Martin Flynn, 87, wrote to Erienne Lette, a Bunbury journalist, and I after an article that ran on the front page of the Bunbury Mail about his memories of our oceans in a healthier time, and his hopes for marine sanctuaries. His letter was so inspiring I rang him, and he has agreed to let me post it here.
It is so important to remember how things once were, and how they could be again, at least in some parts of our oceans. And this letter really did that for me.
Marine Sanctuaries in Bunbury
I read with interest Erienne Lette’s article in the Bunbury Mail on Wednesday, 20th April, about the proposed marine sanctuaries off Bunbury and wanted to comment on the changes I have seen in the ocean and estuaries around Bunbury over the past eighty odd years.
I was born in 1924 and moved to Bunbury when I was three years old. As I grew up my brothers and I would spend many a day swimming and fishing around Bunbury. We would pack our lunch in a sugar bad (which we would later use to store any fish or crabs we caught) and cycle off for the day. When I think back to these days I remember the sense of freedom we had and the certainty that we carried with us that wherever we chose to stop we would be guaranteed a wonderful array of healthy fish swimming past.
Our favourite place to swim and fish was the Jetty Baths beach in Bunbury, where we would see many fish swimming though the jetty and out to sea. There were all types of fish: tailor, dhufish, snapper, amongst others, and they were all big, healthy fish. We would also ride over to the Skeleton Bridge- where Koombana Bay meets the Leschenault Inlet – and as the water flowed through under the bridge we would see large numbers of healthy, big fish swimming thought.
Another favourite pastime was crabbing, and all we would need was the ability to scoop the crabs out of the estuary as it was teeming with them.
I am now 87 years old and still enjoy living neat the ocean in Bunbury. I have always loved the ocean, and would swim and walk the beach most days thoughout my life until my ability to walk too far got the better of me. I have a great respect for the ocean and the estuaries, and I have some wonderful memories of swimming, fishing and crabbing here in Bunbury throughout my life.
It would make my day to know that the diversity of marine life that I remember from my childhood has a chance to restore itself through the implementation of marine sanctuaries. I have watched with great sadness over the years the demise of the healthy stock of fish I remember from the childhood, and feel hopeful that this idea for marine sanctuaries along the coast may be one way where we can restore the balance.