Macquarie Island - Seal

Monthly Marine Happy Headlines February 2023

Welcome to our newest feature, Monthly Marine Happy Headlines!

Each month, we spotlight several marvellous marine discoveries, spreading ocean joy around the globe. From conservation success stories to empowering community action, the discovery of new species, and ground-breaking research articles,  join us for some ocean joy!

Headline 1 – Australia has blocked the creation of a coal mine under environmental laws


Good news from Australia, as BBC News reported that for the first time in history, Australia has blocked the creation of a coal mine under environmental laws.


The proposed mine was about 6.2 miles (10km) from the Great Barrier Reef. Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said this posed too high of a risk, considering the vulnerability of the area. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system and has suffered four mass bleaching events in the past six years alone.  The outlook of the reef is ‘poor’ authorities say. 


However, Australia remains a major global supplier of fossil fuels. When exports are factored in, the country accounts for producing 3.6% of the world’s emissions, but with only 0.3% of the world’s population.

Headline 2 – Vast new marine zone a ‘mindset shift’ for conservation

The Guardian shared news that Indigenous nations in British Columbia are hoping to replicate the success achieved by the Great Bear Rainforest by extending the model out to the ocean. The proposed new network of protected marine zones will be called the Great Bear Sea. 

This new marine zone has been welcomed, as it recognises the balance between preserving vulnerable ecosystems whilst taking into account the needs of coastal Indigenous communities. And, it is also vital if Canada is to reach its target of 30% protection of its lands and oceans by 2030. 

We require a mindset shift in order to achieve a more sustainable planet


Headline 3 – UN ocean treaty talks resume in New York

Final negotiations for the UN Ocean Treaty resumed in New York on Monday 20th February.

Despite a target of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 being agreed at COP15 in Montreal in December 2022, an ocean treaty has still not been agreed. But, progress on ocean sanctuaries was made during COP15 so there is hope that a treaty is within reach. Without a strong treaty, it would be almost impossible to achieve the 30×30 target.

Headline 4 – Extremely rare phantom jellyfish caught on camera

Phantom jellyfish are giant invertebrates which inhabit the polar oceans’ dark midnight zone. Scientists know little about the species. It is thought that they use their ribbon-like arms to capture plankton and small fish. They also often have company – small fish that live alongside it for shelter. In return, the fish ensure that the jellyfish remains parasite-free. 

Fewer than 130 sightings have ever been made, however, a 30-foot-long specimen was recently spotted off Antarctica. The increase in sightings is linked to the rise of personal submersibles during tourism expeditions. 

Headline 5 – The Macquarie Island Marine Park will triple in size

The Australian Marine Conservation Society reported the great news that the Australian Government is planning to triple the size of the Macquarie Island Marine Park.


Australia’s World-Heritage Macquarie Island provides a crucial habitat for penguins, seals, whales, fish and important migratory birds e.g., albatrosses. Some species e.g., the royal penguin are only found on the island. 


This expansion will ensure that Macquarie Island obtains a high level of sanctuary protection, whilst continuing to accommodate sustainable fishery. 

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