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Leonardo DiCaprio invited back to Great Barrier Reef for dive with environmental minister

Australia's environment minister Greg Hunt has invited celebrity eco-warrior and marine conservationist Leonardo DiCaprio to join him for a dive at the Great Barrier Reef in a bid to prove he's deadly serious about cleaning up the natural wonder.

Hunt wowed a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) panel at the 39th World Heritage Committee with his plans to protect the coral reef on Thursday (02Jul15), and now he wants to impress the movie star, who was critical of his country's conservation plans last year (14).

DiCaprio was horrified when he took a dive at the Great Barrier Reef in 2012, because it wasn't the underwater paradise he remembered from his experience there two decades before.

He told an oceans committee in Washington, D.C., "Since my very first dive in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia 20 years ago to the dive I got to do in the very same location just two years ago, I’ve witnessed environmental devastation first-hand. What once had looked like an endless underwater utopia is now riddled with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones.

"Unfortunately today, there’s no proper law enforcement capacity and little accountability for violating the law. It’s the Wild West on the high seas."

But Hunt insists things are changing on his watch and he's now working on a major 30-year plan to clean up the reef.

The politician tells News Corp Australia, "I think everyone will say that there’s been unprecedented change in Australia and we would invite everybody, including Mr DiCaprio, to come dive the reef and see the best of it and see that it is still the world’s greatest reef.

"It is majestic and there are challenges but everybody should be made aware of that and what we have seen is not just an endorsement of the Australian response and management but recognition it is the Great Barrier Reef.

"I think that may cause the critics to perhaps rethink and acknowledge that when the world praises our environmental leadership that should not be ignored."

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