Rainbow Warrior explores Great Southern Reef around Kangaroo Island

The Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior last week completed several days of research diving around Kangaroo Island.

The diving ended with the discovery of a leafy sea dragon and juvenile southern rock lobster under the Kingscote jetty, which was live streamed on Greenpeace social media.

Greenpeace, through the work of scientists and photographers on board, is raising awareness of the unique marine environment in the Great Australian Bight.

They say the underappreciated Great Southern Reef will be at risk if the Australian Government and its regulatory agencies approve oil exploration and drilling in the Bight.

The Rainbow Warrior anchored in Nepean Bay off Kingscote on December 6 and a group of locals involved in marine mammal conservation through the Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbour Dolphinwatch group were invited on board.

Dutch skipper of the Amsterdam registered ship, Hettie Geenen graciously gave a tour of the state-of-the-art ship that travels under sail power when conditions allow.

Also going on board was State Member for Mawson, Leon Bignell.

“Sensational day aboard the Rainbow Warrior off Kangaroo Island talking with scientists and photographers who have found sea creatures they haven't seen before along with a few regulars like the leafy sea dragon,” Mr Bignell posted on his Facebook page.

“85 per cent of the sealife found around Kangaroo Island and the Great Australian Bight isn't found anywhere else in the world. We are very fortunate to live in such a pristine part of our planet.”

Mr Bignell brought with him Emily Gore, the Labor candidate for South Australia at the next Federal election and Saskia Gerhardy, who runs the EnviroKids program in Willunga.

Those invited on board were given a slide show of the recent dives by New Zealand based photographer Richard Robinson.

Mr Robinson showed the visitors photographs of harlequin fish and blue devil fish he encountered at Wedge Island off Kangaroo Island, as well as the sponge gardens off Antechamber Bay and golden kelp forests around the Island.

He had to wait for his dive at the Kingcote jetty to see a leafy sea dragon, a creature he had always wanted to encounter.

The Rainbow Warrior this week visited Port Lincoln where it was greeted by a flotilla of supporters. 

It will then sail to Port Adelaide in time for the state Labor conference before heading back to the Great Australian Bight and Ceduna.

The ship and her crew will then sail across to Esperance and Bremer Bay, all part of the mission to protect the Great Southern Reef.