Above and below the Great Australian Bight a photo essay | Environment

The ship sets sail and we brace our legs against the swell, sweeping and mopping around the cabins. Countering the tilt we work quickly and silently, trying not to wake any crew who had been on watch the previous night. Not even celebrities and photographers are spared the daily 8am chores, the ships third mate, Amrit Bakshi, tells us later, laughing.

  • Clockwise from top: The Point Labatt conservation park lookout, mechanic Marc De Fourneaux fixes one of the ships small inflatable crafts, Laurence Nicoud from France, the only female cook for the Rainbow Warrior III, and volunteer deckhand Luca Lamont enters the bridge of the ship.

That was our first morning on board the Rainbow Warrior III, one of the worlds most recognisable sailing ships and a symbol of environmental activism. Visiting Australia for only the third time since it was custom-built for Greenpeace in 2011, the ship came to explore the wild and untouched waters of the Great Australian Bight, due south of the Nullarbor Plain.

  • Clockwise from top: Navigating waters around Greenly Island, Maria Martinez, the chief mate of the Rainbow Warrior III, first engineer Erik Mekenkamp enters the water nearby Massillon Island, and scientist Sam Owen completes his monitoring of marine species.

The bight is our wild, uncompromising underwater backyard. Kilometres of red earth and sand dunes drop off rugged cliffs into great expanses of deep, pristine ocean. A dive in these waters reveals another world. Its a place where leafy sea dra....

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