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Pulu Keeling National Park

Pulu Keeling Island

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Pulu Keeling National Park / Cocos (Keeling) Islands Group

Nudibranchs and Flatworms © Cocos Dive

Pulu Keeling is one of the islands in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands group. Located about 2,768 km north-west of Perth, the island atoll represents one of the best example of the original vegetation typical to the Cocos Islands.

Globally threatened species occurring at the site include the turtles (Chelonia mydas) and (Eretmochelys imbricata), and the Cocos Buff-Banded Rail (Rallus philippensis andrewsi), both are threatened globally and endemic. The Cocos subspecies of pandanus (Pandanus tectorius) is considered endemic, as well. The Cocos Islands were the only coral islands visited by Charles Darwin in 1836 and would have witnessed on Pulu Keeling the tall forest of Pisonia (Pisonia grandis), stands of coconut and ironwood (Cordia subcordata).

The endangered turtle (Chelonia mydas) are found nesting mainly to the north-western and southern beaches of Pulu Keeling.

There have been recorded 25 bird species, 17 of which use the atoll for nesting. Pulu Keeling also has one of the few significant rookeries left in the world for the red-footed booby (Sula sula). Other species include terns (Gygis alba and Sterna fuscata), boobies (Sula dactylatra and S. leucogaster), frigate birds (Fregata ariel and F. minor), noddy (Anous stolidus), and tropic birds (Phaethon rubricauda and P. lepturus).

Nudibranchs and Flatworms © Cocos DiveThe Land Crab (Cardisoma carnifex) are also found all over the islands, particularly in the saltmarsh and on the fringes of the lagoon. The Giant Robber Crab (Birgus latro), considered vulnerable to extinction internationally, inhabit the Pisonia forest floor. The Little Nipper (Geograpsus grayi) is common in the Pisonia forest. There are also three species of hermit crabs, the Red Hermit Crab (Coenobita perlata), the Purple Hermit Crab (C. brevimana) and the Tawny Hermit Crab (C. rugosa). Other crabs include the Yellow Nippers (Geograpsus crinipes), the Red Crab (Gecarcoidea natalis), the Horn-Eyed Ghost Crab (Ocypode ceratophthalma) and the Grapsus (Grapsus tenuicrustatis).

Over 520 species of fish are recorded in the Cocos Islands region, of which about 175 are lagoon species.

Cocos Islands also played a significant role during World War II, as a base for Australian forces. Pulu Keeling was the site of the grounding of the German battleship ‘Emden’ after its confrontation with the ‘HMAS Sydney’ during World War I. The wreck of the ‘SMS Emden’ is protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.


Source: Parks Australia - Cocos (Keeling) Islands - Pulu Keeling National Park

Ramsar Sites Database - Wetlands International - Australia 5AU046

Images © Cocos Dive

Information Centre

Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM)
PO Box 62, CERVANTES WA 6511
Ph: 096 527 043
Fax: 096 527 340

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