Asked to imagine paradise many divers think of clear, tropical waters teeming with marine life. Throw in some big sharks to get the adrenaline going and we are in diver heaven.
Well there is no need to dream: divers can find their dive paradise in Australia’s Coral Sea, one of the last remaining places where large marine life is still found in abundance.
So it is extraordinary that a proposed new marine park fails to protect over half of the Coral Sea and leaves 90 percent of its coral reefs open to some form of fishing.
The good news is that divers have the power to improve the park. As a diver you have a powerful voice in how our marine environment is managed. No matter where you live in the world, please use that power to ask the Australian Government to improve protection for the Coral Sea’s reefs and sharks.
Lying alongside the Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea is home to an amazing array of marine life from whale sharks and sea turtles to the corals and swarms of fish that bring a reef alive. Oceanic and reef sharks are found in large numbers and the southern Coral Sea is recognised as a global predator hotspot.
Failing to protect the coral reefs leaves reef sharks vulnerable. Tawny nurse sharks and grey, blacktip and whitetip reef sharks are regularly seen here, with silvertips, tigers and great hammerheads making an occasional appearance. Remarkably, Osprey Reef - where divers from around the world encounter a shark experience of a lifetime - is one of the reefs currently left unprotected.
Many deepwater sharks live in the Coral Sea, and these also remain unprotected. Fifty two species of deep-water sharks and rays live here, 18 of them found nowhere else. Even a deep tech diver may never see these sharks, but we still have a duty to protect them.
By protecting sharks here we protect sharks in other regions including the Great Barrier Reef, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia. At least ten pelagic sharks move through the Coral Sea including shortfin mako, bronze whalers, oceanic whitetips, hammerheads, tiger, and great white sharks. The Coral Sea is also home to a rare whale shark aggregation.
These and many other shark species remain at risk under the current proposal for the new marine park. So please make a submission and use your diver-power to protect the Coral Sea’s sharks!