Plastic rubbish is a growing concern, I’ve written about it previously and follow the efforts of others like the Plastiki expedition to aim to increase awareness of oceanic plastic pollution. One sentence in this article really sums up the scale of the problem: “When you consider that six million tonnes of fishing gear is lost in the oceans each year, yet derelict fishing gear doesn’t even crack the top ten most common items found during coastal clean-ups, you begin to grasp the scale of the problem”
Originally posted on News @ CSIRO:
By 2050, 95% of seabirds will have plastic in their gut. That is just one finding from our national marine debris research project, the largest sample of marine debris data ever collected anywhere in the world.
The statistic is just one prediction of what’s in store if we don’t come to grips with the growing problem of rubbish at sea.
The issue of marine debris was recently brought to the world’s attention by the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which was reportedly hampered by objects that look similar to aircraft remains.
When you consider that six million tonnes of fishing gear is lost in the oceans each year, yet derelict fishing gear doesn’t even crack the top ten…
View original 976 more words
While putting together a presentation for a Marine Biology subject on lionfish (and throwing in the recent controversy over plagiarised lionfish research), I struggled to find much research on an equivalent marine creature that has developed the same low salinity tolerance.
There were papers on the more well-known euryhaline species (those that tolerate wide ranges of salinities) but surprisingly little on bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) and their emergence as key predators in northern Australian rivers and lakes. This is strange given the heavy reporting on shark attacks far upstream in the Brisbane Times, Courier Mail and ABC TV among others.
Juvenile bull sharks have even been found in golf course lakes and unconfirmed reports stated there have been sightings in the Wivenhoe Dam. From what I could find in my research, freshwater bull sharks had a less-developed rectal gland (along with kidnyes, responsible for salt excretion) than their marine cousins and adults were less likely to shift back into marine waters from their freshwater range.
As for competition with longer-term inhabitants of the region:
Originally posted on Ocean acidification:
The Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) invites everyone to a free public lecture as part of the Sustainability in the Anthropocene series.
Event date: Wednesday, 10 September 2014
Event time: 1-2pm
Event location: Theatre C, Old Arts Building, University of Melbourne
Ocean acidification is potentially one of the most pervasive and persistent global environmental problems we face. Yet despite its widespread economic, social and ecological consequences, the issue is poorly understood by the public and by politicians and wrongly seen as merely one among the many adverse impacts of climate change. This talk first reviews the current science of ocean acidification. Then, using Australia as its focus, it addresses the puzzle of why ocean acidification has been poorly recognised as a policy issue to date and considers remedies to its obscurity.
View original 129 more words
love these amateur shots of whale sharks – i’ve seen so many professional photos of these animals that have been retouched and shaded in various blues until they look nothing like the real creature. Being in the water with just one is a special experience
Originally posted on cook4edi:
We have heard a lot about Whales and have seen pictures of the same in our school books or videos of the same on National Geographic Channel. Ever wondered what the experience would be like, when they appear right in front of your eyes? I had a chance to swim with one and the experience was one of its kind. On one side was fear and on the other was excitement and eagerness to experience what it feels like.
So I headed out very early in the morning with family and friends towards the Southern tip of Cebu City, a 4 hour drive (about 120 km) to see this amazing sea creature, the “Whale Shark” which is locally known as Butanding. Before heading out, i did some research on this creature to be sure that i don’t get gulped as was the case of Jonah (Jonah 1:17
View original 250 more words
As is becoming common this time of year, my Twitter feed has been swamped with Shark Week vitriol – from swimmers who are now more afraid to go in the water to scientists angry at the lack of consultation that goes into a few of the fake documentaries appearing during the event.
Apart from the fact Discovery Channel ignores the rest of the world when it comes to sharing Shark Week with non-Americans, from what I’ve seen of the clips there seems to be a dearth of well-researched, informative programming.
Christie Wilcox writes for the Discover Magazine and her summaries of the week should be required reading for anyone watching Shark Week, including this post on falling ratings and viewer angst:
“It’s the third day of Shark Week, and Discovery has already come under fire for their programming choices. Their big special on kick-off night—Shark of Darkness: The Wrath of Submarine—turned out to be another fake documentary, making up people and events to perpetuate the idea that a 30+ ft long great white patrols the coast of South Africa. The legend of Submarine is a particularly fishy topic choice, as its origin can be traced to the 1970s when some journalists decided to make up a story to see how gullible their readers were.”
As some commenters have noted this week, if the focus was spread from great whites to lesser-known threatened species of sharks, their public profile and survival chances might improve. A great white throwing a seal pup in the air or biting a cage might make for exciting TV but shouldn’t the week be about promoting all sharks, not just the most photogenic ones?
Australia’s CSIRO has a new ship for scientific research and as they say here, it definitely looks amazing in this drone and GoPro footage. Would like to hitch a ride one day to see what their voyages are like
Originally posted on Investigator @ CSIRO:
A few months ago one of RV Investigator’s crew members had the brilliant idea of grabbing his drone before jumping on board for the scientific sea trials.
Then, some of the Marine National Facility support staff got creative with a GoPro and captured on board images and some action shots of equipment being deployed.
The ship looks amazing!
Dredging and bottom trawling of Port Phillip Bay in Victoria have destroyed most of the natural shellfish reefs in the 230 years since European settlement of Australia.
This new plan reported in the Age newspaper last week will help to restore shellfish reefs in the bay with the aim of increasing habitat for flathead, snapper and other commercially and recreationally valuable fish.
Shellfish reefs will be re-created on the bottom of Port Phillip Bay in a historic project that aims to improve marine habitats in Victoria’s largest bay.
Researchers say that if the reefs can be successfully established as expected, they would provide healthy habitats for shellfish like mussels and oysters. They would also provide habitat, shelter and food options for fish such as snapper, flathead, rockling and many other fish that live in the bay. They would also help improve water quality.
Shells from mussels, scallops and oysters that have been discarded by the seafood industry and restaurants could be sought as part of the project. They would eventually be placed in the bay at one of three locations, in order to form a base for the early stage of the shellfish reefs. Some artificial material could also be used.
But the project requires more than old shells. Millions of baby oysters and mussels, which will be bred at the Victorian Shellfish Hatchery at Queenscliff, will be used to colonise the reefs in the $270,000 pilot project. The baby oysters and mussels will attach themselves to shells at the hatchery, before they are placed in the water on top of the old shells.
The project, to commence this year, is expected to be formally announced on Saturday by Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh, the minister responsible for fisheries. It will be funded jointly, with $120,000 from the state’s Recreational Fishing Initiative, and $150,000 from The Nature Conservancy, an international organisation that undertakes conservation works around the world.
A patchwork of reefs will be restored at three locations, near Geelong, Chelsea and St Kilda, in about eight to 12 metres of water.
While I’m missing the summer flat spells and warm weather activities, there’s something special about winter on the Shipwreck Coast. No tourists around, fresh cold southerlies and some calm clear days when the whiting are biting! Here’s a few shots of the local marine sanctuary from last week- some heavy downpours have caused the river to flood but the area still looks petty impressive.
In the midst of my final year of university and having a baby daughter join the family, I’ve also been organising with the French marine agency AAMP to help them out at the World Parks Congress in Sydney in November.
I enjoyed working with some AAMP members in Fiji last year and was keen to join them again for this major event, so hopefully it works out that I can help them with media and communications in the lead-up to and during the event.
In the meantime I’ve been freelancing as an adviser to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and helping them put together a promotional video featuring their local staff and the coastal and farming landscapes in this area.
Speaking of which, Warrnambool photographer Oat Vaiyaboon has been shooting some great footage with his drone and GoPro, including this recent effort:
This is a great recent video from the Friends of the Merri Marine Sanctuary, a small and dedicated group helping – as one goal – to remind local people about the amazing natural features and marine life on their doorstep.
At a lecture and networking day on the weekend hosted by Deakin University and the Victorian National Parks Association, a member of the Friends group mentioned how hard it can be to get the support and interest of people outside the conservation community. I could see similar parallels with another spectacular occurrence that Warrnambool people often ignore.
Living near one of the calving grounds for southern right and humpback whales, people in this area can tend to be ambivalent about the excitement generated in the tourism industry each time the whale watching season approaches.
A recent humorous list of 30 things only a local would understand had this gem at number 23:
Funny (maybe just as a Warrnambool local) but it highlights that disinterest I spoke of – we’re happy the whales are here but we’re just as happy to ignore them because it doesn’t suit us to stand around for hours (and it can be hours between ‘showings’). Same goes for conservation – local people are generally happy that someone is doing it but not bothered to get involved themselves.
What can you do with apathy like that? It was an open question to the weekend’s session and though there were some good suggestions, as usual it was hard to come up with the perfect answer. My idea was to keep the good work these people do at the forefront, tell the media, tell politicians, help to get relevant policy change at the state and federal level and let your own passion inspire other people. Al Gore was one who helped ‘cure’ apathy over climate change on a global level but it’s even more important to make small communities like ours care about the natural wonders they take for granted.