Shark nets in New South Wales
Shark nets in New South Wales (Sam Hood, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Unintended Deaths Soar in NSW Shark Net Program

According to the findings, more than half of the 208 non-target species ensnared in the nets over the past eight months met a grim fate, with 134 animals, including critically endangered grey nurse sharks and leatherback turtles, among the casualties. The figures, made public as the nets were removed for the season, highlight the significant toll the program exacts on marine biodiversity.

Hawaiian Triggerfish on Ningaloo Reef
Hawaiian Triggerfish on Ningaloo Reef

Coral Catastrophe on Ningaloo Reef

An ecological disaster

Furthermore, the abundance of healthy coral colonies experienced a sharp decline from 3,452 individuals in 2018 to just 153 in 2022. The abundance of coral genera also took a significant hit, falling by 84.61% from 26 genera in 2018 to just four in 2022. Dominant genera such as Acropora, Montipora and Echinopora were eradicated from the study sites.

The SS Nemesis disappeared during an intense storm in July 1904 as it was transporting coal from Newcastle to Melbourne, Australia.
The SS Nemesis disappeared during an intense storm in July 1904 as it was transporting coal from Newcastle to Melbourne, Australia.

SS Nemesis wreck uncovered: Solving a 120-year maritime mystery

The discovery, which resolved over a century of mystery surrounding the ship's location, occurred during a standard environmental survey.

The SS Nemesis, constructed in 1873, was a cargo steamer that encountered its premature demise during a ferocious storm in 1901. Since that time, the wreck's position had remained an enigmatic puzzle, baffling historians and the crew's descendants alike. Its unveiling not only concludes a historical narrative but also heralds a new chapter in Australia's extensive maritime legacy.

If a shark or other animal is captured, the pressure on the line triggers the communications unit, which then sends an alert via phone call, email and text message to a boat crew who will respond to the animal within 30 minutes. If it is a target shark, namely a white, bull or tiger shark, it will be tagged and then released one kilometre offshore. All other marine animals caught are released immediately.

Catch-and-release deters sharks from beaches

Researchers conducted trials using SMART drumlines in New South Wales, Australia, to catch and release sharks, particularly White Sharks. The study aimed to quantify the short-term post-release movements and the longer-term fate of these sharks.

Sharks were caught using SMART drumlines deployed about 500 meters from shore. Once captured, they were quickly secured to a research vessel, minimising potential injuries. The sharks were tagged with satellite-linked radio transmitting tags and acoustic transmitters to monitor their movements post-release.

Pod of Burrunan dolphins at the ocean surface
Burrunan dolphins have been found to have high levels of toxicity in their system.

Critically endangered dolphins face unprecedented pollutant threat

In a joint study, scientists found alarming concentrations of PFAS chemicals in Victoria’s critically endangered Burrunan dolphins. 

These chemicals, widely used in food packaging, firefighting foam and non-stick cookware, are sometimes called “forever chemicals” as they almost never break down in the environment. 

Toyota Land Cruiser
1978 Toyota Land Cruiser

1978 Toyota Land Cruiser sets new underwater record

Comprising a skilled team of engineers, professional divers, and automobile enthusiasts, this collective recently orchestrated an extraordinary endeavor. They navigated a vintage Land Cruiser 4.3 miles beneath the waters of Darwin, an Australian city, setting a new bar for both the longest and deepest underwater journey.

This historic achievement, as reported by ABC News Australia, saw the vehicle reaching an astounding depth of 98 feet beneath the harbor's surface. This feat demanded more than a mere snorkel to achieve.

Great Barrier Reef at the Whitsunday Islands, Australia.
Great Barrier Reef at the Whitsunday Islands, Australia.

Great Barrier Reef narrowly escapes UNESCO World Heritage downgrade

Australia's Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981, narrowly avoided a downgrade to the "in danger" status during a recent meeting of the World Heritage Committee. The decision was made despite the repeated warnings by experts about the escalating impact of climate change on the world's largest coral reef system.

Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef.
Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef has sort of chlamydia

The discovery of chlamydia-like bacteria in corals of the Great Barrier Reef could help scientists understand the coral microbiome and its impact on coral reef health.

Corals are associated with a variety of bacteria, which occur in the surface mucus layer, gastrovascular cavity, skeleton and tissues where they play a critical role in protecting corals against pathogens, cycling nutrients, and producing vitamins and essential amino acids. 

Some tissue-associated bacteria form clusters, termed cell-associated microbial aggregates (CAMAs), which are poorly studied.