The Great Australian Bight – what does this mean ?
The Great Australian Bight is a vast and unspoilt ocean wilderness stretching along the coastline of South and Western Australia. Home to the endangered Australian sea lion and the critically endangered southern bluefin tuna. These are spectacular waters protect an astonishing diversity of marine life. You will not find 85% of Great Australian Bight marine life anywhere else on the globe.
The Head of the Bight along the South Australian coast plays a unique role as a whale sanctuary. It is the world’s largest breeding ground for the endangered southern right whale. These impressive creatures make the yearly trek from the Antarctic winter to this marine nursery to rest, breed and give birth. The 200-metre tall cliffs make for an excellent vantage point to watch these magnificent creatures and their young.
Threats on the Horizon
However, threats are underway to potentially destroy this finely balanced ecosystem. Most importantly, Norwegian oil giant Equinor has set its sights on the Great Australian Bight for the purpose of drilling oil and gas. Oil and gas drilling in water of this depth requires seismic blasts which can cause permanent hearing loss to whales. The consequences would be catastrophic. Hearing loss in whales leads to the loss of communication, the ability to find food and navigation.
Risks for the Great Ocean Road
The dangers of oil and gas drilling in the Great Australian Bight extend far beyond this stretch of coast. Oil spills present a real danger as the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico shows us. As a result, four million barrels of oil poured into the sea for 87 days, while the explosion killed 11 people. In addition, the public and environmental groups collected the bodies of over 4,000 animals. All of this happened within weeks of the oil well finally being capped. Can you imagine the devastating consequences to marine life, fisheries, tourism and local communities ?
The toll of a similar spill in the Great Australian Bight would be equally catastrophic. We predict an oil spill to reach as far west as Albany in Western Australia, and cover the entire coastlines of South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. It could affect beaches as far north as Sydney in New South Wales.
Support the Bight
Many initiatives have sprung up to protect the Great Australian Bight. The threats are too great. We cannot allow an oil and gas drilling project of this magnitude to be given the green light. Organisations like Greenpeace, the Wilderness Society and others have started campaigns to protect the Bight. Let’s fight for the area to be given World Heritage status.
In support of such initiatives, significant business development areas such as the Great Ocean Road only stand to benefit from such protection.
In addition, there are many groups along the Great Ocean Road that are doing wonderful work to reduce the rubbish that lands up in the sea. Every person can make a difference, and all the details on recycling are provided on the Surf Coast Shire website.
Protect Local Communities and Business
In conclusion, Australia is home to pristine waters and above all, it has fragile ecosystems. Examples of these are those found in the Great Australian Bight and along the Great Ocean Road. Visitors come from all over the world to these areas. Consequently, it is imperative to protect these environments. We need to ensure the next generations are able to enjoy these natural wonders.
The history of the Great Ocean Road is fascinating. Read about who built the road and why.