Monday, June 11, 2012

Wildlife Bytes 11/6/12

Marine Parks

The ABC has obtained an Environment Department proposal for a network of marine parks that would make up the biggest ocean conservation sanctuary in the world. Environment Minister Tony Burke's upcoming announcement of a national network of Commonwealth marine parks has been described by environmentalists as a chance for the government to leave a legacy as significant as the protection of the Great Barrier Reef or Kakadu. The documents show a huge protected area in the Coral Sea off Queensland, stretching all the way along the state's coastline and a long way out to sea. There are protected pockets stretching further south past New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, and significant protected areas proposed around Western Australia and up to the Northern Territory. Work on the network of marine parks has been underway for years, and it is expected a final decision on the protection zone could be just a week or two away. Mr Burke says if the drafts are implemented, it would be the most significant step for conservation Australia has seen in terms of the number of hectares being placed into conservation. *ABC Read more  ..


Man-eating monsters are on the move despite a cold snap, with four fiesty crocodiles hauled from Darwin Harbour at dawn. The NT News snapped photoes as croc catchers winched in two big salties. The first was 3m long caught in a West Arm trap and the second was 2.7m captured at Bleesers Creek. One had a stingray barb in the middle of its head. Rangers in another boat hooked a 2.7m saltie in the trap at South Port while Jones Creek yielded a chunky 2.1m reptile. *NT News


A Maine (US) woman is being allowed to keep her pet wallaby for now, even though wildlife officials say she is violating state law by keeping a wild animal as a pet. Michelle Charette of Island Falls took the male marsupial named Kingston home on Wednesday after a hearing at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The state is concerned that the animal indigenous to Australia can catch and transmit rabies because it has not been vaccinated. The Bangor Daily News reports that Charette and her supporters told the three-member appeals panel they will get the wallaby vaccinated and are willing to comply with any conditions the state sets. Charette says the wallaby, a gift after her divorce, comforts her. The panel is expected to rule within days. *

Mammilian Pox Virus Fact Sheet available here...


An estimated 151 wild animals, worth $5,294,000, were killed by poachers between January and April this year, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has revealed. The authority’s Public Relations Manager, Caroline Washaya Moyo, told The Zimbabwean that one white and 10 black rhinos worth$360 000 were killed in both national and private estates during this period. Washaya Moyo said during the same period, a total of 71 elephants and seven buffaloes worth $70,000 were killed in the national parks.Other animals killed for the pot include one eland, five zebras, seven crocodiles, 24 impalas, six Nyalas, four warthogs and two waterbuck. Washaya Moyo said despite limited resources, her department had come up with a number of strategies to ensure the protection of the country’s wildlife.These include Intensive Protection Zones for the protection of rhinos, cross-border collaboration, and crime workshops. The Authority is carrying out aerial surveys as well as ground water hole censuses with assistance from MIKE-CITES, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Save Australia and AWF. * The Zimbabwean

AZWH Patient of the Week... Nicky the Feathertail Glider

Found inside a house at Moorina, near Morayfield, with mum nowhere in sight, and transported to The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for veterinary assessment and specialised care. Dr Amber assessed little Nicky and found the tiny glider was dehydrated, though thankfully free from any injuries. Nicky was otherwise very bright and responsive, and tipped the scales at a miniscule 2 grams! Dr Amber administered Nicky some water and glucose through a tiny syringe in his mouth. He was then kept warm and under close observation in the ICU Nursery. Nicky has since been transferred to a local wildlife carer, who will be able to dedicate him their time until he is old enough to be released back into the wild. AZWH Statistic: There were 20 orphaned animals admitted in May. Please keep pet cats indoors at night to stop their natural hunting instincts affecting our wildlife. *AZWH

Wildlife Poaching

Poaching, especially in parts of the developing world, is as serious and prevalent an issue today as it was only twenty years ago. Despite steps to curb the poaching of exotic and endangered species, such as the 1990 CITES-led international ban on ivory, many countries are still faced with a growing prevalence of the issue within their national parks and reserves. This was recently exemplified by the law passed this month in Western India that allows forest guards to shoot and kill suspected poachers on site and not face any criminal charges or human rights violations. Poaching is not strictly defined as the illegal culling of endangered or protected species. Poaching also includes the shooting, trapping, or taking of game or fish from private property or from a place where such practices are specifically reserved or forbidden. Taken in this context, as hunting out of season or without a permit is also considered poaching, many hunters are often unaware of the legal designation of their activity. Read more  ..

Gt Barrier Reef

Environment group, the World Wildlife Fund, says the UNESCO report on the Great Barrier Reef recognises the scale of the issues faced by the reef. The report, released at the weekend, criticises the way the reef is managed. It has given eight months for controls on coastal development and mining to be improved, or the reef could be listed as World Heritage in danger. It's being discussed by the Queensland Cabinet today. WWF marine spokesperson Richard Leck says the Queensland and Federal Governments are now on notice to meet the report's recommendations. "The Queensland Government really has a choice here - whether or not it chooses to restrict those developments and keep the World Heritage Site off the endangered list or whether it chooses to go down that dangerous path." The Queensland Government says it welcomes the UNESCO report. Environment and Heritage Protection Minister Andrew Powell says the government is already implementing many of the recomendations. "They implicitly acknowledge that the Great Barrier Reef is a part of the economy of Queensland and Australia," he said. "They don't argue for a ban on development in, or affecting on, the World Heritage Area. "They have asked us to look at it a little bit more strategically and I think anyone would acknowledge that the way that the former government was going about it, that's a fair comment to make."
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Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has announced funding of about $1.5 million to control an outbreak of the crown-of-thorns starfish. Mr Burke says the new money will be used by the Queensland tourism industry to inject chemicals and kill the sea stars before the numbers get out of hand.  He says there are warnings that the Great Barrier Reef is under significant threat from the starfish. "All the projections that we have say that we are looking down the barrel at one of the most significant outbreaks that we have seen," Mr Burke said. The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO) has welcomed the commitment to eradicating the crown-of-thorns. AMPTO Executive Officer Col McKenzie says the program is critical to not only saving the Great Barrier Reef but Queensland's tourism industry. "There is no doubt the crown-of-thorns is the single biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef - not climate change, not global warming, not mining and all those other pressures," Mr McKenzie said. "The crown-of-thorns has done far more damage." *

Ed Comment; They will never eradicte it, and the Crown of Thorns will be joined by many more unwelcome exotic marine hitchhikers we could well do without, when all these foreign ships are coming in to load coal and gas. *

NT Parks Broke

Parks and Wildlife in the Northern Territory is looking at ways to boost its revenue stream to stave off a financial crisis. Executive director Graham Phelps says the agency's budget is not meeting the cost of maintaining parks across the Territory. He says it is looking at increasing fees for popular walking trails and scrapping the honour system now in use at camp sites, forcing people to pay online. Mr Phelps says the department needs to be innovative about looking after its infrastructure. "An online booking system where you could pay before you went and then clearly identify that you have paid might make it easier," he said. "We can get some pretty significant increases in our camping revenue just by making sure that we are making it easier for people to pay and making sure that we actually do have a higher percentage of people paying. "We're also looking at partnerships. "Sometimes you don't have to bring money in, you can bring partners in who will work with you and provide some of the services that you want because they are really interested in doing it." Mr Phelps says, despite budget increases in recent years, the cost of maintaining infrastructure is mounting. *ABC

Become a Wildlife Warrior

By making a one-off donation or joining our monthly giving program you can become part of a global wildlife force that is working hard to preserve our natural environment. Monthly Giving Program; Sign up to become a regular giver for wildlife conservation! Donations start from as little as $2.50 a week and can go to helping our native wildlife at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Nearly 100 wildlife emergency calls are received every day at the Hospital, Up to 30 different species are admitted to the hospital every day, Currently around 80 koalas undergoing treatment, Approximately 70% of patients are victims of car accidents or domestic pet attacks, The cost to treat one animal ranges from $100 to thousands of dollars To sign up or find out more please visit *


A baby humpback whale beached on Fraser Island has died early this morning.  Rangers were praying the high tide would save the baby humpback but the rescue attempt failed. Queensland Parks and Wildlife's Peter Wright said the 5-tonne calf, estimated to be only months old, was found washed ashore on the eastern beach, 200m from Eli Creek, at 6am Wednesday. Mr Wright said he believed the calf was completing its first migration from Antarctic waters when it became stranded. The mother was nowhere to be seen. He said eight to 10 officers spent Wednesday digging a channel out to the ocean in the hope the tidal surge would wash the 8m-long whale out to sea. ``They've been keeping its skin wet and protecting it from the public,'' Mr Wright said. Two rangers spent the night camped out on the beach to execute the rescue. Rescuers had built a trench for the distressed whale ahead of last night's high tide but the whale was unable to get back into the water and its condition deteriorated before it died this morning. *Courier Mail


Koala tracking website here  ..

Planet in Crisis

The earth's environmental systems "are being pushed towards their biophysical limits", the United Nations Environment Program says. In a 525-page report on the health of the planet, the agency paints a grim picture. It says: "Several critical global, regional and local thresholds are close or have been exceeded. "Abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet are likely to occur." The report, which was released overnight, says changes include rising oceans, increased frequency and severity of floods and droughts, and the collapse of fisheries. The report, which compiles three years of work by 300 scientists, says about 20 per cent of vertebrate species are under threat of extinction, coral reefs have declined by 38 per cent since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions could double over the next 50 years, and 90 per cent of water and fish samples are contaminated by pesticides.
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Ed Comment; Most of us know this already, but how do we get it through to our political Leaders?

Vulnerable Species

The insatiable Western appetite for coffee, chocolate, timber and other goods threatens a third of the world's most vulnerable animal species, according to Sydney researchers who mapped the world economy. The findings could lead to improved labelling on thousands of supermarket products, making sustainability ratings the norm rather than the exception and enable stricter controls on the trade of products that damage animal habitats. The five-year study by University of Sydney academics tracked 5 billion supply chains involving 15,000 commodities produced in 187 countries, using years of data collection and thousands of hours on a supercomputer. The data, linked to a global inventory of 25,000 endangered and vulnerable animal species, found that, excluding invasive species, 30 per cent of recorded threats were due to international trade.
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Despite inhabiting the same waters, two populations of Great White sharks living in the coastal waters of Australia are genetically distinct, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. The two groups of Great Whites, or white sharks, are separated by the Bass Strait, a stretch of water between the Australian mainland and Tasmania to the south. The research team, led by Dean Blower from the University of Queensland, used genetic tests from 97 shark tissue samples dating back to 1989 confirmed this geographical divide. “The genetic makeup of white sharks west of Bass Strait was different from those on the eastern seaboard of Australia – despite the lack of any physical barrier between these regions,” said Professor John Pandolfi, a Chief Investigator at the University of Queensland. “Our tagging and tracking showed that white sharks travel thousands of kilometers,” said Barry Bruce, a lead study researcher from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). * redOrbit (


A male saltwater crocodile, believed to have eaten a pet dog at Donkey Camp was among four huge salties caught by Parks and Wildlife Rangers in the Katherine region in the past week.
The 3.22 male croc was pulled from a trap which had been placed 4km upstream from the popular fishing spot after a Katherine man lost his dog to a crocodile in the area two weeks ago. Rod Usher, 43, said when he found the rear half of his brother’s Kelpie cross Toni on the family property near Donkey Camp he knew “it wasn’t a barra that got the dog”. Katherine croc catcher and senior wildlife ranger John Burke said a trap was placed into the river two weeks ago and the large crocodile was caught in it on Friday afternoon. Two smaller salties, measuring 2.77m and 2.89m, were caught in traps at Flora River within Flora River Nature Park, 122km south-west of Katherine. *NT News


A new species of frog whose call sounds like a cross between a bleating lamb and a microwave oven has been found on Australia's largest island national park. Two new species of frogs that have been discovered by James Cook University biologist Dr Conrad Hoskin living in the rainforests of North Queensland. Dr Hoskin has been closely analysing the physical and genetic differences among the frog family known as the microhylids. Dr Hoskin's findings show there are major genetic differences between populations in the northern and southern halves of this range. The populations are so different, they were found to represent three separate species, including two new species: one in the north of the Wet Tropics, the ornate frog; one in the south - the southern ornate nursery frog (Cophixalus australis); and one living on Hinchinbrook Island, the Hinchinbrook Island nursery frog (Cophixalus hinchinbrookensis). Dr Hoskin said the discovery showed that despite a long history of scientific exploration, the Wet Tropics still yielded exciting species discoveries. *Townsville Bulletin


He loves nothing better than getting photos from friends around the world. They send him dead kangaroos, lifeless possums and flattened lizards. The more, the merrier, he says.   Mr Beresford, who admits his wife left him because she thought he was ‘a bit odd’, said: ‘I see things that strike my fancy when I’m driving around and I look for inspiration. ‘When I saw some road kill I thought ‘‘why not?’’ I’m doing it to raise awareness about road kill but also for a bit of fun. I have a contact in Africa who helps me get pictures and I went on ABC Radio in Australia appealing for animals and I got thousands of Kangaroo pictures sent over. His 14-year-old son, Ben, supports his hobby, he claims. ‘His classmates think it’s great,’ said the 60-year-old from Redditch, Worcestershire. ‘It’s the most inappropriate gift of all time, a road kill dinner. ‘I’m hoping to sell them but we will see how it goes.’ John Lewis will surely be beating a path to his door. He still has one animal missing from his collection. A grizzly bear. *

Flashlight in one hand, walkie-talkie in the other, Fiona Corke is out on a dark night in a national park in the Australian capital Canberra looking for marksmen. "You see them?" she whispers anxiously into her transmitter. "I can hear them," replies a fellow member of the Australian Society for Kangaroos from inside the Crace Nature Reserve, ignoring signs that tell people to keep out. The pair are part of a group opposed to the "massacre" of eastern grey kangaroos near Canberra in an authorised cull that began in late May with marksmen planning to shoot dead more than 2,000 of the animals. The government says they threaten the biodiversity of nature reserves and their numbers need to be kept in check, with shooters deployed to nine parks, working to a secret schedule to deter demonstrations. Carolyn Drew, an activist with Animal Liberation, says small groups of people go out nightly attempting to halt the killings. "If we manage to find shootings going on a park, we run in with torches and make a noise," she says.

"When they know activists are in the park, they ask the shooters to stop straight away. "They'll come back the next night but they'll surround the park with police so that the activists find it very difficult to get in." Corke insists there is no credible evidence to prove that kangaroos cause any ecological damage. "They have been part of this landscape for thousands of years, and they a have a right to be here," she says. But Parks and Conservation Service director Daniel Iglesias says controlling the eastern greys, one of the largest kangaroo species, is necessary. They have no predators, damage the environment and threaten the survival of several rare species such as the Striped Legless Lizard and the Grassland Earless Dragon, he says. "When Europeans came, predators like dingos and Tasmanian tigers disappeared (from the area)," explains Iglesias. "Then we started replacing woodland with grassland. Over time, with no predators and lots of good habitat, kangaroo numbers have built and built and built."

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Iglesias of course, is talking nonsense, and it just goes to show how shonky the whole kill is. A few thousand dingoes spread across Australia prior to white invasion had little impact on kangaroos, and the Tassie Tiger disappeared from the mainland many thousands of years ago. In 1860 there was enough natural grasslands to support 200 million kangaroos or more. Now, according to government, theres only 25 millioin, probably a lot less. And they currently have plenty of predators, humans and motor vehicles.

Tess Wildlife Sanctuary

After the heart-breaking loss of several native animals during the floods last year, the Fraser Coast TESS Wildlife Sanctuary is expanding its Mungar Rd site to include higher ground. The floods also destroyed fencing and other infrastructure, which will be replaced thanks to $227,000 in funding from the Australian government's Natural Disaster Flexible Funding Program. The boundary fence will be extended to increase the area available for enclosures and wildlife exhibits by an extra 5000sq m. Sanctuary curator Ray Revill said some of the money would be used to build new bird enclosures, including a walk-through aviary. "This aviary will give the public the opportunity to walk through an open, relaxed space with living and constructed habitat and water features, as they interact with some of the most beautiful birds Australia has to offer," Mr Revill said. "The sanctuary pathways will lead our visitors on an adventure with native wildlife."

The expansion will also provide on-the-job experience for local jobseekers and trainees, who will help build the fence and aviaries, work on improved wheelchair access areas and public entry, landscaping, picnic spaces and other improvements. Mr Stone said Fraser Coast suppliers and businesses would be used wherever possible, and would appreciate any in-kind support or donations. The sanctuary will be closed for final work to be completed from June 18 to July 2. To help, contact project manager Jenni Chew on 0428873341. *Fraser Chronicle

Endemic Parasite

A parasite believed to be costing the cattle industry $30 million a year is now endemic in Australia and could be infecting native wildlife. New research from the University of Sydney has found that Neospora caninum, which causes spontaneous abortions in infected cattle, has spread from the eastern coastal region to the rest of the country, placing more of Australia's cattle market at risk than previously realised. The parasite is carried by domestic dogs, which infect pastures. The new findings show that wild dogs and semi-domesticated dogs in remote Aboriginal communities also carry the antibodies for the parasite. This has led researchers to conclude that it is now a nationwide problem. The lead author of the study conducted by the university's faculty of veterinary science, Jan Slapeta, said the research raised crucial questions about whether other domestic and native animals could be infected by the now ubiquitous parasite.

Laboratory experiments had already established that N. caninum was fatal to the fat-tailed dunnart, a tiny marsupial from the same family as quolls and Tasmanian devils, Dr Slapeta said. "This is a very clever parasite and it's creeping inland, opening up a totally new gate to the problem," he said. "It's outsmarting us, the way it hides for up two years then strikes." The parasite causes cattle to abort their first two or three calves. In dogs, it damages the nervous system. Anthony Bennett, a vet in Berry who treats cattle from Gerringong to Nowra, said although cases of the parasite infection in his region were at a low level, they were regular. "We see it all the time," he said. "It's not a major problem yet but it is a problem, to the point that we recommend [infected] cows are culled from the herd." Bill Bolin, who runs a 500-hectare property at Eden Creek, in the state's north, , estimates the parasite cost him about $25,000 when it hit his beef herd a few years back. "You always have a few cows aborting but suddenly we were getting large numbers," he said. *Stock and Land

Bird Crisis

Australian bird species are in crisis with at least 50 endangered or critically endangered and many of these in Queensland. Federal Environment Department figures show 23 birds are already extinct. Only about 50 mature individuals of the critically endangered eastern bristlebird from the Border Ranges remain in a fragmented population which is declining, primarily due to inappropriate fire regimes. The Australian painted snipe population from the Channel Country, Cape York and Fitzroy River has dropped by more than 30 per cent. The black-throated finch, found only in Queensland, is listed as vulnerable with fewer than 10,000 mature individuals. Pastoralism, drought and fire are thought to have had the greatest impact but the finch also will lose crucial habitat if the State Government approves Clive Palmer's proposal to mine in the Bimblebox Nature Reserve in central Queensland. BirdLife Australia chief executive Graeme Hamilton said the IUCN Red List four-yearly update on birds released yesterday described a global tragedy that was mirrored in Australia.

The finch had suffered a huge decline in just a couple of decades as clearing and the planting of exotic cattle grazing species such as buffel grass replaced native grasses upon which the birds fed. "In the 200-plus years since Europeans arrived in Australia we have so diminished our natural capital that 234 Australian birds are either extinct, threatened with extinction or near threatened," Dr Hamilton said. The update is a review of more than 10,000 bird species. "These figures should be a call for action rather than an excuse to abandon species as lost causes. Every one of Australia's threatened birds can be saved," Dr Hamilton said. Critically endangered birds include the orange-bellied parrot, regent honeyeater, grey-headed albatross, Christmas Island frigatebird, Norfolk Island Tasman parakeet, western ground parrot and the star finch, which is possibly extinct. Good news stories include an increase in numbers of the hooded plover, the black-eared miner and Gould's Petrel. *Courier Mail

Exotic Marine Species

When debris from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan began making its way toward the West Coast of the United States, there were fears of possible radiation and chemical contamination as well as costly cleanup. But a floating dock that unexpectedly washed ashore in Newport this week and has been traced back to the Japanese disaster has brought with it a completely different threat – invasive species. Scientists at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center said the cement float contains about 13 pounds of organisms per square foot, and an estimated 100 tons overall. Already they have gathered samples of 4-6 species of barnacles, starfish, urchins, anemones, amphipods, worms, mussels, limpets, snails, solitary tunicates and algae – and there are dozens of species overall. "This float is an island unlike any transoceanic debris we have ever seen," said John Chapman, an OSU marine invasive species specialist. "Drifting boats lack such dense fouling communities, and few of these species are already on this coast. Nearly all of the species we've looked at were established on the float before the tsunami; few came after it was at sea." Chapman said it was "mind-boggling" how these organisms survived their trek across the Pacific Ocean. The low productivity of open-ocean waters should have starved at least some of the organisms, he said. * Read more  ..

1080 and Foxes

Tasmanian landowners are being paid to attend focus groups looking at community perceptions of the State Government's highly controversial Fox Taskforce. However, one attendee claims the researchers were not interested in hearing from people who did not support the program or its use of 1080 poison. For more than a decade the Government has been trying to eradicate foxes from the state but are yet to find living proof that the mainland pest is active in Tasmania. Wegeena wildlife carer and fox sceptic John Hayward said he received a phone call inviting him to a meeting with fox taskforce officials and was told he would be paid $80 to attend. "It became clear it was solely to get people on side for continued, and perhaps intensified, poisoning," Mr Hayward said. Of the nine people invited to attend the meeting, he said he was the only one with reservations about baiting.  "They really didn't want to discuss the issue, the pros and cons, only the pros. "Everybody else was dead set for it, even to a degree that was unusual in farmers."

The fox taskforce was recently rolled into the Department of Primary Industries' invasive species unit in a bid to broaden the focus to other feral species including cats.  DPIPWE Resource Management and Conservation general manager Alistair Scott says the use of private company Myriad Research was a legitimate way to find out how people in different areas viewed the threat of foxes. Mr Hayward said when he was asked to attend it sounded like there was no interest in sceptics being involved. But Mr Scott denied this, saying for the four consultations already held the seven to nine people attending each were chosen at random. "Ongoing community support and awareness of the threat foxes pose is critical to the eradication efforts," he said. "In line with standard practice within the marketing and social research industry, each person was compensated $80 for their travel, time and involvement in the sessions." He said it was standard practice to ask participants to sign confidentiality agreements to protect the privacy of those involved. *Mercury


A landmark research project into great white sharks has appeared to overturn a number of widely held beliefs, including that swimming at dusk or dawn increases the risk of being attacked. And growing suspicions that so-called rogue sharks could have been responsible for a spate of recent fatal attacks are also likely to be untrue, according to the boss of WA's Fisheries Department. The preliminary findings come after a horror 22-month period in WA when five people were killed in attacks by white pointers. As the department confirmed it had tagged just 12 white sharks in WA since 2009, director-general Stuart Smith said new research seemed to debunk several theories about the mysterious creatures. Among them has been an investigation by Fisheries staff into whether white pointers effectively live in certain WA waters at times of the year and could be behind an increase in attacks and sightings. Mr Smith said the research, which was part of a broader study into the animals and their habits, indicated there was no such thing as "resident" white sharks.

"There is a suggestion that they might frequent a part of the State every year for a period," Mr Smith said during a parliamentary estimates hearing this week. "The work we have done so far if anything is disproving rather than proving that theory, although it is too early to draw any conclusions." Almost 100 white sharks have been tagged as part of the wider project, which is being run in collaboration with the South Australian Government and the CSIRO, although most were captured in SA. The study, published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series last week, found that great white sharks in waters off WA and SA west of the Bass Strait were a separate breeding population to those in the east. Study author Jennifer Ovenden, from the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, said although white sharks moved widely, almost right around the southern hemisphere, they seemed to come back to the same place in Australia to give birth and probably to mate. *TheWest

Despite inhabiting the same waters, two populations of Great White sharks living in the coastal waters of Australia are genetically distinct, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. The two groups of Great Whites, or white sharks, are separated by the Bass Strait, a stretch of water between the Australian mainland and Tasmania to the south. Genetic tests from 97 shark tissue samples dating back to 1989 confirmed this geographical divide. “The genetic makeup of white sharks west of Bass Strait was different from those on the eastern seaboard of Australia – despite the lack of any physical barrier between these regions,” said Professor John Pandolfi, a Chief Investigator at the University of Queensland. “Our tagging and tracking showed that white sharks travel thousands of kilometers,” said Barry Bruce, a lead study researcher from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). “But sharks tagged and tracked off eastern Australia did not go west of Bass Strait, and sharks tagged off Western and South Australia rarely went east. When they did – they often returned, so we started to wonder whether there was more than one breeding population.” “Now we know that while white sharks across Australia can mix, the intriguing thing is that they seem to return to either east or western regions to breed,” Bruce said. While previous work by other international research teams have identified separate genetic populations of white sharks across ocean basins, this is the first time such segregation has been found at the regional level.

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Ed Comment; Years ago I was scuba diving off Flinders, in Victoria. My dive buddy and I were on the bottom in about 30 feet of water. Although it's always very silent underwater, apart from the hiss of air the tanks, suddenly we both felt a very spooky silence, and a very bad feeling inside. We both looked up together, and above us was a Great White, quite a bit longer than the boat we were using. It was huge, swimming very slowly, and looked as though it was going to circle around us. My dive buddy dropped off his scuba tank, and held it under his arm. I did the same, and as the shark circled away from us, we dropped our lead weight belts and made a mad dash for the surface. The idea was that if the shark attacked, he might get the scuba tanks instead of us. I've never ever got into a boat so quickly in all my life. That was the end of our dive trip for the day, but I'll never forget seeing that magnificent animal, just hanging there in the water, moving ever so slowly around us. Divers say that the shark you see is not the shark that is going to eat you, but I was happy to give the diving away for the day. We didnt go back down for the weight belts.*