Wolf Rock, 1; British Navy, 0!
JAG, unknot thy knickers! No-one is suggesting that the Wolf Rock accident
is anything but disastrous - for wildlife as well as for the boat's Captain
and the British navy.
And please don't feel upset about some throw-away comment that it is
exciting. A large ship run aground is exciting; a warship even more so.
I'll bet there is isn't a single fit person on birding-aus who, if they'd
been on Lord Howe Island, wouldn't have gone for a look - even if some might
claim they were only interested to see if there any polluted birds on the
shore that they could help.
A tourist attraction? LHI doesn't need one. They get all the tourists they
want. Even though the tourist industry is their major source of income, the
residents of LHI and the Board they elect to manage the island, have chosen
to limit the number of tourist beds on the island to the present modest
level. Can you think of any other local community in Australia, willing to
do that to preserve the heritage values of a World Heritage listed area?
I stood on a Shearwater path in the rainforest on LHI while three Little
Green Pigeons (all right: Emerald Doves) walked past my feet; one paused to
consider walking between my boots. Would they be so unconcerned at a human
presence if the island people weren't 100% caring of their wildlife?
They are caring people. Did you notice that they rallied around to give of
their strictly limited drinking water supplies - rain-water roof catchment -
when the destroyer's water got polluted?
Ned's Beach is a fish sanctuary. No fishing allowed. One can wade into the
sea (gently sloping bottom) and feed the fish. You'll quickly be surrounded
by fish up a metre or so long. But on one occasion, a reef shark took a
bite of a boy's leg. My understanding is that the islanders took round the
hat and raised something like ten thousand dollars to help the family with
ensuing medical, evacuation, etc., expenses. They are that sort of people.
They are undoubtedly fully aware of the environmental damage, and potential
for more, and you can be sure they are doing everything possible to protect
the island's superb natural heritage values, even if they aren't making a
big fuss about it.
Syd (happy LHI return visitor) Curtis
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