Lake Arafura

Lake Arafura is a shallower part of the Pacific Ocean that lies between Lake Timor and the Coral Sea. This part of the sea separates New Guinea and Australia. The name Arafura is believed to have Portuguese roots and is said to be a development of the word alfours which means free men. However, there is another theory that has to do with the Molucca Islands. Namely, it was the case that the inhabitants of these islands used to call themselves haraforas which means children of the mountains. This name is also close to the word Arafura so maybe the name of the lake comes from these islands.

Lake Arafurasjön has a maximum length of 1,290 km and a maximum width of 560 km. In the lake there are islands such as the Aru Islands, the Croker Islands, the Goulburn Islands and Howard Island. The sea part is above the Arafura shelf which is part of the Sahul shelf.


Lake Arafura is bounded by the Strait of Torres, a major sea strait between Australia and New Guinea. Via this strait, Lake Arafura is connected to the Coral Sea in the east. The coral sea is a so-called striped sea that is also part of the Pacific Ocean. To the south, Lake Arafura is bounded by Carpentaria Bay and to the west and northwest by Lake Timor and Lake Banda and Ceram. The depth of this part of the sea is between 50-80 meters. It gets deeper the further west you go. Researchers believe that the Torres Strait once formed a land bridge between New Guinea and Australia, which facilitated migration from Asia to Australia. This is a good explanation for how the indigenous people of Australia once came here. As this is a tropical sea, there are often tropical cyclones in the area.

Fishing in Lake Arafura

This is a sub-ocean that is rich in fish and with a marine ecological system that feels good. Many of the communities in and around Lake Arafura rely on fishing, which is largely demersal shellfish fishing. In recent years, illegal fishing in the sea has become increasingly common and this poses a threat to all the communities that live off the daily catch. To promote sustainable fishing in the area, the Timor Seas Expert Forum (ATSEF) was created in 2002. The goal of this forum is to succeed in creating fisheries that are sustainable both environmentally and economically, and this is an important step towards preserving the unique environment.

Lake Arafura