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The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, but much of its lifecycle remains shrouded in mystery. These gentle giants gather in just a handful of places around the globe – something which has long baffled scientists – but our new research has started to explain why.
Better understanding of whale shark movements could help prevent further population loss in a species that has already experienced a 63% population decline over the past 75 years.
Are there more sharks in Australian waters than there used to be, and are interactions between humans and shark increasing? Some Australian politicians have claimed that to be the case.
Let’s look at the research.
After several sightings of protected Humpback whales migrating along the east coast over the past two weeks, NSW Department of Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has announced the second NSW North Coast net trial will come to an end. "NSW has removed shark nets whilst only a few kilometres across the border in the Gold Coast bay whale entanglements will continue.
More than 1/3 of recorded Humpback whale incidents along the Queensland coastline are in fact due to the Queensland Shark Control Program and we urgently need to change the current practice in light of an increasing whale population.
4 May 2018
Scientists from James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science have developed a new method to study microplastics swallowed by sea turtles.
17 Apr 2018
Thanks to movies and nature videos, many people know that bizarre creatures live in the ocean’s deepest, darkest regions.
They include viperfish with huge mouths and big teeth, and anglerfish, which have bioluminescent lures that make their own light in a dark world.
However, the world’s deepest-dwelling fish – known as a hadal snailfish – is small, pink and completely scaleless. Its skin is so transparent that you can see right through to its liver. Nonetheless, hadal snailfish are some of the most successful animals found in the ocean’s deepest places.
1 February 2018
Shark attack deaths are very rare, with only about two per year in Australia. But every year without fail, people die from shark bites, both here and around the world. The United States records by far the most unprovoked shark bites, an average of 45 per year over the past decade. However, only 1.3% of these incidents were fatal, 0.6 deaths per year. Australia records fewer bites than the US, an average of 14 per year but a much greater proportion of them are deadly: close to 11%. What is it that makes Australia more prone to deadly shark attacks?
1 November 2017
Tiger sharks are one of the most successful large predators in the world’s oceans, but studying what they eat has been a challenge for researchers.
Historically diet is studied through examining stomach contents, but scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and collaborators are leading the way in understanding more about the feeding habits of sharks from their skin tissue. This allows us to learn about shark diet based on a quick non-lethal approach.
9 November 2017
Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) are a regular sight in the waters
around Australia, including the Bunbury area in Western Australia where they attract tourists.
The dolphin population here, about 180 km south of Perth, has been studied quite intensively since 2007 by the Murdoch University Cetacean Unit. We know the dolphins here have seasonal patterns of abundance, with highs in summer/autumn (the breeding season) and lows in winter/spring.
But in winter 2009, the dolphin population fell by more than half.
9 October 2017
Shark diving tourism is a growing industry estimated to be worth more than $25.5 million annually to Australia’s regional economy.
12 September 2017
The federal government’s new draft marine park plans are based on an unsubstantiated premise: that protection of Australia’s ocean wildlife is consistent with activities such as fishing and oil and gas exploration. Under the proposed plans, there would be no change to the boundaries of existing marine parks, which cover 36% of Commonwealth waters, or almost 2.4 million square kilometres. But many areas inside these boundaries will be rezoned to allow for a range of activities besides conservation.
24 July 2017
Sunfish spotting: four-year search discovers first new species in 130 years.
Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia and her team have discovered a new species of Sunfish in New Zealand.
For more on the discovery follow the link below to the Cosmos article.
20 July 2017
Putting the mass coral bleaching event in 2016 into a 30+ year context
The AIMS Long-term Monitoring Program has released an update on the condition of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) based on survey data gathered across the entire GBR over the last 32 years. The update, which assesses data captured up to February 2017, describes a system under considerable pressure.
24 September 2017
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when confronted with reports of the second mass bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef in as many years. But there is a way to help scientists monitor the reef’s condition.
Scientists have found exceptionally diverse and abundant coral-reef fish communities at submerged oceanic shoals near Ashmore Reef some 400 kilometres off north-western Australia.
March 23 2017
In the wake of the Great Barrier Reef’s most intense coral bleaching event, researchers at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) report that predicted increases in the intensity of tropical cyclones due to climate change could greatly accelerate coral reef degradation and make it far more difficult for reefs to bounce back from disturbances.
The first creatures to evolve teeth didn’t have jaws. Many scientists believe these ancient fish developed the first tooth-like structures on their skin that were similar to the “denticle” scales that still cover sharks today, even after 500m years of evolution. It is thought that these denticles gradually migrated into the mouth to form oral teeth. However, research conducted by my colleagues and I suggests modern teeth – at least in sharks – may have also evolved from taste buds.
18 January 2017
Researchers from The University of Western Australia and Australian Institute of Marine Science, (AIMS) and collaborators across the Indian Ocean have completed a huge photo-identification study to assess the seasonal habits of whale sharks in the tropics. They were surprised to discover that the male juveniles didn’t seem to venture too far from home.
While Japan’s new whaling program dominated the IWC’s summit last month, a Chilean-sponsored resolution nicknamed the “whale poo” resolution was also quietly adopted at the meeting.
Light pollution is changing the day-night cycle of some fish, dramatically affecting their feeding behaviour.
Imagine that you are constantly eating, but slowly starving to death. Hundreds of species of marine mammals, fish, birds, and sea turtles face this risk every day when they mistake plastic debris for food.
14 November 2016
In response to the news today that NSW Premier Mike Baird will approve shark mesh nets for Ballina NSW, Sea Shepherd Australia had the following response.
October 12 2016
The federal government is considering changes to Australia’s marine reserves to implement a national system. This week The Conversation is looking at the science behind marine reserves and how to protect our oceans.
4 Oct 2016
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird has this week announced a plan for a six-month trial of shark nets off the beaches of northern NSW. This would extend the state’s shark net program from the 51 beaches currently netted between Wollongong and Newcastle.
15 Oct 2016
A NEW species of spider crab has been named, more than 50 years after the first specimen was lodged at the Western Australian Museum.
The global offshore oil and gas industry has installed a wide variety of infrastructure throughout our oceans, including tens of thousands of wells, thousands of platforms and many thousands of kilometres of seabed pipelines.
10 August 2016
Scientists are looking for physical vulnerabilities in the coral-eating Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS) in order to mitigate their harmful impacts on coral reefs when in plague numbers.
In their pursuit of an Achilles heel, scientists have focused on the animal’s ability to perceive its environment through its senses. Research has already demonstrated that adult COTS have a well-developed sense of smell, touch and taste. Better understanding these aspects of COTS biology may lead to new methods to either disperse or attract them in order to control their numbers.
11 August 2016
Controlling repeated outbreaks of the coral-eating Crown-of-Thorns Starfish, Acanthaster planci, is one of the greatest challenges facing resource managers of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Pacific triton (Charonia tritonis, also known as the “giant triton”) is a large marine snail that inhabits coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region. They are rare; historical evidence of harvesting levels is scant, however scientists speculate that overharvesting of the snails for the meat and shell has led to threatened status throughout their range. As such, tritons have been protected on the GBR for decades.
25 July 2016
In a partnership between Sea Shepherd, Byron Shire Council and the Member for Ballina Tamara Smith MLA, a feasibility study for shark spotting will take place at Wategos Beach after Mayor Simon Richardson successful moved a Mayoral Minute to support it at last weeks Council meeting.
Despite reported claims and counter claims over the last month about the ‘death’ of large swathes of the Great Barrier Reef, the true impact of this summer’s major coral bleaching event is now emerging. Preliminary findings from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) show approximately three quarters of coral on the Reef has survived to date. The vast majority of the impact is in the northern third of the Reef, from Port Douglas to Cape York, with the central and southern regions escaping significant mortality.
AIMS June 3 2016
WHEN Geoff Bastyan noticed Seagrass disappearing from harbours in Albany nearly 50 years ago, he would never have predicted his observation would lead to the most successful seagrass restoration in the world.
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is in the midst of a period of mass coral bleaching, part of a wider event affecting coral reefs globally. Surveys by air and sea reveal that bleaching is widespread across the Reef, but that the severity is not uniform.
The data collected shows that the severity of bleaching that will cause mortality to the coral community has been restricted to the upper third of the GBR, from Port Douglas north.
Western Australian reefs feel the heat from global bleaching event. Scientists aboard AIMS research vessel Solander at Scott Reef, an isolated coral reef system located 250 km off the northwest coast of Western Australia, are reporting 60-90% of corals in water depths of up to 15 m have bleached and that wide-spread mortality is already evident.
This past week, as field observations and aerial surveys of severe bleaching poured in from Cairns north to Torres Strait, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) lifted its response...
31 March 2016
The Queensland Fisheries Minister, Leanne Donaldson has revealed in a letter to Independent MP, Peter Wellington, that the Department has requested a permit for additional drum lines in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park for the potential future trialing of new technology such as smart drum lines.
29 March 2016
Sea Shepherd crew aligned with the Apex Harmony Campaign, have made a gruesome discovery of two rare mobula rays, which appear to be Japanese Devilrays, dead in a shark net, 100 meters from each other at Miami Beach on the Gold Coast. One of the rays, had two large bites within its body, appearing to have come from a shark.