Trouble in Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve

By Manly Community Forum
April 13, 2024
1 min read

The growing popularity of Cabbage Tree Bay has dramatically increased the number of people in the water, Sadly, the Easter break, with perfect conditions saw an outbreak of hostilities among the those lining up underwater and disturbing the sea creatures by getting too close in an effort to take the perfect insta pic.

Dogs swimming in the Bay has also become a lightening rod for conflict among users. Recently there have been some situations, one involving claims of swimmers assaulting scuba divers underwater because they think they are disturbing the sealife as they are selfishly taking too long to get their happy fish snap. There have been many reports of fish, turtle and cuttlefish harassment, touching, chasing and camera strobes flashing. Setting up that photo shoot means extended time positioning the equipment arounds the animal which limits other people’s viewing or photo opportunities.

Sunny weekends mean a highway of people including scuba divers with cameras over the left-hand side of Cabbage Tree Bay, many wanting to get close to the sea life and take a pic. Because the divers are wearing the scuba gear on their backs, they can’t see anything above, least of all on the surface where they don’t realise that a queue of swimmers or snorkellers has formed to check out and see what they are photographing. The camera, often with strobes, and the proximity to the subject, can trigger annoyance and claims of harassment of the animal.

Meanwhile the swimmers and freedivers who usually descend very fast towards the fish or turtle may equally scare and startle the animal away, ruining it for all: fish and bystanders.

The Bold and Beautiful swimmers, local snorkelers and the dive shops scuba divers account for about 90% of those in the water during the weekends. This can mean hundreds of people in the water, but these regulars are aware of the sensitive environment, as they have a common interest in protecting the turtles and other creatures and appreciate the importance of preserving the seagrass meadows that form the habitat in the Aquatic Reserve. It is the other minority 10% who don’t abide by the rules.

Report any illegal activity online to DPI Fisheries


Photo by Will Turner on Unsplash


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