It’s got the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, and some of the best beaches, houses and suburbs. It’s got sandstone headlands, cliffs, islands and bays. There is crystal clear, sparkling water, topped off by the city’s spectacular skyline.
The Harbour also supports some incredible plants and wildlife, both on the land and under the waves.
On the land you will find over 150 species of birds in and around our Harbour, as well as plenty of marsupials, bats and reptiles and amphibians.
Underwater, our Harbour is home to more than 580 different species of fish alone. Why so many? Well, there are heaps of different underwater habitats in the Harbour that can support a wide range of marine life.
There are rocky shorelines, kelp covered reefs, rock platforms, sponge gardens, mangrove forests, and underwater fields of seagrass. Many of the fish use the rocky areas and kelp beds for food and shelter. They head to the sheltered mangrove and seagrass sites for breeding.
Looking at that sparking water, it’s hard to image the busy world beneath. It’s also easy to forget that our actions above the surface can affect this underwater life.
Pollution running from the streets of Sydney often heads straight into our Harbour. Seen those signs up on the beaches telling you not to swim in the water after a big storm? Those signs are there to protect you from swimming in all the muck that has washed off our streets with the stormwater. We’re lucky: we can choose not to get in this mucky water. The sea life can’t.
The good news is that over the last few years we’ve been getting better at keeping our Harbour clean. Now we’re seeing the return of fish, dolphins, whales, sharks, turtles, shellfish and even fairy penguins to our cleaner and healthier Harbour.
This is a ripper result, and it’s wonderful to know that Sydney Harbour is again healthy enough to support such a wide range of wildlife.
We don’t want to crash the good news party, but there is always some ordinary environmental news. Climate change could spell a bit of bad news for our Harbour. By 2050 sea levels are expected to rise by up to 40cm from 1990 levels, and by 90cm by 2100.
According to a recent report by the NSW Department of Climate Change, one centimetre of sea level rise could potentially result in one metre of erosion.
How you can help Sydney Harbour
Keep our Harbour clean!
* Put your rubbish in the bin and make sure it is secure. Loose litter is often blown into the streets and, eventually, our waterways, including our Harbour. * Never rinse paint into a gutter or drain.
* Clean brushes on rags, then rinse water-based paint into the garden.
* Dissolve oil-based pint in turps and dispose of via your council waste and recycling service.
* Try to go chemical free.
* Check that your car isn’t leaking oil or petrol.
* Never pour oil into the gutter or drain: just one litre of oil can contaminate millions of litres of water. Your local council can direct you to an oil disposal centre.
* Clean up after your dog. It’s only yuck if you forget the plastic bag!
The state government is in charge of what happens to the Harbour and its plants and animals. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have your say and get involved. Find out how the Premier and his gang are managing your Harbour. What are they doing about pollution, protection and conservation?
Spend some time with Sydney Harbour.
Next time you’re looking at having a day out, take a trip to the Harbour. Hop on a boat, take a walk or bike ride on one of the many trails. Maybe grab a picnic with mum and dad and head to the Harbour and soak up some nature.