- 14 December 2002
- 22:11 UTC
Of all the reefs in the Coral Sea that fall under Australian jurisdiction Mellish Reef is the most distant, being located 1,060 km east of the Queensland city of Cairns. Lihou Reef lies 385 km directly westwards and the outlying reefs of the French territory of New Caledonia are situated 730 km to the southeast.
Mellish Reef takes the form of an unusual boomerang-shaped platform around 10 km in length and 3 km across. The surrounding reefs, which enclose a narrow lagoon, are completely submerged or awash at high tide. Near the centre of the lagoon is the only permanent land of the reef — Heralds-Beacon Islet. The island is a small cay measuring 600 m by 120 m, only rising a few meters above the high water mark. It is composed largely of sand, shingle and coral rubble. In the north is a narrow and elongate drying sand bar.
image: earth sciences and image analysis laboratory, nasa johnson space center