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As concern grows over human-induced climate change, many scientists are looking back through Earth’s history to events that can shed light on changes occurring today. Analyzing how the planet’s climate system has changed in the past improves our understanding of how it may behave in the future.
It is now clear from these studies that abrupt warming events are built into Earth’s climate system. They have occurred when disturbances in carbon storage at Earth’s surface released greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. One of the grand challenges for climate scientists like me is to determine where these releases came from before humans were present, and what triggered them. Importantly, we want to know if such an event could happen again.
Humans have a long history of living on water. Our water homes span the fishing villages in Southeast Asia, Peru and Bolivia to modern floating homes in Vancouver and Amsterdam.
As our cities grapple with overcrowding and undesirable living situations, the ocean remains a potential frontier for sophisticated water-based communities.
New research has revealed that marine turtle hatchlings entering the ocean close to jetties have a high likelihood of being eaten.
The study, published today in Biological Conservation, found structures such as jetties are an attractive shelter for hungry fish as they lie in wait for an easy evening meal.
One of the ocean’s top predators – the tiger shark - has been revealed as a relaxed and sometimes lazy hunter by scientists studying their behavior.
Researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Murdoch University’s Harry Butler Institute attached specialist tags which combined cameras with motion and environmental sensors, to 27 tiger sharks in the Ningaloo Reef off the coast of Western Australia.
More than 70% of recreational fishers support no-take marine sanctuaries according to our research, published recently in Marine Policy.
This study contradicts the popular perception that fishers are against establishing no-take marine reserves to protect marine life. In fact, the vast majority of fishers we surveyed agreed that no-take sanctuaries improve marine environmental values, and do not impair their fishing.
Much of the Great Barrier Reef is legally protected in an effort to conserve and rebuild the fragile marine environment. Marine reserves are considered the gold standard for conservation, and often shape our perception of what an “undisturbed ecosystem” should look like.
However research published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, suggests that “no-take” marine reserves may be failing shark populations on the Great Barrier Reef.
The devastating bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017 rightly captured the world’s attention. But what’s less widely known is that another World Heritage-listed marine ecosystem in Australia, Shark Bay, was also recently devastated by extreme temperatures, when a brutal marine heatwave struck off Western Australia in 2011.
There has been a striking decline in the number of large sharks caught off Queensland’s coast over the past 50 years, suggesting that populations have declined dramatically.
Catch numbers of large apex sharks (hammerheads, tigers and white sharks) declined by 74-92%, and the chance of catching no sharks at any given beach per year has increased by as much as seven-fold.
14 December 2018
The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, or ACC, is the strongest ocean current on our planet. It extends from the sea surface to the bottom of the ocean, and encircles Antarctica.
It is vital for Earth’s health because it keeps Antarctica cool and frozen. It is also changing as the world’s climate warms.
The ACC carries an estimated 165 million to 182 million cubic metres of water every second (a unit also called a “Sverdrup”) from west to east, more than 100 times the flow of all the rivers on Earth. It provides the main connection between the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans
16 Nov 2018
The lost world was uncovered during detailed seafloor mapping by CSIRO research vessel Investigator while on a 25-day research voyage led by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU). The mapping has revealed, for the first time, a diverse chain of volcanic seamounts located in deep water about 400 km east of Tasmania.
11 Oct 2018
Four tiger sharks have now been captured and killed following two separate attacks off the coast of North Queensland last week. Despite being relatively rare, shark attacks, or the threat of attacks, not only disrupt recreational beach activities but can affect associated tourist industries. Shark nets are a common solution to preventing shark attacks on Australian beaches, but they pose dangers to marine ecosystems.
28 Sep 2018 Read More
It’s stunning but true that we know more about the surface of the moon than about the Earth’s ocean floor. Much of what we do know has come from scientific ocean drilling – the systematic collection of core samples from the deep seabed.
This revolutionary process began 50 years ago, when the drilling vessel Glomar Challenger sailed into the Gulf of Mexico on August 11, 1968 on the first expedition of the federally funded Deep Sea Drilling Project.
26 September 2018
Researchers at the Australian Institute of Marine Science have made a significant breakthrough in the war against crown-of-thorns starfish, on the Great Barrier Reef.
AIMS’ senior research leader Dr Sven Uthicke and biochemist Jason Doyle, along with echinoderm expert Dr Miles Lamare from the University of Otago, in New Zealand, have developed a cost effective method for detecting DNA of the coral-eating pest.
18 Sep 2018
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