Fish swarm a shipwreck in Australian waters of the Coral Sea, which is set to become the site of the world's largest marine reserve, the Australian government announced Friday. (Related: "Top Ten Watery Wonders.")
East of the Great Barrier Reef (pictures), the proposed Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve would cover about 385,000 square miles (just under a million square kilometers)—bigger than France and Germany combined.
The park would encompass remote coral reefs, ancient sponge gardens, deep-sea canyons, and submerged volcanoes in the Coral Sea-among the last places where ocean giants like sharks, tuna, and billfishes can be seen in large numbers.
"The Coral Sea harbors high biodiversity and relatively healthy ecosystems," said National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala by email. "This makes the Coral Sea a unique large ecosystem with an irreplaceable value globally."
(The Society owns National Geographic News.)