Within a year of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill — which spewed 140 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico — the Australian government began greenlighting offshore oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight, a vast undeveloped bay on the continent’s southern coast.
The region is one of the last large remaining areas of marine wilderness on the planet, and a critical nursery for southern right whales, among other species. As the Great Australian Bight Alliance puts it: “BIG OIL=BIG RISKS,” and the group has mounted a campaign to prevent offshore drilling in waters it calls “far rougher, far more remote and far riskier than the Gulf of Mexico.”
Those efforts are the focus of “Operation Jeedara,” a forthcoming documentary by Sea Shepherd, the ocean conservation group, which debuted in Australia around Earth Day. The film premiered in the United States on World Ocean Day, June 8, at the Harmony Gold Preview House in Hollywood.
“We’ve got to protect these healthy intact marine ecosystems for our own survival on this planet,” says Jeff Hansen, Director of ship operations for Sea Shepherd Global.
From the looks of the trailer, the film promises to be a powerful look at the lives — human and otherwise — that could be in jeopardy from offshore drilling in the region.
The bight supports an incredible number of sea life, including whales and marine mammals thanks to nutrient upwellings. “Scientists estimate that around 85 percent of the species that live in the Great Australian Bight are found nowhere else on Earth,” according to the alliance.
A spill on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon “must never happen to the Bight whose clean and healthy waters support people’s lifestyles and local industries right across southern Australia,” the Alliance says on its website. “Coastal communities – people from Western Australia’s southern coastlines, across the coasts and peninsulas of South Australia and Victoria, to the beaches of Tasmania – value and rely on our clean oceans, beaches, islands, reefs and fisheries.”
Appearing in the film alongside Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson, will be a few recognizable faces from Hollywood: actors Holly Combs, Richard Dean Anderson and Cliff Simon.
Sea Shepherd is currently figuring out its distribution strategy, so be on the lookout for the film.