Great Southern Reef

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The term Great Southern Reef (GSR) is 21st century name given to a system of interconnected temperate rocky reefs which spans the southern coast of continental Australia, Tasmania and reaches north to Brisbane and Kalbarri (in the east and west, respectively). It covers 71,000 km2 and straddles five states, running almost 8,000 kilometers.[1][2]


Kelp forests are a defining feature of "the reef". The reef supports economic activities along Australia's southern coastline, such as commercial and recreational fishing, scuba diving, surfing and other tourism. These activities contribute at least $10 billion to the Australian economy each year.[1][3] Biologically, it is a unique temperate marine ecosystem, with 30 to 80% of its species found nowhere else.[1][4]


The name "Great Southern Reef" was proposed[to whom?] by a group of researchers from the University of Western Australia in order to raise awareness about temperate Australian reefs. They hope that this will increase interest in studying and protecting "the reef". The term first appeared in Australian news media in September 2015,[5] following the publication of a scientific paper in Marine and Freshwater Research, first presented in June 2015. The paper was entitled "The 'Great Southern Reef’: social, ecological and economic value of Australia’s neglected kelp forests" and was written by Scott Bennett, Thomas Wernberg, Sean D. Connell, Alistair J. Hobday, Craig R. Johnson and Elvira S. Poloczanska.[6]

Oil drilling[edit]

There have been proposals for oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight, and there are concerns that this could impact on the Great Southern Reef. Environmentalists including spokespeople for The Wilderness Society have argued that deep water and exposure to rough seas could result in an oil spill.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Bennett, Wernberg; et al. (2016). "The 'Great Southern Reef': social, ecological and economic value of Australia's neglected kelp forests". Marine and Freshwater Research. doi:10.1071/mf15232.
  2. ^ Wernberg, Bennett; et al. (2015). "Australia's 'other' reef is worth more than $10 billion a year - but have you heard of it?".
  3. ^ "Australia's forgotten attraction: The Great Southern Reef". 4BC. Archived from the original on 2016-02-13. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  4. ^ "Australia's 'other' reef". News | The University Of Western Australia. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  5. ^ "Is it time for the Great Southern Reef?". Australian Geographic. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  6. ^ Bennett, Scott; Wernberg, Thomas; Connell, Sean D.; Hobday, Alistair J.; Johnson, Craig R.; Poloczanska, Elvira S. (2016-01-27). "The 'Great Southern Reef': social, ecological and economic value of Australia's neglected kelp forests". Marine and Freshwater Research. 67 (1): 47–56. doi:10.1071/MF15232. ISSN 1448-6059.
  7. ^ Slezak, Michael (15 December 2018). "Australia's other great reef, where oil companies want to drill for riches". ABC News. Retrieved 15 December 2018.

35°00′14″S 135°57′37″E / 35.0038380°S 135.9603483°E / -35.0038380; 135.9603483Coordinates: 35°00′14″S 135°57′37″E / 35.0038380°S 135.9603483°E / -35.0038380; 135.9603483