New plant species discovered in new Australian national park

Solanum jobsonii, newly discovered Australian plant species

After sad child abuse news from Australia, now better news.

From ScienceDaily:

New plant species discovered in new national park in Australia

June 28, 2017

Summary: A new species of bush tomato discovered in a recently established national park in Australia provides a compelling argument for the importance of federal investment in science and conservation.

A team of botanists from the US has named a new bush tomato species, based on collections made by their Australian colleagues, during government-funded surveys in a brand new national park.

After looking at collections from biodiversity surveys of a 10,000 km2 area now known as Limmen National Park, Bucknell University biology professor, Chris Martine, decided to form an expedition to relocate and describe a mysterious bush tomato uncovered during the government-sponsored studies.

A year later, Martine and his co-authors, including an undergraduate student, have published the new species in the open access journal PhytoKeys. The discovery offers a powerful case for investing in conservation through park systems at a time when these systems are under threat.

For the team of US scientists, knowing where to go was one challenge, but understanding the landscape in such a remote corner of the Australian Northern Territory and figuring out how to get there was quite another. Martine and his team from Bucknell (undergraduate lead author Mae Lacey and postdoctoral fellow Jason T. Cantley) could not do it without the local assistance and expertise of Peter Jobson, Senior Botanist at the Northern Territory Herbarium in Alice Springs.

To acknowledge the pivotal role of Jobson in the successful search, the new species, Solanum jobsonii, has been named after him.

“Jobson is one of a handful of botanists employed by the Northern Territory government who are tasked with stewarding a vastly diverse flora,” explains Martine. “Not only are many species there of conservation concern, but unknown numbers of species are yet to be found and given names. Those scientists are doing yeoman’s work.”

Martine named a previously discovered species for Ian Cowie, the Curator at the Northern Territory Herbarium in Palmerston, in 2011. Solanum cowiei, a species from Litchfield National Park, was described in a paper appearing also in PhytoKeys.

The scientists hope that the discovery of this latest new species turns a spotlight on the importance of protecting natural areas and supporting the individuals who are charged with their care.

“Notably, the use of trained biodiversity scientists in surveys of the proposed parkland provided masses of data in support of protecting this area as a national treasure,” write the authors in the article. “The discovery of the new species described here, and the potential description of other new forms of biodiversity from Limmen National Park, is a testament to the benefits of not only investing in national parks in Australia and elsewhere, but also investing in parks-based scientific inquiry.”

The new species, a relative of the cultivated eggplant, has been recorded under specific habitat conditions from only four locations in the monsoon tropics of northern Australia. Because of this, Martine and his colleagues have suggested that it be listed as “Vulnerable” as per the Red List Categories and Criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“There are rare and unusual species all over the world, just like this one, that deserve our appreciation and protection”” said Martine. “Luckily, many are already living within the boundaries of conservation areas like state and national parks in Australia, the US, and elsewhere.”

“However, the rise of anti-science and anti-conservation rhetoric in the US, especially, has put federal and state protected lands here at risk,” he said. “It also threatens the rich biodiversity our Founding Fathers celebrated and the American scientific enterprise they held so dear.”

Racism, torture for Australian children in prisons

This video from Australia says about itself:

Making Justice Work: Raintree Park press conference in response to Don Dale abuses

26/07/2016 Raintree Park press conference: Making Justice Work respond to the 4 Corners program which showed abuse in the Don Dale youth detention centre.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Australian unions outraged at abuse of youth prisoners

SECRETARY of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Dave Oliver, has written a letter speaking out about the abuse of youth in a detention facility in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Horrendous footage emerged on state television last week of youth being ‘spit-hooded’, stripped naked, forced into restraining positions for long periods of time and attacked by tear gas at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. According to the UN, the treatment of youth at Don Dale could amount to torture.

96% of the youth in Northern Territory detention centres are from Australia’s indigenous inhabitants, the Aboriginal people. Protesters in Australia have linked the treatment of Aboriginal youth in Australian facilities to the treatment of black youth and workers in America, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Oliver’s letter reads as below.

‘Dear Prime Minister,

‘The Australian Union movement welcomes today’s announcement of a Royal Commission into juvenile detention in the Northern Territory. However, having considered the proposed terms of reference, it is clear that more must be done in order to ensure that this is not another redundant report that fails to bring about lasting change.

‘The confinement of the proposed Royal Commission to only the Northern Territory, the involvement of the Territory Government and the development of the Terms of Reference within Cabinet with the exclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and its leaders is unacceptable.

‘The Royal Commission must be guided by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community with a national remit. A Commission should also consider the recommendations from a number of existing reports on this issue which have been ignored by Territory and federal governments.

‘On these points, the union movement is proud to echo the demands of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda and Shane Duffy, the chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and co-chair of Change the Record.

‘We have seen Royal Commissions including the Aboriginal Deaths In Custody (1991) Commission, and reports such as Little Children are Scared (2007), fail to change the way the white Australian justice deals with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Previous reports have served to paper over what has now been revealed to the world as a national disgrace.

‘This Royal Commission must do more to end, and not simply conceal, the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention. The proposed Royal Commission must be different from what has come before, and cannot be the only action taken to address the systemic issue of mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and children in custody.

‘In relation to the magnitude and appalling nature of the incident at Don Dale, it is also right for the Federal Government to consider the position of the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister and the entire Northern Territory Government. These elected officials have failed in their duty of care to their constituents.

‘It is right to say that the country has completely lost its trust in these representatives.

‘In scoping a Royal Commission, there must also be structural change to ensure greater levels of consultation is prioritised with the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander community.

‘This should include the government keeping its election commitment to establish an Independent Custodial Inspector, a measure that has been called for by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services repeatedly, to no avail. Finally, this Royal Commission must lead to decisive action to address the myriad other crises in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Youth suicide is at crisis levels, imprisonment rates continue to climb and community services have been systematically defunded. Policies such as the Community Development Programme, whose discriminatory nature harks back to even darker periods of race relations in this country, must be addressed. I call on you to demonstrate the intention to govern for all Australians by taking the radical but necessary steps to address the issues exposed this week, and the myriad other crises that remain hidden.

‘Yours sincerely,
‘Dave Oliver
‘Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions’

Australian workers and indigenous people have been remembering a historic victory for Aboriginal people, the struggle for which took place half a century ago. Fifty years after Aboriginal workers walked out of their jobs in protest at their conditions and the theft of their land, a celebration will be held to commemorate this historic triumph for the land rights movement.

Members of the Australian Council of Trade Unions will travel to Darwin to join community elders for the ceremony, with speeches, song and traditional dancing in the community of Daguragu.

The anniversary commemorates the long campaign of Vincent Lingiari, who in 1966 led about 200 Aboriginal stockmen and their families in the great Walk-Off from Wave Hill Station to protest against brutal working conditions and battle the pastoralists taking Aboriginal land.

After years of struggle the Gurindji people won through, and on August 16, 1975, then Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam poured soil into the hands of Vincent Lingiari to mark the return of more than 3,000 square kilometres of the Wave Hill land to his people.

‘I want to promise you this act of restitution we perform today will not stand alone,’ he said. ‘Your fight was not for yourselves alone, and we are determined that Aboriginal Australians everywhere will be helped by it.’

Kara Keys, Indigenous Officer with the ACTU, says the Wave Hill victory was a proud moment. The anniversary provides an opportunity to remember the great advances that have been hard won by those involved in the land rights movement, and the continuing fight for equality before the law and in the workplace for indigenous people,’ Keys told the website Working Life.

‘The ACTU executive is relocating to Darwin in August as a demonstration of the union movement’s commitment to fighting for equality for all people, and in recognition of the pivotal role the Wave Hill Walk Off played in the ongoing fight for Indigenous equality in Australia.’

Keys warned that many of the advances made in the wake of Gough Whitlam’s symbolic gesture are being lost because of the narrow-minded and unfair policies of the current Coalition Government. Many of the challenges faced by the workers of Wave Hill are still faced by indigenous workers today,’ she says.

‘Discriminatory policies such as the Community Development Programme echo the policies that oppressed those who walked off Wave Hill, and the union movement stands fully committed to the ultimate goal of complete equality for all workers in this country.’

Linda Burney, newly elected as the first Aboriginal woman in the House of Representatives, agrees. There’s an awful paternalism creeping back and a regression in the way Aboriginal affairs are administered,’ she said. But she is not giving up, and recalls the way Aboriginal and social justice leaders celebrated in 1974, when national songwriter Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody released the song From Little Things Big Things Grow to mark the Gurindji people’s victory for land rights.

‘The stars were in line – the strike coincided with the beginnings of a concerted Aboriginal rights movement,’ says Burney. That old man and his mob and all their supporters were main actors in a renaissance in Aboriginal self-determination, pride and identity.’

Burney will now be bringing the fight for equality to the national political stage, with constitutional reform to recognise indigenous rights at the top of the agenda. Treaty and recognition are not mutually exclusive and suggesting otherwise is simply untrue,’ she says. ‘I think we can do both.’

Members of the National Union of Workers have won a big victory by forcing Australia’s largest horticultural producer to recognise their union and come to the negotiating table. One union organiser said that the workers had ‘made history’ with their action.

The agriculture and horticulture industries are notorious for being rife with worker exploitation, illegal underpayment and poor working conditions. To make things worse, employers are forced by their buyers, the big supermarkets, to drive down costs – read: workers’ wages.

Workers on student and seasonal visas are hired to do the work, with recent investigations into ‘black jobs’ revealing that these foreign workers often take home between A$10-13 an hour, far beneath the minimum wage.

In the past, less than two per cent of this workforce was unionised; however, workers for farming giant Costa Group, at the company’s tomato-growing site at Guyra in northern New South Wales, have bucked this trend. Conditions at Guyra are grim, workers have said, with workers fainting there whilst working in recent years.

‘In the summer the heat is just extreme,’ one worker said, adding that shade cloths are now not used in the hottest part of the day in the glasshouses. The other big thing I want from them is to respect their workers,’ the worker said about the other grievances of the employees. ‘One (member of the) management is pretty abusive when they talk to staff; it makes a lot of staff angry.’

Workers there are paid the minimum wage of A$17.70 an hour, with the week’s overall pay adding up to barely A$600 each week. It’s very hard for people who are out here. It’s a really poor wage.’

Piece rates at other sites operated by Costa mean that workers may earn even less, under the legal minimum, and there is no overtime rate of pay. Matt Toner of the National Union of Workers (NUW) said that ‘It’s probably the worst award in the country. It’s making workers scrape by on the bones of their arses.’

The NUW had no members amongst Costa’s workers at Guyra just a year ago, but managed to collect the signatures of 200 workers at the site, which is needed under Australian law to bring the employers to the bargaining table. Costa initially disputed the signatures on the petition, but in the end was forced to accept.

However, tensions are still high between the employer and the workers, with reports last week that the company was attempting to block union access to the workers. The fight against unscrupulous employers – read capitalists – still has a long way to go in Australia, as recent scandals in UK businesses Sports Direct and BHS among others, show that it has to on the other side of the world also.

Less than four days after appointing former Northern Territory (NT) chief justice Brian Martin to head a royal commission into the sadistic abuse of boys inside the NT’s juvenile detention centres, the Liberal-National Coalition government was forced to replace him yesterday: here.

Australia: Juvenile prison abuse exposed in Queensland: here.

Australian state government imprisons teenagers in adult jail: here.

Australia: Testimony details abuse in youth detention centres: here.

Last month, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) released previously suppressed CCTV footage documenting the aggressive response of guards and police officers to a disturbance at the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre last November. The video shows Territory Response Group (TRG) police, dressed in military fatigues, aiming assault rifles at unarmed youth detainees as they surrendered: here.

Australian government promotes racist diversion over so-called “African gangs”: here.

Australia continues punitive treatment of refugees on Manus Island: here.

Right-wing senator calls for a “White Australia” immigration policy: here.

25,000 diving tarantula spiders discovered in Australia

This 2017 video is called The Tarantulas of Australia | Ultimate Spiders.

National Geographic Super Spider – Fascinating Spider Documentary.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Discovery of 25,000 diving tarantulas could prove lucrative for tiny Australian community

The huge cluster of newly-discovered spiders could prove attractive to scientific researchers from across the world

Doug Bolton

Thursday 25 June 2015

A tiny settlement in the sparsely-populated Northern Territory of Australia has been the subject of scientific attention, after it was discovered that a nearby flood plain is home to an infestation of 25,000 tarantulas from a newly-discovered species.

However, rather than this unsettling news making sure that no-one will ever visit the town again, a leading Australian arachnologist believes that this could be good news for the remote community of Maningrada, which is over 300 miles from Darwin, the nearest city.

Dr Robert Raven, a senior curator at the Queensland Museum, believes that the venom of the spiders, which is strong enough to induce vomiting in humans, could be used for medical research purposes.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, he said that “pharmaceutical applications could apply across a broad spectrum.”

The spider, which is commonly called the diving tarantula due to its worrying ability to survive underwater by creating air bubbles, was only discovered in 2006, and the full potential of it as a medical resource has not yet been realised.

The uniquely high concentration of spiders in Maningrada means that it would make the business of finding the spiders and extracting their venom much easier.

Dr Raven said that the normal colony size is only around two or three hundred spiders – around 100 times smaller than the size of the newly-discovered cluster.

The sheer size of the Maningrada group could be very attractive to biologists and medical researchers trying to find out more about the under-researched creatures.

Read more: Giant tarantula discovered in Sri Lanka

Asbestos tarantula on the loose in Cardiff

Brazilian puts tarantulas in his mouth to save rainforest

Dr Raven hopes that the attractiveness of the region to researchers could work in favour of the small community, which is mostly made up of Aboriginal people.

He told ABC News that the intellectual property surrounding the spider belongs to the community.

He said: “This is a resource for the community in a number of ways… and this could flow back into the community eventually to help them manage the parks better.”

He added that he hopes young and strong scientists, capable of handling the harsh conditions, isolation and difficult spiders found in Maningrada, will take up the challenge of finding out more about the mysterious diving tarantula.

Australian government helps Japanese military-industrial complex

This video from Australia says about itself:

Filming the bombing of Darwin (silent)

16 February 2012

On the 19th of February seventy years ago, the city of Darwin was bombed. Sustaining heavy damage and civilian casualties in air raids by Japanese forces, this attack was the first of over sixty air raids conducted up until November 1943.

For footage of the actual bombing, we rely on the films of amateur filmmakers who were stationed in Darwin at the time. They also took in scenes of destruction, filmed once the danger had passed. Though mostly black and white, faded, scratched and lacking a sound track, the films clearly convey the devastating effects of the attacks : masses of smoke rise against a clear sky, out of which a shot fighter plane drops to earth; ships stream plumes of smoke, and the wreckage of homes is clearly seen.

By Peter Symonds in Australia:

Australian government signals purchase of Japanese submarines

10 September 2014

The Australian government has given its strongest indication to date that it will end the protracted debate over replacement submarines for the navy by purchasing off-the-shelf Japanese vessels rather the pursuing the construction of an Australian-designed submarine.

While the choice is being presented in economic terms, such a decision would have far-reaching geo-political ramifications, tying Japan and Australia more closely together strategically as part of the US military build-up in Asia directed against China.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the media on Monday that the priority was getting “the best and more capable submarines at a reasonable price.” He added: “We should make decisions here based on defence requirements, not on the basis of industry policy.” Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane reinforced the message yesterday, saying that while no decision had been made, the government would prioritise “value for money.”

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill was quick to point out that the axing of Australian built submarines would destroy thousands of jobs in his state, where the project is centred. The cost of designing and building 12 submarines is estimated to be about $A40 billion, roughly double the price of buying Japanese Soryu class vessels, or European alternatives.

Over the past month, a spate of articles in the Australian press has strongly suggested that the government and defence establishment were veering toward buying Japanese submarines. Defence Minister David Johnston, who visited Japan and inspected the Soryu submarine in June, declared it to be “extremely impressive.” It is the largest diesel powered submarine in the world, with a far longer range than its European rivals.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that “several senior [Australian] defence officials said that a decision on the Japanese vessels gained momentum after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s July visit to Canberra, aimed at strengthening military ties amid China’s regional muscle-flexing.”

“The exact details haven’t been finalised, but it’s very close—before the end of this year. The Japanese are the strong favourites,” one defence official told the newspaper. The article indicates the close attention being paid in Washington to the decision.

The Obama administration pressed the previous Labor government to buy nuclear-powered submarines, an option that was rejected on the grounds that Australia lacked the necessary nuclear infrastructure to support the vessels.

Washington, however, has strongly backed the Australian purchase of the Soryu vessels. US Admiral Stuart Munsch, the chief US undersea naval officer in Asia, said last month such cooperation between Australia and Japan was “a national decision for them to make with each other, but we would certainly be welcoming of that partnership.”

The comments underline the geo-political calculations involved. The US has encouraged and supported the drive by Prime Minister Abe to remilitarise Japan, including his government’s contentious constitutional “reinterpretation” in July to allow for “collective self-defence.” As a result, Abe has ended restrictions on Japan forging alliances, waging war in concert with the US and also selling arms abroad.

If the $20 billion Australia-Japan submarine deal is finalised, it would turn Japan into a weapons exporter for the first time since the end of World War II and provide a boost to the Japanese armaments industry. Moreover, it would more closely integrate Japan, Australia and the US, because the submarines are expected to be equipped with American weapons systems.

More broadly, the arms deal would further consolidate Japan and Australia as the linchpins of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—an aggressive strategy aimed at undermining Chinese influence and encircling it militarily.

No one is in any doubt that the new Australian submarines would be integrated into the Pentagon’s war planning against China, including for an economic and naval blockade. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) released a report yesterday based on a top-level conference in April entitled “The Submarine Choice” that reviewed Australian submarine options in detail.

ASPI analyst Benjamin Scheer bluntly explained that a key consideration for Australia’s future submarine (FSM) was its potential US alliance contribution. “Any debate about the FSM and US coalition operations needs to recognise that the US military regards China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as the most serious long-term strategic challenge in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.”

Fellow analyst Mark Thomson warned in an article in July that the purchase of Japanese submarines was “laden with geopolitical consequences.” He continued: “The export of Japanese submarines to Australia would represent a much more rapid normalisation of Japan’s defence posture than anyone has anticipated so far. It would alarm China and heighten Beijing’s fears of containment by the United States and its US allies. Those are serious first-order strategic considerations not to be dismissed lightly or as somehow secondary to the reasons for acquiring submarines in the first place.”

The fact that Canberra and Tokyo, with Washington’s support, appear to be finalising a submarine deal is another sign of the escalating US-led confrontation with China. By 2020, the Pentagon plans to have 60 percent of its naval and air assets in the Asia Pacific. The undersea component will include 30 fast attack nuclear submarines, 8 ballistic missile nuclear submarines and 2 cruise missile nuclear submarines, as well as 11,000 submariners.

Scheer noted: “In contrast, the PLA Navy is still in the very early stages of operating nuclear submarines, its conventional boats are relatively easy to detect, and its antisubmarine warfare capabilities remain limited.”

Within the Australian political establishment, the opposition Labor Party and the trade unions have denounced the purchase of Japanese submarines in reactionary nationalist terms. Addressing Australian Submarine Corporation workers in South Australia yesterday, Labor leader Bill Shorten accused the government of “contracting out” national security and branded Japanese submarines as inferior “home brand” products that threaten Australia’s security and jobs.

Far from opposing Australia’s integration into US preparations for war against China, the Labor Party unequivocally supports it. The previous Labor government turned over the Australian parliament to Obama in November 2011 to formally announce his “pivot to Asia” and signed an agreement to open up Australian military bases to American forces—a process that has been expanded under the present Coalition government.

Last weekend, on the first anniversary of the election of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Liberal-National government, prominent media outlets revived two serious scandals that could be used against him. While no “smoking guns” have yet been produced linking Abbott directly to either affair, they involve major figures in his government, and the allegations are moving closer to the prime minister himself: here.

The Disturbing Expansion of the Military-Industrial Complex: here.

Red-backed fairywrens in Australia, new study

This 13 August 2014 video is called Studying Red-backed Fairywrens in Australia.

More about this study is here.

See also Seven Ways of Looking at a Fairywren: Student Research in Australia.

World’s first Ramsar wetland nature reserve celebrates 40th birthday

This video about wetlands is called Ramsar Convention.

From Wildlife Extra:

The world’s first Ramsar Site celebrates 40 years

It was on 8 May 1974, that Australia designated the Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory as the world’s first Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It was negotiated through the 1960s by countries and non-governmental organisations that were concerned at the increasing loss and degradation of wetland habitat for migratory waterbirds. The treaty was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. It is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem, and the Convention’s member countries cover all geographic regions of the planet.

The Convention uses a broad definition of the types of wetlands covered in its mission, including lakes and rivers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands and peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, near-shore marine areas, mangroves and coral reefs, and human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, and salt pans.

The Cobourg Peninsula, a remote and unspoilt wilderness area on the far northern coast of Australia, was recognised 40 years ago for its diversity of wetland habitats, threatened marine species, significant seabird colonies and value as a refuge and breeding site. It also has a fascinating Indigenous, Macassan and European history.

Now known as Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, it is jointly managed by the Arrarrkbi people and the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory. It was the first reserve in Australia to have a formal joint management arrangement established with indigenous people.

Australia currently has 65 Ramsar Sites across the continent, with an area of 8.3 million hectares, covering coral reefs, coastal lagoons, mangroves, inland rivers, mountain peat bogs and underground caves.

Britain: The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust recently launched its Wetland Manifesto at a reception at the Houses of Parliament. MPs, peers and business leaders heard how protecting our remaining wetlands can help our health, the economy and the public purse: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Medieval African-Australian trade?

Kilwa coins

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

Ancient discovery set to rewrite Australian history

May 19, 2013

Five copper coins and a nearly 70-year-old map with an ‘‘X’’ might lead to a discovery that could rewrite Australia’s history.

Australian scientist Ian McIntosh, currently Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University in the US, plans an expedition in July that has stirred up the archaeological community.

The scientist wants to revisit the location where five coins were found in the Northern Territory in 1944 that have proven to be 1000 years old, opening up the possibility that seafarers from distant countries might have landed in Australia much earlier than what is currently believed.

Back in 1944 during World War II, after Japanese bombers had attacked Darwin two years earlier, the Wessel Islands – an uninhabited group of islands off Australia’s north coast – had become a strategic position to help protect the mainland.

Australian soldier Maurie Isenberg was stationed on one of the islands to man a radar station and spent his spare time fishing on the idyllic beaches.

While sitting in the sand with his fishing-rod, he discovered a handful of coins in the sand.

He didn’t have a clue where they could come from but pocketed them anyway and later placed them in a tin.

In 1979 he rediscovered his ‘‘treasure’’ and decided to send the coins to a museum to get them identified.

The coins proved to be 1000 years old. Still not fully realising what treasure he held in his hands, he marked an old colleague’s map with an ‘‘X’’ to remember where he had found them.

The discovery was apparently forgotten again until anthropologist McIntosh got the ball rolling a few months ago.

The coins raise many important questions: How did 1000-year-old coins end up on a remote beach on an island off the northern coast of Australia?

Did explorers from distant lands arrive on Australian shores way before James Cook claimed it for the British throne in 1770?

We do know already that Captain Cook wasn’t the first white seafarer to step on Australia’s shores.

In 1606 a Dutch explorer named Willem Janszoon reached the Cape York peninsula in Queensland, closely followed a few years late by another Dutch seafarer Dirk Hartog.

And the Spaniard Luiz Vaez de Torres discovered the strait between Papua New Guinea and Australia, which was later named Torres Strait in his honour.

However, none of these explorers recognised that they had discovered the famed southern continent, the ‘‘terra australis incognita’’, which was depicted as a counterweight to the known land masses of the northern hemisphere on many world maps of the day.

McIntosh and his team of Australian and American historians, archaeologists, geomorphologists and Aboriginal rangers say that the five coins date back to the 900s to 1300s.

They are African coins from the former Kilwa sultanate, now a World Heritage ruin on an island off Tanzania.

Kilwa once was a flourishing trade port with links to India in the 13th to 16th century.

The trade with gold, silver, pearls, perfumes, Arabian stone ware, Persian ceramics and Chinese porcelain made the city one of the most influential towns in East Africa at the time.

The copper coins were the first coins ever produced in sub-Saharan Africa and according to McIntosh have only twice been found outside Africa: once in Oman and Isenberg’s find in 1944.

The old coins might not be of monetary value, but for archaeologists they are priceless, says McIntosh.

Archaeologists have long suspected that there may have been early maritime trading routes that linked East Africa, Arabia, India and the Spice Islands even 1,000 years ago.

Or the coins could’ve washed ashore after a shipwreck.

When Isenberg discovered the copper coins he also found four coins that originated from the Dutch East India Company – with one dating back to 1690 raising memories of those early Dutch seafarers that stepped on Australian shores well before Cook.

McIntosh wants to answer some of these mysteries during his planned expedition to the Wessel Islands in July.

And it’s not only about revisiting the beach that was marked with an ‘‘X’’ on Isenberg’s map.

He will also be looking for a secret cave Aboriginal legends talk about.

This cave is supposed to be close to the beach where Isenberg once found the coins and is said to be filled with doubloons and weaponry of an ancient era.

Should McIntosh and his team find what they are looking for, the find might not only be priceless treasure, but relics that could rewrite Australian history.


See also here.

Ancient African coins that could change history of Australia: here.

Australian bird names, new book

This video says about itself:

April 14, 2010

Join wildlife photographer Marie Read as she documents the bird life in Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Read more about her trip in Living Bird magazine.


Australian Bird Names

A Complete Guide

Ian Fraser
Jeannie Gray


352 pages, 245 x 170 mm

Paperback New – May 2013

ISBN: 9780643104693 – AU $ 49.95

Australian Bird Names is aimed at anyone with an interest in birds, words, or the history of Australian biology and bird-watching. It discusses common and scientific names of every Australian bird, to tease out the meanings, which may be useful, useless or downright misleading!

The authors examine every species: its often many-and-varied common names, its full scientific name, with derivation, translation and a guide to pronunciation. Stories behind the name are included, as well as relevant aspects of biology, conservation and history. Original descriptions, translated by the authors, have been sourced for many species.

As well as being a book about names this is a book about the history of ever-developing understandings of birds, about the people who contributed and, most of all, about the birds themselves.

Coca-Cola kills Australian seabirds

Coca-Cola has not only links to death squads in Colombia … its plastic bottles kill seabirds.

This video from Australia says about itself:

May 5, 2013

Coca-Cola is blocking a recycling scheme. Take action,, ask your MP to support a national ‘Cash for Containers’ scheme.

The Huffington Post in the USA writes about this:

Greenpeace Coke Ad Targets Plastic, Industry Practices That Harm Sea Birds

Posted: 05/15/2013 4:48 pm EDT

A shocking new ad released by Greenpeace is targeting the beverage industry and the harmful impact its plastic bottles have on sea birds.

The environmental group is trying to raise money to place the 45-second ad on-air after Coca-Cola fought a recycling program in Australia because the beverage giant said it was bad for business. The company later won the case, ending a container-deposit program that had doubled recycling rates in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Sea birds often mistake shiny plastic floating in the ocean for food, which then fills their stomachs and can lead to starvation and death, according to the International Bird Rescue.

Photographer Chris Jordan has released some troubling images of albatross remains stuffed full of brightly colored plastics as part of an ongoing project to document the impact of trash on sea bird populations.

Coca-Cola is telling your waiter NOT to serve tap water: here.

Australian solar eclipse, Friday 10 May

This 10 May 2019 video is called Solar eclipse seen in Australia.

From Australian Geographic:

Australian solar eclipse: Friday 10 May 2013

Aussies can catch a glimpse of a so-called annular solar eclipse this week, the only one until 2035.

ON FRIDAY MORNING, an annular solar eclipse will be visible from parts of Australia, for the last time until 2035.

An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon, in a distant part of its orbit around our planet, covers a large portion of the Sun’s area as seen from the Earth, hence a ring or ‘annulus’ is left around its edge. This is not to be confused with a total eclipse, the last of which was visible from Australia in November 2012. This annular eclipse is the first to be visible from Australia or New Zealand since 1999.

Send us your photos of Friday’s eclipse

The only sizable town that lies on the path of annularity – where a complete viewing of the eclipse is possible – is Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. The Musgrave Roadhouse, north of Laura in Queensland, is also suggested as a vantage point. Those near Newman, Western Australia are expected to see a donut-shaped annular eclipse sunrise, while other parts of Australia will see a partial solar eclipse.

From Tennant Creek the eclipse will begin at 6:55am. reach its zenith at 8:07am and end at 9:33am.

Regions of Australia outside of the main eclipse path will see a partial solar eclipse – a ‘bite’ taken out of the Sun. The maximum of the eclipse in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane can be seen at 8:52am, 8:57am and 8:58am respectively (AEDT). Note that the Sun will not be completely covered, so it is important that you do not look directly into the sun at any time during the eclipse.

How to view an annular solar eclipse

Stuart Ryder from the Australian Astronomical Observatory says that while the annular eclipse is a novelty and a great photo opportunity, it is no comparison to a total solar eclipse.

“That tiny ring of uncovered Sun wipes out the dramatic effect of a total solar eclipse,” says Stuart. “The eye simply adjusts to the fading light over an hour or so, and most people on the eclipse path would not even be aware an eclipse was happening above them if it wasn’t in the news.”

Stuart warns that because it will not be completely covered, the public should not look directly into the sun at any time during the eclipse. The safest way to view the eclipse is to use projection. This involves creating a pinhole in a piece of paper or plastic, which is then attached to a tripod and adjusted until the image of the Sun can be seen on a screen.

Watching for ring-like shadows on the ground as the sun shines through gaps in leaves is also an effective way of viewing the eclipse.

When to see the solar eclipse at its maximum

*All times are local

Perth – 6:36am (Sun will be below the horizon, so sunrise, at 6:54am, is the best time to see it)
Darwin – 8:07am
Adelaide – 8:15am
Melbourne – 8:52am
Canberra – 8:55am
Sydney – 8:57am
Brisbane – 8:58am
Hobart – 8:59am

– Text by Samantha Wheeler


Clouds part for 2012 solar eclipse in Queensland
VIDEO: The moment of solar eclipse totality
Tips for viewing the 2012 solar eclipse in Australia
Solar eclipses: chasing the shadow
Chasing the eclipse: 4 minutes of bliss
Lunar eclipse a sight to see
Eclipse in the East
Fear of eclipse widespread in Aboriginal culture
Total lunar eclipse: 10 December 2011
Aboriginal astronomers: world’s oldest?
Aurora Australis light show
Meanwhile, back on earth
Earth from space: time lapse video
Rare ‘shining’ clouds linked to climate change
Black hole caught swallowing red giant star
New type of black hole yields secrets
A short history of the universe
Digital side of the moon landing
GALLERY: 10 of the best Australian observatories

Eclipse report: here.

Partial solar eclipse visible in Syria on November 3rd ~ 2013: here.

The full moon will appear to get a tiny bite taken out of it as it undergoes a shallow partial eclipse today. (See lunar eclipse pictures.): here.