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Our ocean heritage



Right now, fragile marine environments in South-West Australia are under threat - but because of pressure from industry groups, the government is proposing to protect only two of ten precious places as marine sanctuaries. You can help turn this around. Please use the easy tool on the right to make sure these marine environments are protected for future generations?

Because the devastation of these precious places occurs out of sight, industry and government are hoping the public won't care enough to make marine life an issue. Together, we can protect our ocean sanctuaries - enter your details on the right to show decision-makers that you care. Need inspiration? Click on the links below to see why these precious places must be protected.

These 8 hotspots are from Western Australia only. To see the two in South Australia click here.
Just out to sea from Geraldton, the vast undersea canyons surrounding the Abrolhos Islands are home to over 1500 species of plants, fish, corals and sea birds. These waters are also popular with migratory whales and fish. Protecting the seas around the Abrolhos Islands is also a key step to creating a sustainable fishing industry. The Islands are the main breeding grounds of the Western Rock lobster - protecting these breeding grounds will ensure there are always healthy populations of the lobsters. This part of the great blue also has great historical significance - it is home to the almost 400 year old 'Batavia' shipwreck.
Photo: Shannon Conway
This shelf extends far beyond Rottnest Island - from the Abrolhos Islands to Geographe Bay. The Rottnest Shelf is renowned for its marine life - people come from far and wide to snorkel, dive, sail, fish and whale watch. This unique habitat is home to the rare and endangered Green turtle, all five 'vulnerable' reef fish, and a huge diversity of marine life. This subtropical ecosystem with its limestone cliffs and seagrass growing in very deep water is like nowhere else. The Rottnest Shelf spans south of the Abrolhos Islands, past Perth along to Geographe Bay - past coastal towns including Jurien Bay, Dongarra and Mandurah.
Photo: Mito Paz
Did you know that Perth has a canyon larger than America's Grand Canyon? The Perth Canyon lies just kilometres offshore from WA's capital city. Not only is it massive, but it is visited by the largest mammal on earth - the critically endangered Blue Whale. These whales are the largest creatures in Earth's history, and the Perth Canyon is one of only three places in all of Australia that the Blue Whales are known to feed at. But it is not only the whales we make this area so precious - up to 90 per cent of the marine life in the South West is unique. No one knows what other mysterious species live in the depths of the Canyon. Creating sanctuaries will ensure we protect what we know is there, the feeding grounds of the Blue whale and take precautions to safe guard what scientists are yet to discover.
Photo: Shannon Conway
Geographe Bay is home to sea lions, is a pit-stop for Humpback whales and dolphins, and has been voted as one of the top ten places to visit in the world by Lonely Planet. The seagrass beds and limestone reefs in the bay are home to a spectacular array of marine life - the Bay is literally teeming with life from giant dhufish to sea lions. Sanctuaries are need to protect crucial nurseries which if we allow to be overfished or the habitat damaged could have devastating consequences for the rest of the South West.
Photo: Shannon Conway
Naturaliste Plateau has been described as Australia's Atlantis - an 'undersea island' with canyons rising up to a plateau at 2000 metres. This is the only place in Australia where two major ocean currents - one warm, one cold - meet. When those ocean currents collide it causes huge upwellings and this leads to an abundance of marine life which in turn attracts larger marine life to feed in the area like whales, dolphins and fish.
Photo: Glen Cowans
The huge Diamantina Fracture Zone is a natural wonder - Australia highest mountain range exists in it. The waters are so deep here that with even the best technology, it is impossible to reach the bottom. So far, rare and wonderful deep sea creatures have been found here - but as it is too deep to reach scientists don't know the full extent of what lives down there. It is thought the rare and little-known Beaked whale feed along these geographical marvels.
Photo: OAR/National Undersea Research Program; Univ. of Hawaii
The Albany Canyons are a popular feeding spot for the rare deep-diving Sperm whales, Humpback whales, and Southern Right whales - which have traveled from Antarctica to breed there in safety since Albany ended commerical whaling. Just picture the whales diving down, exploring these underwater canyons, feeding on squid and fish to get the sustenance they will need on their long migration. The Canyons are also the spawning grounds for Orange Roughy - a species of fish almost wiped out by overfishing. These fish are still caught today using one of the most destructive fishing methods know - sea floor trawling - the equivalent of bulldozing our ocean floor.
Photo: Scott Portelli C/- WDCS & Save Our Marine Life
Off the coast from Esperance, a network of 105 islands, home to the very rare Leafy Sea Dragon, colourful sponge gardens, and coral over 700 years old makes up the Recherche Archipelago. The area has traditionally been a safe haven for marine life. Species like the Australian Sea Lion and the Southern Right whale - once hunted almost to extinction - use these waters as a nursery. But as fishermen get bigger and more sophisticated boats they are venturing into these waters, threating the habitat. This is why we need to lobby the government to officially declare this area a sanctuary - to provide a safe and healthy ecosystem.
Photo: Glen Cowans
Want to know more about this campaign? Check out this info sheet.

Images top row L-R: 1. Batavia wreck, Abrolhos Islands (Shannon Conway) 2. Loggerhead Turtle, Rottnest Shelf (Mito Paz) 3. Grey Nurse Shark, Perth Canyon (Shannon Conway) 4. Coral & fish, Geographe Bay (Shannon Conway)
Images bottom row L-R: 5. Turban Coral, Naturaliste Plateau (Glen Cowans) 6. Deep sea exploration equipment, Diamantina Fracture Zone (OAR/National Undersea Research Program; Univ. of Hawaii) 7. Humpback whales, Albany (Scott Portelli) 8. Sea Lion, Recherche Archipelago (Glen Cowans)

Many thanks for information on these areas from our friends at Save Our Marine Life, and the authors of Atlantis Found: Underwater Icons of Australia's South West.