Pearson Isles - Mother Nature's MasterpiecePearson Isles and the M/Y Steve Irwin on Operation Jeedara 2018. Photo Credit: Eliza Muirhead / Sea Shepherd.

Today, Sea Shepherd’s flagship, the M/Y Steve Irwin, returned to Port Adelaide, South Australia after another successful two week expedition to the Great Australian Bight. This time Sea Shepherd teamed up with independent marine and terrestrial scientists and film makers to further highlight the importance of this ecological wonderland.

The expedition saw Sea Shepherd facilitate independent scientists conduct ecological marine and terrestrial surveys of Flinders Island and Pearson Isles, measuring size, abundance and biodiversity. These Isles are part of the Investigator Group Wilderness Protection Area in recognition for their critical ecological value.

Scientists conducting terrestrials surveys of Flinders Island and Pearson Isles with a drone.Scientists conducting terrestrials surveys of Flinders Island and Pearson Isles with a drone. Photo Credit: Eliza Muirhead / Sea Shepherd.

“Last time we showcased the beauty of the Great Australian Bight, the landscapes, the whales and the terrestrial inhabitants, that would be lost if there was an oil spill at the hands of BP. This time we went beneath the waves off places like Pearson Isles and what we found was truly amazing."

"I had no idea that places so rich and so biodiverse could still exist, numerous vibrant species of algae swaying in the current, soft corals, sponges, all homes and habitats to a vast array of spectacular marine life, from rays, wobbygong sharks, crustaceans, molluscs, blue gropers, southern blue devils, endangered Australian sea lions and long nosed fur seals,” said Jeff Hansen, Managing Director, Sea Shepherd Australia. 

“The marine life, both plant and animal, was truly amazing, and what we would hope that our Great Barrier Reef be like again one day, for it gave us an brief insight and vision of what our oceans could be once more if we set aside sanctuaries for marine life."

"Even though the Pearson sanctuary zone has only been in place for just over three years, already the results are promising, however, its important to note that this healing takes time, especially with some species like the southern blue devil that lives for at least 60 years and takes a long time to reach maturity, or our charismatic yet endangered Australian sea lions that have a gestation period of up to 18 months. Our oceans and marine life can recover, if they are given a chance. Sanctuaries give them that chance."

Scientists conducting underwater surveys of Flinders Island and Pearson Isles.Scientists conducting underwater surveys of Flinders Island and Pearson Isles. Photo Credit: Eliza Muirhead / Sea Shepherd.

“A network of 19 marine parks was established in 2012, with numerous sanctuary zones in recognition of the fact that 85% of the marine life in South Australian waters are found no where else on the planet. In other words, what we have in the Bight is globally unique, rare and deserves the utmost protection.

However, all this amazing wonderland, these animals homes, our kids real future, is at serious risk still at the hands of big oil via Norwegian oil giant Statoil and Santos, sponsors of the tour down under." "Sea Shepherd and the Great Australian Bight Alliance is encouraging the Australian Governments to support the Bight, to support the six councils that have voted against drilling, representing hundreds of thousands of the community and the 10,000 plus jobs the Bight supports in the fishing and tourism sectors.

“These marine and terrestrial population surveys, measuring size, abundance and biodiversity, are critically important to gauge how our marine life are tracking, especially such community and tourism favourites like our playful, charismatic, yet endangered Australian sea lions, whose population has crashed by almost 80% in three generations.

Sea Shepherd also facilitated scientists conduct the first three dimensional mapping of Pearson Isles via drones, which enables non invasive population status for Australian sea lions. As well as marine surveys via scientists, Sea Shepherd also facilitated underwater ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle), via Geo Oceans marine surveys."

The beauty of Pearson Isles from the air.The beauty of Pearson Isles from the air. Photo Credit: Eliza Muirhead / Sea Shepherd.


Captain Anteo Broadfield stated: “Our supporters back us because we always strive to be as effective as we can with our limited funds and resources to uphold Sea Shepherds primary mission to defend, conserve and protect the biodiversity in our oceans. To add to this Sea Shepherd often fills a void so together we can be even more effective, be that in partnering with governments in Africa, supplying the vessels and volunteer crew or on this mission, partnering with independent scientists who are always striving to measure, manage and safeguard biodiversity in our oceans with the same passion as our crews.”

Sea Shepherd will be now packaging up the trip as a visual feast to once again showcase one of the last big in tact marine wilderness areas on the planet, the Great Australian Bight, and why we must protect this area, and not let it be put at risk at the hands of big oil.

Watch Jeedara – The Film on iTunes - our remarkable true story of Sea Shepherd’s Operation Jeedara in 2016 to take on Big Oil in the Great Australian Bight: https://apple.co/2otwl5j

Jeedara - The Book is a tribute to the Bight’s rich marine ecosystem and our crucial 2016 campaign to help protect them: https://bit.ly/2pfQ5ur

 

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