Fight for the Great Australian Bight

22 Oct 2015 3

Brinkley Davies

Coastalwatch Marine Biologist

Imagine this covered in oil! Photo by Brinkley Davies

Imagine this covered in oil! Photo by Brinkley Davies

Presented by Reef

Brinkley Davies is a Marine Biologist and surfer who lives on the Eyre Penninsula.

You get home from work and drive to your local, you put your wetsuit on and paddle out the back, only to see your best mates sitting out there, getting glassy barrels in the afternoon sun, you have to dodge a pod of bottlenose dolphins as you duck dive a set on the way out. Now, imagine your life without that.

Actually... Imagine your life without having the option to surf or even be in the ocean, not ever being able to see a dolphin, a sea lion, turtle or any fish, ever again.

Unfortunately, the risk of this happening in South Australia is becoming more and more likely. South Australia boasts some of the most incredible coastal scenery in the entire world, 200ft cliffs give an unrivalled outline to a vast and vibrant ocean. It is a land with majority untouched by the greedy hands of the human race, one of the rarest qualities left on this earth, and it is where I call home.

British Petroleum (BP) have put in proposals to start deep-sea oil drilling, and turn the Great Australian Bight into an oil field, with a record like theirs, the risk of a spill in our waters, is from what we know, high.

BP are responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, oil was discharged into the sea for 87 days resulting in 4.9 million barrels of oil being poured into the oceans. Local fisheries, innumerable marine organisms, the tourism industry and local communities were completely devastated. The clean up efforts and costs from this spill are still rising.

SEE ALSO: Japan Expected To Recommence Killing Of Whales In December

Oil spill risk to the coast, Graphic from The Wilderness Society

Oil spill risk to the coast, Graphic from The Wilderness Society

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BP have not yet allowed for their oil spill modelling plans to be seen, which is of enormous concern. Because our region is more remote, with less infrastructure available that would be needed in the emergency of a spill, the outcome could be much more catastrophic if it occurs here, in South Australia.

On top of the lack of materials, we have rough and unpredictable weather systems, strong wind and currents, and shallow Gulf waters, which means that a spill could affect vast distances of ocean, and take longer to recover, if at all.

The Great Australian Bight is home to one of the largest breeding populations of the endangered Southern Right Whale, these incredibly beautiful baleen whales travel from the frigid waters of the Antarctic to breed, rest and give birth to their young.

The ocean itself in this part of the world is unique. Because of upwelling occurrences during the summer and autumn months, cooler areas of water surface along the coast of the Southern Eyre Peninsula. These cooler areas of water contain superior nutrient concentrations, which support enhanced levels of primary productivity.

Zooplankton rise in high densities to the north-west of these areas, which have indicated that the dominant south easterly winds transport the nutrients in these cooler areas, into the epicenter of the G.A.B, resulting in elevated biological production.

These plankton communities support the highest densities of small planktivorous fishes, in Australian waters, which include sardines and anchovies, Southern Bluefin Tuna, which are now critically endangered from overfishing and exploitation from the 1950’s, migrate annually to feed on these rich pelagic resources.

SEE ALSO: What Is The Search?

The open beauty of an untouched coastline, Photo by Paul Whibley @wibz1

The open beauty of an untouched coastline, Photo by Paul Whibley @wibz1

Port Lincoln, the biggest commercial fishing town in Australia, hosts tens of thousands of jobs for the local community.

Aside from tuna, various other species are fished, and farmed here on the Eyre Peninsula; this fishing industry is what has brought the wealthy economy to this region.

The only place in Australia to dive with Great White Sharks is also located in the threatened region, the Neptune Islands, hosting some of the largest New Zealand Fur Seal colonies in the world. Not far from the mainland in Port Lincoln, in what is called the Passage, a group of islands host crucial breeding, feeding, and pupping grounds for colonies of Australian Sea Lions, which are also an endangered species.

Are we ready to lose all of this? I won't give up the fight for our home, our wildlife, and our beautiful communities, and I think as Australians we need to speak up against these greedy proposals to destroy some of the most naturally beautiful reasons we love to call Australia home.

Have your say, write to the authorities, and sign the petition.

The crystal blues of the Great Australian Bight, Photo by Paul Whibley @wibz1

The crystal blues of the Great Australian Bight, Photo by Paul Whibley @wibz1

Tags: brinkley , davies , reef , great , australian , bite (create Alert from these tags)

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