Lake Kutubu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Lake Kutubu
Clouds over Lake Kutubu.jpg
Location Nipa-Kutubu District,
Southern Highlands Province
Coordinates 6°24′S 143°20′E / 6.400°S 143.333°E / -6.400; 143.333Coordinates: 6°24′S 143°20′E / 6.400°S 143.333°E / -6.400; 143.333
Primary inflows underground sources, several streams, largest is Hamua Creek
Primary outflows Soro River
Catchment area 250 km2 (97 sq mi)
Basin countries Papua New Guinea
Max. length 19 km (12 mi)
Max. width 4.5 km (2.8 mi)
Surface area 49.24 km2 (19.01 sq mi)
Max. depth 70 m (230 ft)
Surface elevation 808 m (2,651 ft)
Settlements Lake Kutubu
Designated September 22, 1998[1]

Lake Kutubu is a lake in the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. It lies to the east of the Kikori River, into which it eventually drains. It is about 50 km southwest of Mendi, the provincial capital. It is one of the few lakes in the country that occurs in a depression in the rugged interior mountains.[2] It is the second-largest lake in Papua New Guinea,[3] after Lake Murray, and, at 800 m above sea level,[3] the largest upland lake.[4] The area of the lake is 49.24 km²,[3] while the total catchment area is 250 km².[4] Lake Kutubu and Lake Sentani form an ecoregion on the WWF's Global 200.[5]

The lake has a few islands, the largest of which is Wasemi Island in its northern part. The water of Lake Kutubu is clear, and the lake reaches a depth of 70 m (230 feet). It is fed by several streams, most of its contents come from underground sources.[5] The catchment is inhabited by two main ethnic groups, the Foe to the south and the Fasu to the north. Thirty-three villages lie in the catchment area, with a total estimated population of 10,885.[4]

The lake gave its name to the nearby Kutubu Oil Project, Papua New Guinea's first commercial oilfield development, operated by Oil Search Limited, and which began production in 1992.[6] The development has supported the local economy, and caused a general in-migration to the area, and ecological problems resulting from rapid population growth, including pollution, forest destruction and overfishing. A proposed gas pipeline and road are expected to exacerbate these problems unless they are well-managed.[4]


Lake Kutubu includes 13 endemic fish species, making it the most unusual lacustrine habitat for fishes in the New Guinea-Australia region.[4] The endemic fish species are:[7][8]

Additionally, the Parastacid crayfish Cherax papuanus is endemic to the lake.[9]


Because of its biodiversity and ecological significance, the area has been designated a "Wetland of International Significance" by the Ramsar Convention.[3] The area included in this designation matches the Lake Kutubu Wildlife Management Area[3] (240.57 km²).[10] The area is undergoing study by the World Wildlife Fund and the drafting of a catchment management plan has commenced, which is anticipated to become a model for other catchments in Papua New Guinea.[11] The project is to be completed by December 2007.[12] The Lake Kutubu area is also included in the tentatively listed Kikori River Basin - Great Papuan Plateau World Heritage Site.[10]


  1. ^ "Ramsar List". Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Brian Essai. Papua and New Guinea: A Contemporary Survey. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1961. Page 21.
  3. ^ a b c d e Lake Kutubu at Ramsar site
  4. ^ a b c d e Pilot and Demonstration Activities: Integrated Catchment Management in Lake Kutubu, Papua New Guinea at Asian Development Bank website
  5. ^ a b Lakes Kutubu and Sentani at WWF
  6. ^ Kutubu on Oil Search Limited website
  7. ^ List taken from Lakes Kutubu and Sentani - A Global Ecoregion from the WWF, although it reports a figure of 11 species.
  8. ^ a b Polhemus, D.A., R.A. Englund, and G.R. Allen (2004). Freshwater Biotas of New Guinea and Nearby Islands: Analysis of Endemism. Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Conservation International
  9. ^ Austin, C.M. (2010). "Cherax papuanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  10. ^ a b Kikori River Basin - Great Papuan Plateau at World Heritage Sites tentative lists
  11. ^ Lake Kutubu Catchment Management Plan: Project Inception Report, page 3.
  12. ^ Lake Kutubu Catchment Management Plan: Project Inception Report, page 5

External links[edit]