Kangaroo Island's stunning and pristine north coast will be the focus of international interest and scrutiny in the coming months.
Citizen science group Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch is collaborating with research organisation Australian Ocean Lab - AusOcean to nominate the KI north coast as a Hope Spot under the Mission Blue Project.
Dolphin Watch coordinator Tony Bartram said the initiative could see the area, one of only a handful of such designated sites around Australia's coastline, promoted widely as one of the world's most important marine environments.
The Mission Blue Project at www.mission-blue.org is the brainchild of Dr Sylvia Earle, considered among the world's most highly respected marine authorities, a leading marine scientist and explorer.
The project has resulted in some of the world's most important marine habitats being afforded greater protection and profiling as places to visit for people from around the globe.
As part of the Great Southern Reef, KI's temperate waters are home to an incredible number of species with at least 85 per cent found nowhere else in the world, he said.
Mr Bartram met recently with Mission Blue Hope Spot program manager Shannon Rake via Zoom, while she was isolating in California.
She offered great encouragement and advice to the co-nominators in an extensive, far reaching discussion.
"It is possible in the near future, as a result of this initiative, that the marine environment of KI's north coast may be considered in the same light as the terrestrial environment, capable of providing extraordinary world leading wildlife experiences," he said.
"This is something for which the Island's land based environment is renowned.
"It deserves nothing less than this special recognition as the following quote from Catherine Larkin of AusOcean outlines: KI is unique in that it sits at the confluence of two oceanographic systems providing unique habitat that supports an abundance of marine species, many of which have high conservation value.
"From Leafy sea dragons, to pods of 100 dolphins and large coral colonies that have existed for hundreds of years, KI has provided an important refuge for many vulnerable species whose numbers have declined significantly elsewhere."
Both Dolphin Watch and AusOcean oppose the development of a port at Smith Bay on the north coast being proposed by Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers, making submissions to the state government about environmental damage.