollusk species.

Local Species
Fish diversity is high with at least 1,000 species documented. These fish include the endemic Sea bass (Luzonichthys williamsi) and numerous species within the families Labridae, Pomacentridae, Gobidae, Serrandiae, Chaetodontidae, and Apogonidae.

Major commercial fish include representatives from the families of Serranidae, Lutjanidae, Lethrinidae, Mullidae, and Labridae.

New species of fish and invertebrates are being documented, including a new species of an extremely rare amphipod (Didymochelia ledoyerisp), and a palaemonine shrimp (Brachycarpus crosnieri).

Other species of interest include the dugong (Dugong dugon), a diverse population of water striders (Xenobates spp. and Halovelia spp.), two species of giant clams (Tridacna gigas and Hippopus hippopus), over 600 species of sponges, 5,500 species of mollusks, 5,000 species of crustaceans, and over 350 species of algae.

Twenty-three known species of marine birds breed here, including the Red-footed booby (Sula sula), Sooty tern (Sterna fuscata), Lesser noddy (Anous tenuirostris), and Brown noddy (A. stolidus). Marine turtles include Green turtles (Chelonic mydas), Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), Loggerhead turtles (Carettta caretta), and Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coricea).

The great majority of coral reefs are reported to be in good health, with the exception of the eastern reefs. Main threats come from:
  • Intensified erosion during cyclone flood surges due to nickel mining and bush fires.
  • Heavy sedimentation in lagoon areas due to destruction of sediment-retaining mangroves; some reefs have been buried under more than 8 meters of silt.
  • Coastal development (e.g., infilling and construction work on reef flats and mangroves), industrial, domestic, and marine pollution related to shipping, and the use of TBT (tributyl-tin) anti-fouling paints (banned in Europe).
  • Loss of coastal habitats and spawning areas (e.g., seagrass beds and fringing reefs) for marine fish and invertebrates.
  • Hyper sedimentation and eutrophication from aquaculture, overfishing for aquarium trade, commercial, recreational, and subsistence purposes.
  • Small-scale infestations of the coral-feeding crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci), overexploitation of sea cucumbers and trochus shells (collected for export), and collection of marine organisms - some rare endemic species such as Cymbiolacca thatcheri and Lyria grangei may be in danger of extinction.


Habitat type:
Tropical Coral

Geographic Location:
Southwest Pacific Ocean

Conservation Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact

Did You Know!

The Loyalty Islands off New Caledonia are made up of coral. The low plateaus of the islands lack any surface water because the coral formation is so porous.

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