#WorldParksCongress wraps up #WPCMarine

I worked some of the longest days of my career at World Parks Congress and dealt with a variety of event teething issues never experienced before. On the upside, I met some amazing people (including the wonderful Sylvia Earle, who I interviewed for our webtv channel) and worked with a great team from the French Marine Protected Areas Agency. Please make sure you check out our videos at http://oceanplus.tv/en/

 

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Sylvia Earle being interviewed at Ocean+ pavilion

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Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, Manly, Sydney

 

Marine stream videos from #WorldParksCongress

While working in Sydney on the #‎WorldParksCongress‬, I’ve been helping the French Marine Protected Areas Agency with their Oceanplus webtv channel. Day 4 video updtae is now online for the ‪#‎WPCMarine‬ stream, focusing on useful & efficient MPAs and featuring UQ Global Change Institute Director Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, @envirogov’s National Parks Director Sally Barnes & more guests.

All videos produced so far can be viewed at: http://www.oceanplus.tv/en/

Filming sights of Sydney for Agence des aires marines protégées

Sydney ferry, view to Port Denison and CBD

Sydney ferry, view to Port Denison and CBD

I’ve been showing one of the Agence des aires marines protégées (French Agency for Marine Protected Areas) video team around Sydney over the past few days, filming at the Sydney Fish Market, Bondi Beach, Circular Quay and marine-focused touristy spots. Perfect weekend for it and the trip across to Taronga Zoo (pictured) provided some great footage.

Looking forward to World Parks Congress kicking off on Wednesday, so much prep work has gone into it over the past four months!

From Hardliners TV star to rusting away at a Sydney pier

Since digital television hit Australia a few years ago, the influx of new channels an increase in airtime has not only surprised audiences but broadcasters as well.

Channel 10’s digital offering, with the bland and unhelpful title ONE (since I’ve never seen it linked to an actual channel 1 on any digital TV) showed early promise as a sports broadcaster but switched to mostly reality offerings.

One of the better shows they picked up from cable TV was Hardliners, which featured tuna longline boat captains plying their trade. It was an attempt to show the ‘battle’ between captains for bragging rights but did more in showing how tough it becomes to just break even when chasing endangered or critically endangered species (for those targeting Southern Bluefin Tuna at least). Conservation issues aside, it did feature some colourful characters, as you’d expect on any commercial fishing boat not captained by George Clooney.

While checking out Sydney Fish Market this week (another shadow of its former self), I spotted a tuna longliner docked close to the market. A nearby tackle shop owner told me the ship, Santo Rocco Di Bagnara, was captained by Tony Lagana in the Hardliners series but had now been out of the water (not literally) for about 12 months.

Whether it was commercial licence or storage capacity issues was unclear – the shop owner said the boat had been also used for crabbing and had discovered some new territory with abundant edible crab species but had, in his perspective, been unfairly targeted by NSW Fisheries and forced out of the game.

Many conservationists would be cheering at the loss of a tuna longline boat but the news made me (not so secretly) wish I could spend a day on board one of these boats – to see firsthand the fish they are catching,  the amount and type of bycatch picked up and the sort of people who work commercial boats these days. My guess is they are less George Clooney/Mark Wahlberg types and more like the Hardliner boys, many of whom actually care about sustainable fishing as well as trying to make a buck.

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Deck of the Santo Rocco di Bagnara

Satellite trackers on the Santo Rocco

Satellite trackers on the Santo Rocco

Train to airport to Sydney to home to writing essays to airport again…

Bondi baby!

Bondi baby!

Can’t complain about having too much work lately (and seeing the latest unemployment figures there’s nothing I can whinge about that would gain me any sympathy) and I’m off to Sydney again on Sunday for more World Parks Congress preparation with L’Agence des aires marines protégées (French Agency for Marine Protected Areas).

I was lucky to head down to check out Bondi Beach one afternoon between meetings and phone calls. Growing up in northern Sydney, Bondi was always seen as a tourist beach where us northerners never ventured – now I’m a tourist in my birthplace so can throw out those old preconceptions!

Really looking forward to the Congress and meeting people from around the world who are keen on protecting our land and marine parks. I’ll be back there for three weeks in November, just after finishing my final exam of my Marine Biology degree!!! Hope to get the chance for a few beers to celebrate that and also the exciting news of scoring a new job in Melbourne. It will be sad to leave Warrnambool – anyone who has read this blog will get the idea I’m partial to living down here but with a six-month-daughter now in our lives and better job opportunities in the big city, it makes sense to head back there.

The oceans are full of our plastic – here’s what we can do about it

oceanicexplorer:

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:

Marine debris on a beach

Parts of Australia’s coastline are littered with plastic rubbish, which finds its way into the oceans.

By Britta Denise Hardesty, CSIRO and Chris Wilcox, 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…

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Bull sharks – salinity tolerance little-studied despite river attacks

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:

 

Ocean acidification and policy failure

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.

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What happens when a creature 5 times your size appears right in front of your eyes??

oceanicexplorer:

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

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Shark Week snubs scientists, increases fear of sharks

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 Submarineturned 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? 

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