A Natural Wonderland on Australia's Iconic Coast Is in Danger of Oil Exploration

The unseen depths of the Great Australian Bight are absolutely teeming with life, a new study study has revealed. But soon enough, even these deep-sea creatures could be subject to the probing fingers of the oil industry.

The Great Australian Bight is a 1,160-kilometre (720 mile) open bay that takes a sizeable chunk out of the southern coastline of the continent. The region is home to a diverse array of marine species, many of which could be put at risk by oil exploration.

Yet even though the Australian government has handed out nearly a dozen permits for oil exploration in the region since 2011, the environmental impact of offshore drilling has gone largely unstudied.

Even today, scientists know remarkably little about these pristine waters, or the creatures that call them home. And to date, the deep water fauna in this region have remained almost unknown.

"Decisions like [oil exploration] can't be made when you don't have any information about the local environment, and it was identified that we knew nothing about the Great Australian Bight," lead author Hugh Macintosh told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

With oil exploration on the horizon, it's about time that we update our ignorance and fill in our blind spots. Without a baseline knowledge of diversity in the region, we will have no idea how the bight will be impacted by oil expansion.

The recent research is the product of a joint effort between BP, The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI)....

read more from sciencealert.com