australia tagged posts

Heatwave Causes Extreme Coral Bleaching In Australian Marine Park

Residents of the coral reefs in Lord Howe Island Marine Park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has been hit with widespread coral bleaching

The world’s southernmost coral reefs have fallen victim to climate change. According to reports, the Lord Howe Island Marine Park is experiencing severe coral bleaching.

In some areas, about 90 percent of reefs have been damaged. Scientists said that this is the worst coral bleaching that the UNESCO World Heritage Site has experienced in recent memory.

Warm Summer Water Causes Widespread Coral Bleaching

Researchers from Newcastle University, James Cook University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have surveyed the area for the past two weeks. They revealed that the bleaching occurred over the past summer, peaking in March, due to sustained heatwaves and warm ocean water temperature.

They also reported that the bleaching is at its most severe in shallow w...

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‘Archaic’ shark program to be abolished in Queensland

Great White Shark tagged and released

New data has revealed more than 500 sharks have been caught off Queensland as a result of a controversial shark control program. The majority of sharks were found dead and many others were euthanased over a 12-month period last year through the use of drumlines and nets.

Conservation groups say the Queensland Government program, which was established more than 50 years ago, needs to be abolished.

Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) senior marine campaigner Tooni Mahto called the practice “inhumane and archaic”.

“Under the Queensland control program there are 26 species of shark which are listed as being a threat to humans. That’s totally nonsensical,” she said.

In New South Wales, the State Government is trialling the use of “smart” drum lines, which alert authorities when an an...

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Australia offers cash for Great Barrier Reef rescue ideas

Crown-of-thorns on Great barrier Reef

Australia is calling on the world’s top scientific minds to help save the Great Barrier Reef, offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund research into protecting the world’s largest living structure. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed reef is reeling from significant coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures linked to climate change. The 2,300-km (1,400-mile) site is also under pressure from farming runoff, development and predatory crown-of-thorns starfish, with experts warning it could be suffering irreparable damage.

On Tuesday, the Australian government announced a 2.0 million Australian dollar ($1.6 million) funding pot available to people with bright ideas on how to save the reef.

“The scale of the problem is big and big thinking is needed, but it’s important to reme...

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Queensland is killing huge numbers of sharks

Grey Reef Shark

The state government in Queensland, Australia, has for five decades sought to prevent shark attacks through a program that attacks sharks. But new numbers on killed sharks off the coast of some of the world’s best beaches indicate Queensland may be a bit more bloodthirsty than necessary.

During the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the state government helped kill 621 sharks: 251 tiger sharks, 173 whaler sharks, 111 bull sharks, and eight great whites, according to Bill Byrne, Queensland’s fisheries minister. He denies that the program aims to slaughter sharks en masse, but instead seeks to trap those that are considered a direct threat to swimmers and surfers.

Environmental activists, however, argue the program targets sharks that are in some cases endangered, including, notably, the great whi...

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Crown of thorns appears in pristine parts of W Australia

Crown-of-thorns

The crown of thorns starfish which has devastated large areas of the Great Barrier Reef has infested areas around the Montebello Islands off the Pilbara coast.

Surveys going back to the mid-1970s have shown the existence of the marine invertebrates in the reefs off the Pilbara coastline. However, the numbers being currently observed are much higher than seen in previous years.

Dr John Keesing is the Senior Principal Research Scientist with the CSIRO in Perth and has recorded 185 animals per hectare.

“Above about 10 crown of thorns starfish per hectare will cause noticeable damage on coral reefs.” he told ABC Mid West and Wheatbelt.

Though the numbers are high in Western Australia, they are certainly not as high as those seen on the Great Barrier Reef.

For Dr Keesing, who began studying the...

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Late-season cyclone may ease coral bleaching threat

Coral Reef

The threat of major coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef looks to be receding with the onset of stormier weather including the formation of the first tropical cyclone of the season likely to cross the coast. Sea temperatures are warmer than average from about Townsville all the way down the coast to the NSW-Victorian border, creating one of the components for coral stress.

Unusually calm conditions over much of the Great Barrier Reef have also contributed to setting up possible bleaching events as clearer water lets more sunlight reach the sea floor. During bleaching events, corals expel the algae that provide as much as 90 per cent of the energy they need to grow and reproduce, killing some of them.

“Heat makes light toxic,” Andrew Baird, a coral reef ecologist at James Cook Univers...

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Nonsense begins again

Sean Pollard

Great Whites are killed after surfer loses arm and hand. The carcasses of two great white sharks caught off the coast of Esperance, in southern Western Australia, will be cut open after a surfer was attacked.

Sean Pollard, 23, lost part of an arm and his other hand in the attack at Kelpids Beach, Wylie Bay, on Thursday morning. He is in a stable condition in Royal Perth Hospital.

Two great white sharks were caught and killed after WA’s Department of Fisheries deployed drum lines off the beach following the incident.

The sharks have been taken to Perth by truck for research purposes, and Mr Pollard’s surfboard will also be forensically examined by shark experts.

However, the Department of Fisheries conceded it might not be possible to confirm whether the sharks killed were involved in the...

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WA corals stunted by marine heat wave

Growth Measurement of coral

WA’s most renowned coral reefs, including Ningaloo Reef, are not as protected as scientists previously thought, with new research revealing warmer water temperatures have reduced coral growth and survival rates. This reduced growth means Western Australian corals may become more vulnerable, since the South West coast is a ‘hot spot’ for ocean warming, with temperatures rising faster than other parts of the Indian Ocean.

UWA PhD student Taryn Foster investigated the growth of three coral species— Acropora pulchraPocillopora damicornis and Goniastrea aspera —at Ningaloo Reef in the north, the Houtman Abrolhos Islands in the Mid West and Marmion Reef in the south near Perth.

Ms Foster measured coral growth from 2011–2013, a time when water temperatures were unusually high.

Th...

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Shark cull in Western Australia blocked by regulator

shark cull

Western Australia’s shark cull is to be halted after the state’s environmental regulator advised against it. Earlier this year, baited traps known as drum lines were set up as a trial along seven beaches to catch sharks, after a series of fatal attacks. But the policy was controversial, with critics arguing it could damage the marine ecosystem.

The regulator cited “a high degree of scientific uncertainty” about the impact on the white shark population.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it had weighed the potential impact of the plan against the need to maintain “the diversity, geographic distribution and viability” of marine life. It made particular reference to the white shark, because it is listed as a “vulnerable” species.

Experts consulted by the EPA said there was “too...

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Great Barrier Reef ‘pretty ugly’ in 40 years

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is in the worst state it’s been in since records began and it will be ‘pretty ugly’ within 40 years, Australian scientists say. Experts claim the world’s largest reef is facing threats from coastal development, such as a massive port-related dredging project at Abbot Point, the most northerly deepwater coal port of Australia, situated 25 kilometres north of Bowen, Queensland. Farm run-off and poor water quality are also endangering the reef, scientists say.

A Senate committee is investigating how the Australian and Queensland governments have managed the reef, ahead of a UNESCO decision next year about whether to list it as a World Heritage site in danger.

The Australian Coral Reef Society – the oldest organisation in the world that studies reefs – says coral cover...

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