Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wildlife Bytes 5/10/11

Kangaroo Meat in Pet Food

Wildlife groups are now campaigning to have appropriate labelling on pet food that contains kangaroo meat. For readers who have time to lobby their appropriate government department, a suggested letter content is below. The more letters the departments and the politicians get the better.

I object to the fact that kangaroo meat is not labeled on pet foods. I object to buying pet food with kangaroo meat as I am morally and ethically opposed to the mass utilization of our wildlife, the harassment and cruelty involved. Up to one million young and baby kangaroo are simply bashed to death or die slowly from this ugly trade. I do not want to support it in any way. However, currently it is not necessary to label the products as having this meat. I know that Purina are using it, and Nature's Best. I would like to see proper labeling on ALL pet meat so wildlife supporters can avoid these products. Thank you, *

White Whale Calf Sited

An all-white humpback whale calf has been spotted frolicking in the waters around the Whitsundays. The Townsville Bulletin reported that Wayne Fewings captured the white calf on camera while diving near the entrance to Cid Harbour last week. Mr Fewings saw the whale, believed to be about 4m in length and similar to the famous Migaloo, along with two predominantly black adult humpback whales while with his son's family in a 4.5m runabout boat. The calf raised its head out of the water and then dived before coming within four or five metres of the runabout. The last official sighting of Migaloo was by a cargo ship crew on August 10 about 10km north of Pipon Island in Far North Queensland, according to the White Whale Research Centre. *Courier Mail

Wildife Burning

Roos, birds and lizards have been left without food or homes as the fires ripped through the desert and mountains in the past six weeks - some of the blazes deliberately lit. Even captive animals are struggling to survive.
Wildcare carer Cynthia Lynch has been the go-to woman for people around Alice Springs whose pets have flu-like symptoms. The retired nurse has about five joeys on antibiotics for smoke-induced pneumonia. Ms Lynch said that, in 35 years, she had never seen the smoke so bad. "It is so thick it's infiltrating our houses," she said. "I've seen orphan joeys get pneumonia when they're left out in the cold but these ones are about eight months old. I keep the weaker ones inside at night." Ms Lynch started looking after joeys while she was still nursing. Her granddaughter, Honey, 5, is fond of helping her nurse the little roos. The Alice Springs Counter Disaster Committee was continuing to monitor several fires yesterday. Some were contained around Luritja Rd but the main threat was in the Henbury area. *NT News


As the days grow warmer and spring gets into full swing, it's time for Australian paper wasps to go hunting. When you say 'wasp' many people might think of the aggressive introduced European wasp (Vespula germanica), which has spoilt many a Sunday picnic. Yet most of the wasps we see in Australian backyards are native wasps. Despite their jerky movements and ominous looking stingers, native paper wasps have little interest in people unless their nest is directly threatened. What they're really after are the fat juicy caterpillars that turn up in spring to graze happily on your garden. Caterpillars are ideal food for hungry baby wasps. Watch what a wasp does and you'll see it carefully inspecting each leaf for caterpillars, before grabbing its prize and flying off with it. *ABC
Read more .... http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/10/04/3327168.htm

New Marine Plants Found

WA scientists have discovered almost three-dozen new marine plant species in the South West of WA. Marine scientists from the WA Herbarium, responsible for the documentation of botanical species, and the Department of Environment and Conservation, made the series of discoveries in the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park. The survey unearthed a new green algae and the first records of red algae species' in Australia Environment minister Bill Marmion said the findings added to our knowledge of the inlet's biodiversity and complex food webs. "By understanding the life-cycles of these new species, scientists and marine managers can more readily recognise 'invaders' that could become major pests," Mr Marmion said. "The survey helps to provide insight into how certain marine species are distributed and significantly builds on the existing knowledge of marine plants in the inlets." A total of 49 species were recorded during the survey, a significant jump from the 14 previously recorded. WA News

Climate Change

A new plan to curb global warming risks becoming a battleground between rich and poor nations and could struggle to get off the ground as negotiators battle over the fate of the ailing Kyoto climate pact. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol covers only emissions from rich nations that produce less than a third of mankind's carbon pollution and its first phase is due to expire end-2012. Poorer nations want it extended, while many rich countries say a broader pact is needed to include all big polluters. Australia and Norway have proposed negotiations on a new agreement, but say it is unrealistic to expect that to be ready by 2013. They have set a target date two years later, in 2015. "This is the only way ahead. There is no other way than failure," said a senior climate negotiator from a developed country on the Australia-Norway proposal, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the talks. Rueters Read more ... http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/10/02/idINIndia-59659120111002

Tasmanian Animal Welfare Review Possible

Liberal leader Will Hodgman has backed a call to review Tasmania's animal welfare laws. Mr Hodgman said yesterday he was happy to be part of an animal welfare round table. The Tasmanian Greens have flagged a round table to formulate possible amendments to Tasmania's Animal Welfare Act. Speaking at the start of RSPCA Awareness Week yesterday, Mr Hodgman said the work the RSPCA did was critical. He said it was important to examine the level of State Government support for the organisation and to ensure animal welfare law was strong. "The last thing we can tolerate is the abuse of something as victimless and defenceless as an animal," the state Opposition Leader said. "It is inconceivable some of the things people will do to defenceless animals - it is a terrible indictment on our society." *Mercury


Cheetahs went extinct in India in 1950's - India wants to reintroduce them. An Indian government minister has stated that cheetahs may be imported to India in an attempt to repopulate the country with the only animal that has been declared extinct in India in the last 1,000 years. "We will have to get them from abroad to repopulate the species," said Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh when responding to a question. "We soon hope to do so," he added. The statement sparked a lively 70-minute debate in the Indian government with Ramesh detailing the steps being taken to conserve the tiger in 37 reserves across the country, 16 of which are in dire straights. "Our analysis shows that the situation in 16 reserves is truly alarming and they stand to lose all their tigers if the appropriate action is not undertaken to improve the situation," the minister said. "These 16 reserves are in the danger zone from where tigers have vanished or are on the brink of vanishing. Twelve reserves are in good condition, while the situation in the remaining nine is satisfactory but needs to improve," he added. "The main reasons for tiger decline include poaching, degradation of forest status outside tiger reserves and protected areas due to human pressure, livestock pressure and ecologically unsustainable land-use," Ramesh said. * Wildlife Extra


Cod stocks in the Irish Sea and the west coast of Scotland have collapsed because of overfishing and politicians' refusal to fix low enough catch quotas, according to a leading fisheries scientist who advises the European commission on fish quotas. Dr Paul Connolly's comments followed the European commission's decision on Wednesday to recommend for the first time that all fishing cod in the two sea areas is stopped. The commission has previously stopped short of pushing for such draconian measures in such a wide area of sea because of the political difficulty of placing a ban on fishing such a key species. Connolly, who is the director of Fisheries Science Services at the Marine Institute in Galway, advises the commission on "total allowable catches" and in 2013 is due to take over as president of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), the oldest marine scientific body. He said: "Continuous over-fishing has led to a collapse in cod in both these areas. The signs have been there for years and scientists have repeatedly warned quotas must be cut but fisheries ministers have time and time again ignored us. We do not know now whether the stocks will recover." *Guardian
Read more ... http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/sep/30/uk-cod-collapse-overfishing?intcmp=122

Murray River Rescue....or Not?

The national bid to save the River Murray appears to be in jeopardy with both green groups and irrigators attacking the revised plan. Ten environmental groups yesterday emerged from a briefing to condemn the plan, saying it would not restore enough water to save the system. That came as the South Australian Murray Irrigators group also attacked the revised plan, saying it had "barely changed from the original draft". The original draft guide to the plan, which proposed restoring up to 4000 gigalitres to the Murray-Darling, was released 12 months ago and them immediately withdrawn, after a backlash from irrigators fearful of losing water allocations. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has since redrafted the plan, and is proposing to restore about 2800GL. The authority is currently briefing affected groups across the basin. "The most recent comprehensive science review conducted by CSIRO showed anything less than 4000GL will fail the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth," Professor Diane Bell of the River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group said yesterday. The 10 groups said it would be impossible for them to support the current approach of the authority. The authority would not comment yesterday. *Adelaide Now

Lost Penguin

Day-trippers enjoying the heatwave on a Hampshire beach (UK) were stunned to spot a lost penguin frolicking in the waves. It's believed it was a jackass penguin which normally makes its home in South Africa, 6,000 miles away, reports The Sun. Visitors to Southsea beach, near Portsmouth, filmed the penguin diving in and out of the waves. Joanne Gordon, 35, of Aldershot, said: "I couldn't believe it when I saw it swimming around away just six foot from me." Earlier, the bird is said to have been seen waddling around the harbour to the surprise of onlookers. *Orange.com.uk

Flying Foxes

New Farm resident Carolyn Martin is being treated for exposure to the deadly bat disease lyssavirus after being swooped on by flying foxes. Ms Martin, 30, said she was hanging a towel on her clothesline just before 11pm last Tuesday night when she believes she "startled" a group of three flying foxes. "I wouldn't describe it as an attack," Ms Martin said. "Three flying foxes sort of flew on to my balcony and had a collision and I happened to be in the middle of it. "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time." Ms Martin now faces a gruelling four-week round of injections to protect her against the potentially deadly bat-borne virus. The 30-year-old received nine "excruciating" injections the day after the bats scratched her left foot and spat on her face. She was now facing a series of five further injections. Queensland Health acting chief officer Professor Michael Clearly said the lyssavirus was related to rabies and caused serious illness in humans that was usually fatal. He said there had been 89 notifications of bites or scratches involving bats in Queensland this year, including 16 in Brisbane. "Anyone who has been potentially exposed to Australian bat lyssavirus, and has never received pre-exposure vaccination, will require an injection of rabies immunoglobulin and a series of five rabies vaccine injections over one month," Prof Clearly said. Queensland's chief veterinary officer, Rick Symons, said it was extremely rare for healthy bats to approach or attack humans and that aggression could be a sign a flying fox was infected. "Lyssavirus is within the bat population and, unlike Hendra virus, it affects the bats," Dr Symons said. "It does make them sick and it can kill them. Sometimes they can get aggressive. "If you can touch or go near a bat, it's likely they have lyssavirus." *Coureur Mail

Ed Comment; The headline read.... "New Farm resident Carolyn Martin attacked by three bats now faces injections over four weeks to protect from lyssavirus.." Bat attack indeed, the media have a lot to answer for.

Fruit grower Brian Terrey describes the swarm of flying foxes that descends on his orchard each year as ''lethal vermin''. With the commercial fruit picking season set to begin, Mr Terrey wants to keep his right to shoot the protected animals that feed on his 12,000 nectarine and peach trees at Grose Vale, on the north-west fringe. He is angry the NSW government is phasing out a licensing scheme that allows fruit growers to kill limited numbers of grey-headed flying foxes, even though they are listed as vulnerable to extinction. Instead, it is rolling out a $5 million subsidised netting program to protect fruit trees in the Sydney basin and the central coast. Growers in other areas cannot apply for the netting grants. And as picking season looms, deep divisions are emerging in the growing industry.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/pests-drive-farmers-batty-20111001-1l2lo.html#ixzz1ZnC8CgHp


Koala numbers on Kangaroo Island have dropped to 13,000 from a peak of 27,000 in the past decade. Picture: Megan Slade. Source: Up to 40 per cent of Kangaroo Island's koalas have an AIDS-like virus that could devastate the population. It has the potential to impact on koalas in a similar way to the mouth cancer which is wiping out Tasmanian devils, experts say. The Environment Department revealed yesterday that koala numbers on the island had dropped from a peak of 27,000 to 13,000 over the past decade. Kangaroo Island was thought to be the only koala population without the retrovirus, but it has been detected in recent years, believed to be carried by insects, possibly mosquitos. The retrovirus is linked to koala cancers including lymphoma and leukemia. Last year, the first case of lymphoma in a Kangaroo Island koala was detected. A Senate inquiry examining the health of Australia's koala population has heard the retrovirus can lead to an AIDS-like disease destroying the immune system, and making the animals vulnerable to cancers and other diseases.

The virus is thought to be transmitted genetically from parent to offspring. Kangaroo Island's koala population has previously been robust and bred prolifically, prompting concerns they were demolishing the native habitat with their voracious appetites. The State Government introduced a sterilisation program to contain them in 1997. Almost 10,000 koalas were sterilised and 3800 moved off the island to the state's South-East. Now it is feared that the retrovirus will affect the island's koala population, as the disease spreads and new cancers emerge. Koala expert Dr Jon Hanger warned the inquiry that more money was needed for research to determine the impact of the virus. "The retrovirus has the potential to be one of the most significant factors in the severity and prevalence of serious disease in koalas and yet the funding allocated to better understanding it has been pitiful," he said. "It is our opinion that this virus may be as devastating to koalas as the Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease is to devils. In Environment Department spokesman said research was continuing to understand the prevalence of the disease on the island. "There is no evidence to suggest that the koala population on Kangaroo Island will become extinct from the retrovirus," he said. *News.com

Fraser Island

Which would you prefer - a fenced-off beach or an untouched, white sandy playground that was Fraser Island's Lake McKenzie before rangers began their foreshore rehabilitation? Conservationist John Sinclair says the beach has been ruined and turned into a garden. "I am absolutely rabid about this," Mr Sinclair said. "You have one of the best known beaches, with its stunning white sand used in promotional photos and the department tries to cover it up. "It's not just tree planting either. They've covered the sand with mesh and fenced it off. This is an abomination." Mr Sinclair, the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation spokesman, said he had written to the Environment Department about the issue and had not received a reply. "They can't admit they've made a mistake," he said. "I asked for a statement of reason under the Judicial Review Act and they won't even acknowledge my letter." The work was defended by Great Sandy regional manager Ross Belcher, who said it was done to protect the beach from high visitor numbers. "This work is no garden," he said. "The lake's been getting a hammering from growing tourist numbers. We get upwards of 300,000 a year to the island and I reckon most of them visit McKenzie. It's a first-rate job."

Mr Sinclair said the development, which included fences, retaining walls and plantings of local species, had to go. Mr Belcher said considerable damage had been done in past years and the revegetation would not be removed. "I appreciate John's point of view but this is to protect foreshore vegetation and make sure damage is not occurring," he said. "We want also to improve the visual amenity. It provides swimming areas that are screened from other parts of the beach." Mr Sinclair said there was no excuse for Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service staff to interfere with nature in the middle of the state's most prominent national park. In 1993, Mr Sinclair, a former Australian of the Year, removed 113 casuarina trees planted by the Beach Protection Authority to stabilise a sand blow - a hill of naturally moving sand. Yesterday, he said he would consider dismantling the McKenzie structure. "I'd have to think about it though, it's such a substantial fence I'd probably get a hernia." *Courier Mail

DERM Firebugs Burn Fraser Island

Guests at Fraser Island's Kingfisher Bay Resort have been moved to alternative rooms, as a large bushfire continues to burn just 800m away. The fire broke out about 6.40pm last night, with some ash and smoke from the fire affecting the resort. An evacuation plan has been put in place for guests and staff at the Kingfisher Bay Resort on Kingfisher Bay Drive, but has not yet been activated, a Department of Community Safety spokeswoman said. It is understood 50 of the 500 people staying at the resort have been relocated to different rooms as a precaution. A spokeswoman for the Kingfisher Bay Resort said the resort was not experiencing any difficulties due to the fire. She said the 50 people relocated had been staying in both the staff and backpackers accommodation and had been relocated to the main part of the resort. She said some tours had been redirected but that the resort was otherwise operating as normal. She confirmed one resort guest was treated for smoke inhalation by paramedics. A resort staff member said they did not believe the resort was under threat.

Kingfisher Bay Resort group general manager David Hay said the fire was not visible from the resort because it was over a ridge. "We had a fire burning to the south of us for about a week that was a national parks burn-off and some very windy south-westerly winds in the last few days," he said. "That changed the fire into a much bigger fire, it jumped a few breaks and a few roads and got the point where it was within a kilometre of the resort. "As a precaution, we moved some people from one part of the resort, which is more tree-covered and closer to the boundary, down to the main complex just for safety but we've had no incursions from the fire into the resort grounds. " The Department of Community Safety said water-bombing of the fire, burning near Kingfisher Bay Drive and Corn Wells Break Road, had ceased. Eighteen firefighters on the ground were this afternoon conducting backburning in the hopes of extinguishing the fire in the next few hours. A dozer is being used to strengthen containment lines around the Kingfisher Bay Resort. *Courier Mail


The death of a road-user will be the only way marsupial problems around Tower Hill will be fixed, Moyne mayor Jim Doukas said. However, the government department responsible for the wildlife has ruled out relocating or culling kangaroos. The warning followed another accident between a car and kangaroos this week. DSE regional director Laurie Dwyer Dwyer said the DSE had received a letter from Killarney farmer Brian Mugavin on Thursday and was still in the process of working through issues raised. Mr Mugavin raised the issue with the Moyne Shire Council and the government this week after his son's ute was damaged by kangaroos. Mr Mugavin also claims someone will be killed before something is done about the Tower Hill Game Reserve's roos and wallabies. His 18-year-old son Leigh was involved in a collision on Wednesday night with a kangaroo that damaged the driver's side panels . Brian's wife Sally collided with a kangaroo a couple of months ago , result ing in a $7000 damage bill. That incurred a $500 insurance excess and the latest prang is likely to attract an insurance excess of more than $1200.

Leigh hit two kangaroos while trying to swerve to miss a mob along Lakeview Road. He said he saw one kangaroo, swerved and slowed down to about 50km/h when two more jumped into the side of his ute. "I just heard two bangs ," he said. " Someone could swerve into Tower Hill or hit another car head-on." Brian said he was angry and he had heard about a number of recent accidents. He has contacted the Warrnambool Parks Victoria office, spoken to a regional manager, the VicRoads office, Moyne mayor Jim Doukas, a number of local residents, member for South West Coast Denis Napthine, Wildlife Victoria, the Moyne Shire Council ranger and police . "Everyone is sorry but no one can do anything," he said. "If I had a cow out on the road which caused this sort of damage I would be in awful trouble," he said. Mr Dwyer said most wildlife incidents involving cars on roads were the responsibility of VicRoads or councils. "On rare occasions there is a processes we can go through of relocation or culling but we do not think that is an option here at the moment," he said.

Brian said he was contacted by a Parks Victoria officer on Thursday night but compensation was ruled out. Cr Doukas said the issue refused to go away and Parks Victoria and DSE either had to relocate kangaroos, cull them or put in place effective fencing. "They thought they had fixed this issue by closing a gate," Cr Doukas said. "It had quietened down but now it's back bigger than ever. "There are sometimes hundreds of kangaroos in paddocks around Tower Hill . "It's been going for 12 months and there's been dozens and dozens of accidents. "It seems that someone is going to have to be seriously injured or killed before something is done ." *Warnambool Standard

Gladsone Harbor Dredging

Controversial dredging operations in Gladstone Harbour resumed yesterday after being suspended last week to allow murky water conditions to improve. But Greens environment spokeswoman Larissa Waters said the suspension should stand until tests revealed what was behind diseases and deaths of marine species in the harbour area. The Gladstone Ports Corporation voluntarily stopped dredging in part of the harbour last Thursday because extremely low tides and high winds had increased turbidity levels. A newly-created bund wall, aimed at containing dredge spoil, also was leaking although authorities expected it to seal. "The leaking, new bund wall is worsening high turbidity in Gladstone Harbour, and we know that red spot in fish is linked to poor water quality and high levels of sediment," Ms Waters said. "Why should dredging be allowed to continue when the entire fishing industry of Gladstone is left in limbo? "Dredging operations simply must be stopped until authorities get to the bottom of this. "I urge Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke and Queensland Environment Minister Vicky Darling to suspend all Gladstone dredging operations immediately."

Fisheries Minister Craig Wallace said last week dredging would not stop because Health Department and independent tests showed no link between port work and diseased fish. Two weeks ago, the Government banned fishing in an area of about 500sq km - centred on Gladstone's harbour - while scientists try to resolve issues that have shut down part of the region's $40 million commercial fishing industry. Tests have found fish are infected with red spot disease, and a parasite that causes milky eye in barramundi. Red spot also broke out in Moreton Bay after the Brisbane floods in January. Gladstone has also recorded more than 100 turtle and dugong deaths this year - raising concerns of links between dredging and stressed animals. The Queensland Seafood Industry Association also has called for a halt to dredging. "If leaking through the bund wall in the reclamation area at Fisherman's Landing is causing unacceptable levels of turbidity, then what is the dumping of the same dredge spoil material off the front of Facing Island doing?" QSIA president Michael Gardner said. "Surely, that will be causing serious turbidity problems also." The QSIA has written to Ms Darling asking that no further dredge spoil be dumped at the Fisherman's Landing site until the bund wall was sealed. *Courier Mail

Queensland Fisheries Minister Craig Wallace has denied claims he was aware of a health scare at Gladstone months before he took action. A fishing ban was imposed at Gladstone harbour on September 16 after sick fish were found with sores and cloudy eyes. The government has appointed a scientific panel to investigate the cause, with initial tests identifying two conditions, red-spot disease and a parasite. Further tests are under way. Fishing groups say it's a human health risk, with several commercial fishermen developing rashes and nausea after handling the sick fish. Opposition fisheries spokesman Mark Robinson accuses Mr Wallace of not responding to the health scare immediately. "Gladstone fishermen claim the government received reports of sick fish at least three months ago, so the minister has some explaining to do," Dr Robinson said.
Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/queensland-government-sat-on-sick-fish-report-opposition-20111004-1l6f2.html#ixzz1ZnDHTnpH

Queensland fishermen have been taken to hospital with recurring weeping sores resembling spider bites after handling sick fish and working in water at Gladstone's harbour. A fishing ban was imposed at Gladstone harbour on September 16 after sick fish were found with sores and cloudy eyes. Up to 20 fishermen have issued statements to Queensland Health detailing painful boils that cover their legs and arms, medical doctor and Queensland Seafood Industry Association president Michael Gardner said yesterday. The cardio surgeon says he had examined and taken photos of several fishermen with the sores. "I'm seeing a cluster of people working in the harbour who have been exposed to the water or have handled the fish, breaking out in multiple lesions on their limbs," Dr Gardner said. "I'm a medical practitioner and I can say this is more than a coincidence and it's not an isolated event." Dr Gardner said at least four people had to be admitted to hospital. "They are very painful sores," he said. "Some of (the fishermen) couldn't work for several weeks. Some of them developed septicemia and had to be hospitalised."

Gladstone Fish Market owner Ted Whittingham said he knows that one fisherman was taken to hospital for five days and had to be put on an intravenous drip and pumped with antibiotics. "There have been numerous fishermen contracting this and it seems to be from handling fish and using the harbour water," Mr Whittingham said. "A lot of the reef fishermen who use the water to wash their boats, and where they've got a cut or scratch, burst out in these lesions. "They're like big spider bites and they come up within 24 hours." Queensland Health says its officers had interviewed several fishermen but found no health cluster to be concerned about. "(The fishermen) have described a range of conditions, including infected fish spike injuries and wounds and other skin problems," a statement from the department yesterday said. "All the conditions described have multiple causes."

Dr Gardner is calling for the department to investigate it further. "There is a relationship. The symptoms are the same, but just what it is I don't know," he said. "The story is the same. The sores appeared after people handled fish or came into contact with the water." Dr Gardner said it's unusual for a small fishing community to have at least 20 people infected with the same illness. A state government report into the water quality at Gladstone Port, however, did not find any problems, the Department of Environment and Resource Management's director of water quality Dr Julia Playford told the Nine Network. "It (the report) takes into account the time before the fish became diseased and after the fish became diseased and it shows no significant change," she said. * AAP

Ed Comment; Gladstone Harbor has long been a cesspit, 20 years ago we were shown fish caught in the Harbor with huge sores on their bodies. The government did nothing about it then....except allow the building of more chemical factories to service the coal mining Industry. It's not likely to do anything about the pollution now. Gladsone Harbor also host large numbers of foreign shellfish and exotic sea creatures bought in on the hulls and ballast water of the huge coal ships. Nowdays they offload the ballst water offshore....but its too late...the exotics are there already. I was in Gladstone last week, and its very busy, dirty place, with mining and CSG vehicles everywhere. It is also reputed to have the highest incidents of asthma and similar breathing illnesses of any town in Australia.*

Whaling...Japan gives $27.7 to support whalers!

Radical anti-whaling operation Sea Shepherd is promising dramatic attacks against Japanese whalers in coming months, with volunteers warning they are prepared to die for the cause. The group has announced "Operation Divine Wind" against the Japanese whalers, who plan to begin their annual hunt in the Southern Ocean in December. The name translates to the Japanese word kamikaze, the name given to World War II pilots sent on suicide missions. In launching the mission at the weekend, Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson promised on the group's Facebook page a "very dramatic and adventurous three months beginning in December". "I am confident that we will be able to stop them once again," he wrote in a statement "liked" by more than 2000 Sea Shepherd Facebook fans. The Sea Shepherd has become increasingly successful in recent years at disrupting the Japanese fleet, last year taking it further when New Zealand activist Peter Bethune illegally boarded a whaling ship and was briefly jailed.

Angered by the campaign, which reduced the catch, the Japanese government has injected $27.7 million into the program to improve the safety for its crew. Undeterred, Sea Shepherd announced it would send 100 volunteers to the Southern Ocean and was prepared to lose lives if necessary. "They will have to kill us to prevent us from intervening once again," Mr Watson said. "Are the Japanese people ready to take human lives in defence of this horrifically cruel and illegal slaughter of endangered and protected species of whales? "If so, my answer to the Japanese government is hoka hey - it's a good day to die." He also accused Japan of continuing its whale program solely to save face against activist opposition. "It now seems they are simply obsessed with killing whales not for need, and not for profit, but because they believe they have the right to do what they wish and kill whatever they wish in an established international whale sanctuary, just for the sake of defending their misplaced honour." He claimed the program was a "smack in the face" to foreign nations that donated funds in the wake of Japan's killer tsunami. Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research has yet to comment on the claims. *AAP

Ed Comment; Meanwhile the federal government has condemned a decision by Japan to continue hunting whales in the Southern Ocean, saying Australia remains opposed to the so-called scientific whaling program. At the same time, the government doesnt seem to have done much to stop it.

New Shark Sanctuary

The Marshall Islands government has created the world's largest shark sanctuary, covering nearly two million sq km (750,000 sq miles) of ocean. The Pacific republic will ban trade in shark products and commercial shark fishing throughout its waters. Tourism, including diving, is a staple of the Marshall Islands archipelago, which is home to just 68,000 people. Sharks and their near relatives such as rays are seriously threatened by issues such as habitat loss and fishing. About a third of ocean-going sharks are on the internationally-recognised Red List of Threatened Species. "In passing this [shark protection] bill, there is no greater statement we can make about the importance of sharks to our culture, environment and economy," said Senator Tony deBrum, who co-sponsored the bill through the Marshallese parliament. "Ours may be a small island nation, but our waters are now the biggest place sharks are protected."

To put the sanctuary in context, it covers roughly the same area as Indonesia, Mexico or Saudi Arabia, and is about eight times bigger than the UK. The move will extend the area of ocean in which sharks are protected from about 2.7 million sq km to 4.6 million sq km (1.0 to 1.8 million sq miles). The Marshall Islands government has created the world's largest shark sanctuary, covering nearly two million sq km (750,000 sq miles) of ocean. The Pacific republic will ban trade in shark products and commercial shark fishing throughout its waters. Tourism, including diving, is a staple of the Marshall Islands archipelago, which is home to just 68,000 people. Sharks and their near relatives such as rays are seriously threatened by issues such as habitat loss and fishing. *BBC