Islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia – November 12th, 2008
In our main image we can see various clusters of islands and an algal bloom near the western coast of Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria.
The largest island, featured in the first close-up, is called Groote Eylandt. It is the biggest island in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Groote Eylandt lies approximately 50 km from the Northern Territory mainland and eastern coast of Arnhem Land (approximately 630 km from Darwin). The island measures approximately 50 km from east to west and 60 km north—south, a total area of some 2,260 km². It is generally quite low-lying, with an average height above sea level of 15 m.
This island is the homeland of, and is owned by, the Anindilyakwa people (who still speak the isolated Anindilyakwa language). It is part of the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve. The island has until recently been open to the public only with permission. There is, however, a large manganese mine near the community of Angurugu, which produces more than 3.8 million tonnes annually (about 25 percent of the world’s total).
The island between Groote Eylandt and the Australian mainland is Bickerton Island. It is situated 13 km west of Groote Eylandt and 8 km east of mainland Australia, in the Northern Territory. A small aboriginal community of about 140 people lives on this island.
Other islands around Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island include Winchelsea Island, Connexion Island, Hawknest Island, Nicol Island and North Point Island.
Moving southeast along the coastline, there is another cluster of islands, known as the Sir Edward Pellew Group. The largest of these is Vanderlin Island, with an area of 264 km². The others in the group are East Island, Centre Island and West Island.
In the second close-up, we can see an algal bloom off the southern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, near Maria Island, as well as sediments flowing into the gulf from the Roper River, which marks the southern limit of the rugged region known as Arnhem Land. The Roper River drains an area of 23,500 square miles (60,860 square km). Its flow increases greatly during the summer.