Even though their own documents say an oil spill near Australia’s Ningaloo Marine Park could be very damaging, they still want to construct a deepwater oil drilling platform and begin oil exploration there. Ningaloo Reef is a rich source of marine biodiversity. The park, which was formally designated in 1987, contains over 200 species of corals, and over 400 species of reef fish.
The reef is 300 kilometers long and is Australia’s largest fringing type reef. Fringing reefs are made up of coral and grow close to coastlines. Four marine turtle species live in these waters: hawksbill, flatback, green and loggerheads. Loggerheads are endangered, and Green turtles are listed in Australia as vulnerable. All four are protected by law. Some other species found in the Ningaloo area include oceanic whitetip shark, tiger shark, blue shark, grey reef shark, trevally, tuna, mackerel, marlin and sailfish. The waters are also a migratory path for whales and whale sharks. Each spring about 300 to 500 whale sharks congregate in Ningaloo waters, as do manta rays. Dolphins are common there, and humpback whales migrate through twice a year. Other whales such as minke Bryde’s, southern right and orcas have been observed in its deeper waters. The Ningaloo coast has been home to aboriginal people for 30,000 years.
How could the Australian government consider letting such a project take place? World Wildlife Fund Australia wrote, “Reviews conducted around the world following the Deepwater Horizon disaster commonly conclude the oil industry has essentially been allowed to write the rule book for its own operations. ” (Source: World Wildlife Fund)
The fact that an oil company would consider drilling near such a marine sanctuary, while admitting their actions could cause great harm, displays a revolting level of greed and lack of consideration. In light of the recent oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, (that is ongoing because the oil is still in the Gulf), one wonders if there isn’t some insanity at work in the decision-making process for these projects.
Image Credit: NASA