Surfrider's Andy Gray, members from the Parks Australia’s Marine Protected Areas team, CSIRO, and several marine debris NGO representatives finished the Great Coral Sea Clean-up and Bio-discovery Voyage this past Thursday, the 23rd of June.
The Coral Sea covers roughly 1 million square kilometers of water - approximately 3 times the size of its neighbor the Great Barrier Reef - and is home to an array of spectacular reef systems created by underwater mountains. Currently it supports a thriving community of marine life including hammerhead sharks, manta rays, barracudas, white-tip reef sharks and more. But despite its isolation, these reef systems and the organisms that they support are under serious threat. As Andy and the team learned, plastic debris have found their way into these remote habitats and are devastating the lives of so many species, both aquatic and terrestrial.
Furthermore, since it is largely unprotected, it is vulnerable to other impacts that effect similar coral reefs, such as illegal fishing, sea-level rise, coral bleaching, and fossil fuel exploitation. It is our belief that with actions taken by communities and individuals around the world, like the Great Coral Sea Clean-up and Bio-discovery Voyage, there is still a chance to save these beautiful reefs and the marine life that depends upon its existence.
If you wish to experience more of the wonderful biodiversity of the Great Coral Sea, or want to develop a better understanding of the devastating extent of marine debris and pollution that exists in the remotest parts of our oceans, check out the brief introduction of Andy's journey here. And remember to stay tuned because at the the end of the month we will be releasing a movie of their journey, which will include exciting photos, video clips of the trip, and information about the crew's discoveries and insights regarding the current state of the Great Coral Sea.