Sea Shepherd sets sail to the Great Australian Bight

The Great Australia Bight is home to the blue humpback whale. (Photo – ABC Open: Anne Powell)

There are beautiful places worth saving. The Sea Shepherd had set sail for the Great Australian Bight for the first time in August 2016 and the ocean conservation group found places like Nuyts Reef, Isles of St Francis, the Bunda Cliffs, the Head of Bight and the Pearson Islands.

The group said it discovered one of the world’s best kept secrets –  rich in biodiversity. The Bight is home to Blue, Minke, Fin and Humpback whales, and is one of the planet’s most significant Southern Right whale nurseries, Sea Shepherd Australia’s Managing Director Jeff Hansen said.

 

Many fish species like the critically-endangered Southern Blue Fin tuna, Great White shark, Mako shark, seals, dolphins and penguins are in abundance in the Bight. It is truly alive; a place that is rare, unique and globally significant, with many of the off-shore islands on par with the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Galapagos Islands.

 

Sea Shepherd had launched Operation Jeedara that showcased a truly remarkable place – one of Mother Nature’s greatest and grandest shows on Earth. The operation sent BP and Chevron to pull out of their oil drilling activities from the Bight.

Southern bluefin tuna circling inside a transport net. (Photo: Greenpeace/AAP)

 Sea Shepherd’s M/Y Steve Irwin is again aiming to set sail to the Bight with its international crews in March this year, but it needs funds to complete an engine overhaul.

 

Hansen said the crew will take cameras below the waves to reveal more secrets from this natural wonderland. “We’ll explore and document the incredible wilderness that lies protected by the boundaries of the Pearson Islands Sanctuary Zone, the Nuyts Archipelago, and the Bunda Cliffs Sanctuary Zone,” he added.

The bight is also a home to seals. (Photo: Australia.com)

At the completion of the Bight expedition, the M/Y Steve Irwin and crew will set their sights on the Adani coal mine on Operation Reef Defence.

 

“From everyone here at Sea Shepherd, thank-you for your help to get our flagship, the M/Y Steve Irwin back on the water.  We have some way to go but with your continued support we will be on our way to the Great Australian Bight,” Jeff said.
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Great Australian Bight at risk with BP’s oil project

An aerial view of the Great Australian Bight.

An aerial view of the Great Australian Bight.

Conservation groups have been waging war against oil drilling into the vast underwater of the Great Australian Bight located in the Southern Sea, and it may take political will to stop BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd from its oil exploration project in the area once and for all.

South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young announced last week she will introduce a Bill to the Senate that seeks to protect the Great Australian Bight marine park from companies wanting to drill for oil and gas.

Senator Hanson-Young said Parliament needs to intervene and stop several other companies lining up to drill the underground of the marine park. She noted a marine park is useless if it is not protected from exploitation, citing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as one example of such risk.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has already advised BP that it will be taking additional time to assess the company’s environment plan proposing the drilling of the Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight. NOPSEMA will deliver its next assessment decision for the plan by Sept 29.

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“This precious marine ecosystem and numerous local industries, including fisheries and eco-tourism operators, deserve to be protected,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“The Bight is an essential sanctuary for southern right whales and a feeding ground for threatened sea lions, sharks, tuna and migratory sperm whales.”

The Great Australian Bight Alliance, composed of various environmental and civic groups, has been actively campaigning to stop BP. Last month, a series of events were held led by Sea Shepherd’s flagship vessel Steve Irwin which departed from Melbourne and sailed for the Great Australian Bight. This was a part of its Operation Jeedara.

Operation Jeedara showcases the treasures of the Great Australian Bight and exposes the threats to a wilderness of global significance. Much of the landscape and diversity of life in the Great Australian Bight is unknown to the world. The Sea Shepherd showed what is at risk if BP were allowed to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight .

The Great Australian Bight Alliance set up campaign events against BP. (Photo: Sea Shepherd South Australia)

The Great Australian Bight Alliance set up campaign events against BP. (Photo: Sea Shepherd South Australia)

The expedition covered the Nuyts Reef, the Isles of St Francis, Pearson Island, areas around Kangaroo Island and the Coorong Coast, to the iconic Bunda Cliffs of the Nullarbor Plain.

“The Bight is an utterly inappropriate place to be pushing to expand the oil industry. We must rapidly transition away from fossil fuels to have any chance of a livable climate into the future” said Wilderness Society South Australia Director Peter Owen.

Related related story HERE.

Australian environmentalist, Dr Bob Brown, has joined and supported the campaign. Greenpeace Australia Pacific is also supporting the cause and has launched its own campaign.

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