What inspires you? Are you finding it increasingly difficult to be optimistic about the future of our planet with all the doom and gloom around?
There’s no doubt about it, the situation’s serious and we do have big challenges ahead of us. Our oceans are increasingly being overfished, polluted and important habitats damaged and destroyed. When I’m working in my office in Brisbane, it’s easy to get discouraged by all of this and wonder how we can turn it around. Then I go on a trip, and see something that inspires me and reminds me that good things are happening.
Recently I was in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea, where I went diving on some of the seamounts in the bay. These seamounts rise from very deep water (>1000m) to 10-20m below the surface. The tops of the seamounts are only small, but they’re teaming with life—big schools of barracuda swirling overhead, unicornfishes making spawning rushes to the surface, and a seemingly endless array of fish, corals and other invertebrates hanging out on the top and sides of the seamount.
This is a rare sight these days—an intact coral reef with very few human impacts. See it for yourself in this video from my dive.
Why is it still intact? Well, there are a couple of reasons. One is that the seamounts are remote and difficult to find without modern technology. The other is that they are protected by the local dive industry, Walindi Plantation Resort, who know their location and dive there regularly but protect them by using subsurface mooring buoys (so they’re not found accidentally by boats transiting the area) and enforcing strict environmental standards for diving.
The dive industry also employs local staff, supports the local conservation group Mahonia Na Dari (Guardian of the Sea) and helps protect other reefs in the area by paying reef user fees to local communities. Since the local communities that own these resources receive benefits from diving, they protect the reefs. So everyone wins—the dive industry, local communities and the coral reef communities.
Walindi Plantation Resort has also been a great partner for The Nature Conservancy, and supports our work where we’re helping local communities and governments establish a resilient network of locally managed marine areas in the bay.
It reminds me that even in a changing world, a lot can be achieved when people set their minds to it. We just need to find win-win solutions that provide benefits to both people and nature.
(Image: Ali Green with other divers in Kimbe Bay. Source: Stephan Gabos. Video: Large schools of barracuda, unicornfishes, surgeonfishes and fusiliers swirling above a seamount in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. Source: Stephan Gabos.)