Seabirds are eating plastic litter in our oceans – but not only where you’d expect


Microplastic consumption by creatures above and below the water is my real concern. My uni colleagues and I produced a video on microplastics for a third year class and it brought home the ongoing problems when zooplankton are consuming microbeads and passing them up the food chain. If a blue whale eats up to 40 million krill per day, what percentage will contain plastics and what is the bioaccumulation in that top predator? Scary stuff

Originally posted on News @ CSIRO:

albatross marine debris

Chris Wilcox, CSIRO; Britta Denise Hardesty, CSIRO, and Erik van Sebille, Imperial College London

Many of you may have already seen the photograph above, of an albatross carcass full of undigested plastic junk. But how representative is that of the wider issue facing seabirds?

To help answer that question, we carried out the first worldwide analysis of the threat posed by plastic pollution to seabird species.

Our study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that nearly 60% of all seabird species studied so far have had plastic in their gut. This figure is based on reviewing previous reports in the scientific literature, but if we use a statistical model to infer what would be found at the current time and include unstudied species, we expect that more than 90% of seabirds have eaten plastic rubbish.

Rising tide of plastic

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Filling the Gaps of Australia’s Commonwealth Marine Reserve System


There’s more confrontations expected between recreational/commercial fishers, government MPA planners and conservationists over the issue of marine parks. A lot of the spearfishing sites and Facebook groups I follow have regular posts on the ‘unnecessary’ expansion of marine parks, citing either anecdotal evidence (i.e. author’s opinion) or at best, out-of-context quotes from academic papers. I’m proudly a keen spearfisher too but have no time for people in the sport who decry marine parks while displaying constant photos of their undersized or over the limit kills.
There needs to be more clear, science-based communication from the government on why marine parks are needed, how fishers, conservation groups and regular folk all benefit and also, where any marine parks have been placed in the wrong areas and need to be reassessed. Because the latter has and will continue to happen, and pretending it doesn’t only serves to strengthen the case of anti-marine park activists

Originally posted on Jennifer McGowan's Research:

Australia’s Commonwealth Marine Reserve System is currently under review. I wrote a submission with Prof. Possingham on behalf of the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions tackling the issue of representation in the current reserve network.

Key findings of our analysis:

  • Less than 3% of shelf habitats are protected in the strictest IUCN MPA Categories ( Ia and II)
  • Twenty-two percent of bioregions have less than 10% protection in any form of MPA category- (the most liberal conservation scheme we could analyse)
  • While there is no scope to augment the existing reserve boundaries, there is potential to better protect the diverse range of habitats found within the broader network and ensure that every bioregion benefits from at least one strict MPA class

You can view the full submission here.

piecharts_AUSTRALIA copy

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Weekend Wanderings: Photos Along the Bay



Some days, when I’m sitting at my work desk trying to understand another journal paper on water sensitivity (no it’s not a medical condition), I think back to the simple times way back in 2013 in my marine science classes when we discussed chitons, radulas and which phylum these amazing creatures fit into – have a guess without looking it up!

Originally posted on Dalton Koss HQ:

Visitors to coastal shores often come across unusual looking animals hidden in rock crevices. Here at Dalton Koss HQ we strive to help make sense of these unusual sea creatures by sharing our marine knowledge.

Chitons are one of these more unusual finds that many coastal visitors find on the rocky shoreline. With the Ch pronounced as a k sound, chitons have a fossilised appearance due to their numerous armoured plates. In fact, some people call Chitons the armadillos of the ocean as they are able to curl up into a ball using their armoured plates as protection.


The armoured plates grow from the head to the foot of their body providing protection and camouflage from predators, hence why this animal is also commonly known as the coat-of-mail. The actual animal grows and lives under these armoured plates and its body is not segmented like its armour.

Here are…

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ARC Research Associate – Ocean acidification on benthic marine life

Originally posted on Ocean acidification:

Job no:493373
Work type:Fixed term – Full-time
Categories:Faculty of Sciences

Closing date: 10 April 2015

The University of Adelaide is one of Australia’s leading Group of Eight, research-intensive universities and is consistently ranked among the top 1% of universities in the world. Established in 1874, it is Australia’s third oldest university with a strong reputation for preparing educated leaders and delivering research outcomes that contribute to local, national and global wellbeing.

The Faculty of Sciences is one of five faculties at the University of Adelaide. As the first university in Australia to grant degrees in science (1882), science has long been at the cornerstone of the institution and this continues today. As a research and education leader in fields such as biomedical sciences, agricultural, environmental and earth sciences, and photonics, the faculty offers an exciting and innovative work environment.

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Shark Attack 2: Revenge of the Tabloid Headline Writer

Sydney's Daily Telegraph, constant offenders on the 'savage man-killing shark' front

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, constant offenders on the ‘savage man-killing shark’ front

When I was Sydney last October, preparing for the IUCN World Parks Congress with the French marine protected areas agency, this headline above was splashed in similar formats across several Australian newspapers.

Shark scientists were kept very busy responding to misinformation, stupidity and downright dangerous reporting in the Australian spring and summer – and this headline (and the strapline above it about the ‘4.5m monster’ shark) summed up the challenge they and shark conservationists face. It was absurd for the writer and editor to let this go through:

  • the surfer’s arms were not ‘ripped off’, the writers make it clear in the introduction that he lost parts of both arms
  • a 4.5m shark (if that was even the correct size) is not a monster in size. If it had been a validated sighting of a 6m white shark, I would have been more impressed.

My most popular article from this irregularly-updated blog is another shark attack post that made exactly the same criticisms I can make two years later. I image the people googling that phrase came across the post, saw it was attaching the whole tabloid concept of ‘shark attacks’ and left to find juicy photos of actual shark encounters.

Because that’s what these incidents are: encounters. The increased populations around coastal areas in the warmer months, coupled with overfishing of shark prey species, surfers spending longer in the ocean due to thicker and more comfortable wetsuits, climate change and other unpredictable factors, is leading to more encounters with sharks. And if one in 1000 of those encounters ends in a shark bite, we shouldn’t be surprised every time and call for that shark’s head. This only supports the view of shark fishers that they are removing dangerous animals from the ocean, rather than murdering an endangered animal (in the case of some shark species).

Australian Geographic posted a great article about shark research that revealed we are to blame for shark attacks due to the factors mentioned above. And no matter how big a year we have for shark ‘assaults’, it pales in creation to deaths from car crashes, domestic injuries and even bee stings:

So far in 2011, there have been at least 61 recorded attacks and 10 deaths. However, compared to deaths from smoking, road accidents, lightning strikes or even other animal attacks, the risk is minute, say experts.

So please can we stop with the tabloid shark bashing, stick to the boring but correct title of shark encounters and help target the real villains in this debate: fishing trawlers that are destroying the shark-prey food chain and governments who keep approving shark hunting after each encounter in the misguided view that killing that one ‘manhunter’ shark will end the chance of any further shark bites.

Wilsons Promontory – amazing spot for coastal hiking

Anyone who has ever travelled a decent amount of Australia could make a list of their top 10 places to visit. When it comes to Victoria, the most common one I hear is the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles.

Having lived for three years at the end of the GOR and within an hour of the Apostles, I admit they are impressive, easy to get to  and make for some nice tourist happy snaps. But for some of Australia’s best (southern) beaches, Wilsons Promontory – known as the Prom – beats anything that big windy road has to offer.

Do a Google Search for Wilsons Prom though and beyond the great Parks Victoria pages, it’s hard to find a decent site with much details on things to do and see at the Prom. This despite the region having some of Australia’s best hiking, most beautiful beaches in the right conditions and a variety of overly-friendly wildlife (see third photo of the wallaby who wouldn’t leave us alone).


Refuge Cove, Wilsons Prom

Refuge Cove above is an amazing spot – we were lucky to do the 16km hike over there from the Mt Oberon carpark in perfect cool hiking weather and only had five other couples in the spacious campground. Conditions are primitive – people who need five-star chalets or resorts at the end of a leisurely hike should go elsewhere. The tracks can get muddy and toilets at the Sealers Cove and Refuge Cove campgrounds are basic but fresh spring water is readily available at both sites. The cove is within a marine park BUT not the marine national park, so fishing is permitted. I carried a small and fairly useless handspear in my pack and caught some goatfish. The best part of the dive (in only boardshorts) was the variety of fish species spotted and the novelty of spearing without a thick wetsuit!


Waterloo Bay, within the Wilsons Prom Marine National Park. Wow.

There are several choices for camping along the hike. As we had only three days and the need for five guys to have ready access to cold beer, two nights in Tidal River and one at Refuge Cove made sense. But with more time, another night at Sealers, Waterloo Bay (above) or the Lighthouse would have been worthwhile. The last two places are within the Marine National Park area, where fishing is banned and the inshore fish life is obviously thriving. Blue gropers and moray eels are common here, unlike open access coastal areas further west.

Wilsons Prom is well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in Australia’s natural beauty. It’s a totally different experience to the tropical Great Barrier Reef islands or our inland forests and for those with a reasonable level of fitness, has some challenging and rewarding hikes on offer.

This wallaby is definitely used to human company

This wallaby is definitely used to human company

Victorians show their passion for marine science


Great event at the Melbourne Museum last week detailing some amazing marine science projects. One presenter told us exactly where the Southern Ocean is- many of my lecturers repeatedly insisted it was on Warrnambool’s doorstep, turns out it’s only concentrated around Antarctica. Interesting presentations from Peter on blue carbon and Kate on the chaing and newly-classified Burrunan dolphin

Originally posted on Prue Addison's Research:

Over 200 members of the general public attended the sold out event “Showcasing Victoria’s Marine Science” at Museum Victoria last week. This event aimed to showcase some of the most cutting edge research being conducted by Victorian marine scientists, and was hosted by the Australian Marine Sciences Association Victoria branch and Museum Victoria.

Showcasing Victoria’s Marine Science event logo. Featuring underwater image by Dr Julian Finn, Museum Victoria.

We handpicked six marine scientists to share their diverse and inspiring research stories with the general public. Here are stories from three of our presenters:

Dr Peter Macreadie, from the University of Technology Sydney, shared his bright ideas for blue carbon: “Reducing carbon emissions is an important approach to tackling climate change, but too frequently we forget that we have another weapon up our sleeves: ‘biosequestration’, which is the natural process of using plants, trees, and soils to capture and store…

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2014 in review #ocean #conservation #science #blogging

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,200 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

#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



Sylvia Earle being interviewed at Ocean+ pavilion


Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, Manly, Sydney



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