Moreton Bay is a site of great historical importance, having been the site of conflict between the Quandamooka people and the first European settlers. It is also an ecologically significant habitat, with vast areas of sandbanks and being the only place in Australia where dugongs congregate in packs. Many parts of the mainland beach and the southern islands are inhabited. Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) is situated off the coast of southeastern Queensland, Australia, 58 kilometers (36 miles) northeast of the capital city of Brisbane.
It is the third largest sand island in the world and, along with Fraser Island, forms the largest sand structure on Earth. It was traditionally home to the Ngugi people before European colonization. In 1770, British navigator James Cook sailed through the South Passage between the main coastal islands that lead to Moreton Bay, which he named after James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton. The bay is also home to Tangalooma, a site chosen for its relative protection, access to fresh water and proximity to Brisbane and the humpback whale migratory route near Cape Moreton. Burnett, a surveyor aboard the reconnaissance vessel Bramble, mapped out the northern sandbanks and passage out of Moreton Bay. This bay is also home to the Port of Brisbane, with its main shipping channel running between Bribie and Moreton Islands.
In 1823, John Oxley explored Moreton Bay and established a penal colony in Redcliffe. In 1966, 98% of Moreton Island was declared a National Park under category II of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Shirley and Neville lived on Moreton Island for many years, running a shop and ferry service and transporting materials during cyclones and floods. Cook had not been able to determine its island status as he did not enter through Cape Moreton. Moreton Bay is an area of great historical importance that has been home to many people over time. It is an ecologically important habitat that provides a home for many species of wildlife.
The bay is also home to many settlements and businesses that have been established over time.