Our marine world is a precious gift. A gift from nature that sustains all life on this planet yet we treat it harshly. We pollute its waters and harvest its life without a thought for the future or care for the destruction we leave in our wake.

It is said you can’t miss what you don’t know. This is true. You can’t miss schools of fish that take 20 minutes to pass if you have never seen them or Banjo rays along a reef edge if they are no longer there.

The disappearance of these sights was fast. In 15 years they were no longer a common sight–in 20, with the exception of the Grey Nurse, like so much marine life we took for granted, they were gone. In their place was plastic of every kind. Water bottles, plastic bags, and white eating utensils mostly.

The underwater world is still a unique and wonderful place. It offers the visitor adventure and excitement but if we continue to destroy this precious gift, marine life as we know it will cease to exist. In some places it already has… Marine animals are free for the taking–the ocean, a vast rubbish dump.

There is one place I know of (perhaps the only place) where a visitor can visit and see clouds of marine life untouched by the destructive hand of man. That place is Cabbage Tree Bay off Shelly Beach Manly. Not a large area but this little diamond of life attracts visitors from all over the world. Sadly, totally protected marine environments along the NSW coast are rare indeed. I have spent over 40 years fighting uncaring officials for more sanctuary zones along the NSW coast. Areas where a snorkeler can swim from the beach and see the marine world as nature intended it to be, not as man has made it

One of the up-sides of being old is that I have known a world very different from the one we all live in today.

I have seen our marine wilderness in its full glory untouched by man’s destructive ways. A magic world I took for granted so long ago. A world fast disappearing under human garbage thrown carelessly into our coastal waters. An out-of-sight-out-of-mind attitude. Next to over-fishing, plastic is the most serious threat to our marine environment and the countless animals that call the ocean home.

It saddens me to think this, but the experience is a great teacher. We, humans, hold the future of our planet in our greedy, careless hands and that means the future of ourselves. I need say no more.