The Great Australian Bight is a large open bay, situated off the central and western portions of the southern coastline of mainland Australia. Most of the bight lies due south of the sprawling Nullarbor Plain, which spans South Australia and Western Australia. The Eyre Highway is located close to the cliffs of the bight between the head of the Bight and Eucla.
The Great Australian Bight features a coastline that is characterised by cliff faces that are up to 60 metres high, surfing beaches and rock platforms which are ideal for Whale-watching. During the southern hemisphere’s winter, increasing numbers of Whales migrate to the Bight from the Antarctic to calve and breed, making Whale-watching a popular activity during this period. Whaling during the 19th century saw their numbers dwindle but the population has since recovered to some extent.
The waters of the Great Australian Bight are rich in bio-diversity, particularly in zooplankton, owing to a specific series of ocean currents. This plankton supports the high density of small planktivorous fish that includes Sardines and Anchovies that juvenile Southern Bluefin Tuna migrate into the Bight to feed on annually. Economically, the Bight has been subject to exploitation for many years due to the fishing, whaling and shellfish industries, with Southern Bluefin Tuna a favoured target of fishing in the Bight.
The Great Australian Bight has also been explored for oil and gas since the late 1960’s and recently several companies have stated their intention to explore the Bight further.