The Torres Strait lies between Australia and the Melanesian island of New Guinea. To the south of the Strait is the Cape York Peninsula which is the northernmost continental extremity of the Australian state of Queensland and to its north is the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. There are also several clusters of islands within the Strait, collectively known as the Torres Strait Islands. It is reported that there are at least 274 of these islands, and 17 of which have present-day permanent settlements with over 6,800 inhabitants.
The Strait connects the Coral Sea to the east with the Arafura Sea and Gulf of Carpentaria in the west and it is approximately 150 kilometres wide at its narrowest point. Despite being an important international sea lane, it is very shallow, with a depth of 7 to 15 metres and the network of reefs and islands, as well as strong tidal currents can make it perilous to navigate. Ships enter the Torres Strait through the Adolphus Channel which connects to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon to the south-east.
There are around 580 coral reefs in the Strait, including the Warrior Reefs and Eastern Patch Reefs, which cover a total area of 2,400 square kilometres in the region, as well as some of the most widespread seagrass beds in the world.