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Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
31 March 2006
Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for Booderee National Park, today released a report that found the marine biodiversity of Booderee National Park is among the most unique in Australia.
"The 'Marine Biodiversity in Booderee National Park' report includes the results of several studies that document that Park's array of unique marine plant and animals," Mr Hunt said.
" We have found that the waters at Booderee, especially north west of Bowen Island, have the highest fish species diversity measured in temperate Australia, whilst south west Bowen Island has an unusually large and spectacular range of tropical species."
"Nearby Scottish Rocks has been found to have particularly diverse and unusual algal flora and a rich invertebrate fauna and we were surprised to learn that Booderee's extensive seagrass meadows in the southern part of Jervis Bay support rich colonies of Syngnathidae - the sea-dragons, seahorses, and pipefish."
Mr Hunt, who completed a scuba dive to see first hand the marine life at Booderee, said it was not only the marine life that was thriving at Booderee, but also bird life - including the local penguins.
"The Little Penguin colony on Bowen Island consistently records the highest breeding success in Australia," he said.
"The Park is also home to ground nesting seabirds such as the sooty oyster-catcher which are increasing in numbers against the national trend, and the sea eagle which has one of the highest nesting densities recorded."
Mr Hunt in part attributed the Park's unique biodiversity to the water quality and the fact the Park's coastline is protected due to it's cultural significance to the local indigenous community.
"The report confirms to us the good news that Booderee waters are very healthy," Mr Hunt said.
"High quality catchments lead to excellent water quality in the Bay, and its location means it has a rare combination of tropical, subtropical and temperate species of fish and algae."
"The exceptional quality of the environment is related to the high level of protection it receives as part of the Aboriginal owned Booderee National Park."
Mr Hunt said the Park's unique marine environment and healthy waters have long attracted divers, scientists and marine tourists from around the world.
"People come from around the world to see the rich variety of fish and plant life, especially the giant cuttlefish, sea-dragons, seahorses, and pipefish and brilliant tropical fish."
"We are endeavouring, in partnership with the local Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community to keep the Park in its current healthy condition and support the colonies of birds and marine life so they can be enjoyed by future generations of the local community and international visitors."
The report "Marine Biodiversity in Booderee National Park" is available at www.deh.gov.au/parks/publications/booderee/marine.html
Kristy McSweeney (Mr Hunt's Office) 0415 740 722