Scott and Seringapatam Reefs

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Scott and Seringapatam Reefs
Image of Scott and Seringapatam Reefs taken from spacecraft at 359 km altitude on 29 November 1996.
Scott and Seringapatam Reefs from STS-80 at 359 km (223 mi) altitude on 29 November 1996.
Scott and Seringapatam Reefs are off the northwest coast of Australia.
LocationIndian Ocean
Coordinates14°3′S 121°46′E / 14.050°S 121.767°E / -14.050; 121.767Coordinates: 14°3′S 121°46′E / 14.050°S 121.767°E / -14.050; 121.767
StateWestern Australia
ReefScott and Seringapatam
Additional information
Time zone

Scott and Seringapatam Reefs is a group of atoll-like reefs in the Timor Sea more than 300 kilometres (190 mi) northwest of Cape Leveque, Western Australia, on the edge of the continental shelf.[1][2] There are three or four separate reef structures, depending on whether Scott Reef Central is counted separately.

The group is just one of a number of reef formations off the northwest coast of Australia and belongs to Western Australia. Further to the northeast are Ashmore and Cartier Islands, and to the southwest are the Rowley Shoals. However, Scott Reef is the most extensively affected of these by the worst coral bleaching in northern Australian waters in recent history. This coral bleaching occurred in the southern hemisphere summer period of 2015, following coral bleaching in 1998 during which “up to 80 per cent of Scott Reef died” but from which the reef did recover in the subsequent 10–15 years.[3] Nevertheless, given continuing and measurable climate change and the “direct correlation between increased temperatures and coral bleaching”, the consequent increasing frequency of coral bleaching warrants concern that Scott Reef may not recover and survive.[3]

Location and Description[edit]

Each of the reefs rises steeply from the seabed 400–500 metres (1,300–1,600 ft) below. Much of the reef area dries at low tide, but besides Sandy Islet of Scott Reef South, there are only a few rocks and sandbanks above the high water mark.

  • Scott Reef South (also Horseshoe Reef or South Reef) is a large crescent-shaped formation that has a rare and unusual double reef crest. Its lagoon, has depths of over 24 m (79 ft) throughout the greater portion. The reef with its lagoon covers an area of 144 km2 (56 sq mi).
  • Scott Reef Central, because of its proximity occasionally subsumed within Scott Reef South, lies off West Hook (the western extremity of the crescent of Scott Reef South), with Sandy Islet at 14°03′S 121°46′E / 14.050°S 121.767°E / -14.050; 121.767 (690 metres (2,260 ft) north-south, up to 110 metres (360 ft) wide, with an area of 9 hectares (22 acres)). This reef falls dry to the extent of 0.8–1.6 km (0.50–0.99 mi) from the islet. There is a conspicuous tower on the islet and also a boulder with a height 2.4 m near its northern end. A detached reef, which dries 0.6 m (2 ft 0 in), lies 2.4 km (1.5 mi) northeast of Sandy Islet. The passage between Scott Reef South and Scott Reef Central is only 33 m (108 ft) deep, much less than the passages between the other reefs (366 m (1,201 ft) between Scott Reef South and Scott Reef North).
  • Scott Reef North consists of a large, approximately circular-shaped, reef lying 23 km (14 mi) southwest of Seringapatam Reef. The reef is composed of a narrow reef-crest that is backed by broad reef flats — much of which becomes exposed at low tide — and a deep central lagoon that is connected to the open sea by two delta-like channels. The reef with its lagoon covers an area of 106 km2 (41 sq mi).
  • Seringapatam Reef is located at 13°40′S 122°05′E / 13.667°S 122.083°E / -13.667; 122.083, 23 km (14 mi) north of Scott Reef North. It is an egg-shaped reef, with a total area of approximately 50 km2 (19 sq mi), which is about evenly divided between lagoon and reef flat. Its narrow reef rim encloses a relatively deep lagoon. Much of the reef becomes exposed at low tide. There are large boulders around its edges, with a few sandbanks, which rise about 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) above the water, on the west side. Seringapatam Reef covers an area of 55 km2 (21 sq mi) (including the central lagoon). Captain Edwin Courtenay of Seringapatam was on a whaling voyage when he discovered the reef on 23 August 1839. He named the reef for his ship.[4]

Browse Basin Liquefied Natural Gas Development[edit]

Browse LNG was a major[5] liquefied natural gas (LNG) project being developed by Woodside Petroleum, and included the Torosa gas field which lies underneath Scott Reef South and Scott Reef North.[6]


  1. ^ Gilmour, James; Smith, Luke; Cook, Kylie; Pincock, Stephen (2013). Discovering Scott Reef: 20 years of exploration and research (PDF). Perth, Western Australia: Woodside, Australian Institute of Marine Science. ISBN 9780642322654. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  2. ^ Allen, Gerald R.; Russell, Barry C. (1986). "Faunal Surveys of the Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef and Seringapatam Reef, North-Western Australia: Fishes" (PDF). Western Australian Museum Records and Supplements. 25: 75–103. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b Allan-Petale, David (20 October 2016). "Scientists alarmed over massive coral bleaching of key WA reef systems". WAToday. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  4. ^ Nautical Magazine, Volume 11, pp.341-3.
  5. ^ Browse LNG Development Fact Sheet Archived 2008-08-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Reuters (12 April 2013). "Woodside Petroleum Cancels Onshore L.N.G. Project in Australia". New York Times. Retrieved 2 December 2018.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Berry, P.F. Ed. (1986) Faunal surveys of the Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef, and Seringapatam Reef, North-western Australia Perth, W.A. : Western Australian Museum, Records of the Western Australian Museum. Supplement, 0313-122X ; no. 25. ISBN 0-7309-0340-0