A dolphin spotter has spotted a problem.
Andrew Neighbour is a born and bred Kangaroo Islander. He relies on a clean ocean for his livelihood as a charter boat operator. He operates those boats as a dolphin spotter — a job its name exactly suggests. (Way to make good life choices, Andrew.)
He's one of just around 4,000 residents on this island off the coast of South Australia. I'd never heard of Kangaroo Island. After learning about the abundant wildlife and sealife, I'd jump at the chance to leave my home in San Francisco and visit the beaches and sea cliffs where Andrew grew up working on boats.
Andrew knows how tides work. And where a likely oil spill would go.
Having grown up on Kangaroo Island and the sea around it, Andrew can easily forecast what would happen in an oil spill. He says:
"Any oil, if it comes this way which it will with tidal movement, it's going to get us north and south. You're not going to get away from it. If a spill happens, it'll be devastating."
The island, surrounded by an oil spill that should be left in the ground.
Another Deepwater Horizon? No thanks.
The picture Andrew paints of the drilling risk reminds me of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Five years on, we're still learning about the repercussions of the largest accidental marine oil spill ever.
The problem is BP's relentless search for oil.
Right now, BP is looking for spots to drill for oil in the pristine wilderness of the Great Australian Bight. (A bight, by the way, is a big open-mouthed bay. Kangaroo Island is nestled in the curved coast of South Australia.)
We should definitely leave this oil in the ground (the ground under the sea).
The Wilderness Society has this to say:
"The future of Kangaroo Island, and many other coastal communities, is in danger as BP prepares to start exploratory drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight. This is a risky process at the best of times, with 80-90% of all oil spills happening during this phase. But in the remote, wild waters off South Australia it is even more complicated."
And these “wild waters" are very alive. Kangaroo Island, though remote to many, isn't some blank canvas dead zone.
"The Bight is home to an amazing array of marine life, including many threatened and endangered species: great white sharks, humpback, blue and southern right whales, southern bluefin tuna, Australian sea lions, white-bellied sea eagle and albatross. These waters are an important marine nursery for the Australian sea lion colonies to raise pups and southern right whales to nurture their calves."
Folks, there is a *baby whale nursery* here.
That whales are choosing to give birth near Kangaroo Island is a big deal because they are Southern Right Whales.
"Hunted almost to extinction in the 1800s but now protected in Australia, the population is still recovering. Over 200 were observed along this stretch of coastline in 2014, mostly mothers and calves."
Andrew is excited in the video that the whale numbers are increasing. Out on his boat, I bet he's witnessed that increase personally over the years.
Help Andrew be a good guardian of his island.
Help Andrew and the other few thousand people on Kangaroo Island keep our beloved ocean alive.