East Coast kelp forests ‘disappearing'

DISAPPEARING ACT: Divers explore the giant kelp forest at Munro Bight, which no longer exists according to Eaglehawk Dive Centre co-owner Mick Baron.

DISAPPEARING ACT: Divers explore the giant kelp forest at Munro Bight, which no longer exists according to Eaglehawk Dive Centre co-owner Mick Baron.

A Tasmanian diver claims giant kelp forests on the state’s East Coast have “completely disappeared”.

Mick Baron, who has been diving along the East Coast for more than 40 years, says rising sea temperatures are destroying what’s left of Tasmania’s marine forests.

Operating Eaglehawk Dive Centre, Mr Baron said a giant kelp forest at Munro Bight in the South-East was the last patch of forest on the East Coast.

After diving at the site two weeks ago, he said the forest was now gone.

“You couldn’t get a boat through there before and originally there were three patches of forest in that area,” he said.

“Not to say it won’t come back, I sincerely hope it does.

“It’s open space now and exposed to exploitation and commercial operations.”

Video footage from 2012 and 2013 was posted to Youtube showing giant kelp forests still intact at both Munro Bight and Fortescue Bay.

The Fortescue Bay forest has also disappeared.

While Mr Baron has voiced his concerns publicly for years, he said he didn’t believe anything could be done about it.

“[Awareness] is just another cog in the wheel as far as making [the public] realise the environment is under so much stress,” he said.

Giant kelp is the largest marine plant in the world and was declared an endangered habitat in 2012.

The forests can be used for protection for marine life such as the weedy sea dragon, which has become an international tourist attraction in Tasmania.

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