Navy Drops Bombs On Great Barrier Reef

Conservationists concerned about the ecosystem

An ocean reef.

An ocean reef.     Photo: Derek Keats

The U.S. Navy jettisoned four unarmed bombs over the Great Barrier Reef last week, sparking concerns among Australians that the unexploded ordnance could damage the World Heritage Site's ecosystem.

Two jets on a training exercise were supposed to drop the bombs on the nearby Townshend Island bombing range, but were forced to abort the mission when it became clear that the site was not clear of civilians.

A Navy spokesperson explained that the jets were low on fuel and that they were unable to land with the bombs onboard, forcing the emergency drop.

But Australians have expressed skepticism that the military has any concern for the environment. “How can they protect the environment and bomb the reef at the same time? Get real,” Australian environmentalist Graeme Dunstan told the Associated Press.

A study last fall revealed that half of the Great Barrier Reef's coral has disappeared in the last 30 years, with a steady decline of 1.6 percent per year since 2006.

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