Good Great Barrier Reef news from Australia

This 2014 video is about the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

From WWF:

Landmark victory for the Reef, and people power, as dredge spoil dump ban passed in Qld Parliament

Posted on 12 November 2015

New laws banning the sea dumping of industrial dredge spoil have passed in the Queensland Parliament in one of the most significant conservation victories ever for the Great Barrier Reef, said WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said that, for more than a century, dumping huge amounts of dredge spoil in Reef waters was the norm. But the continuing decline of Australia’s national icon sparked an international campaign to end this out-dated practice.

“For everyone around the world who cares about the Reef this is a moment to savour,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“We’ve stopped up to 46 million cubic metres of dredge spoil from being dumped in Reef waters in coming years.

“That’s enough dredge spoil to fill 4.6 million dump trucks. If you lined those trucks up end-to-end on Highway 1 they would circle Australia three times.

“This is a huge win for people power. We thank the scientists, mums and dads, Australians young and old, and concerned citizens around the world who have all contributed to this victory. And we thank the Federal and Queensland Governments for listening and acting,” he said.

AMCS Reef Campaign Director Imogen Zethoven said: “The dumping ban becoming law sits alongside the establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the World Heritage Area and the green zones as landmark moments for Reef protection”.

In June the Federal Government banned the dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. But in recent years about 80% of dumping has occurred outside the park, closer to shore. The Queensland Government’s Sustainable Ports Development Bill now extends protection to the whole World Heritage Area. It also restricts major new capital dredging to Townsville, Abbot Point, Gladstone, and Hay Point/Mackay.

WWF-Australia and AMCS thanked the Liberal-National Party Opposition and two cross benchers for joining the government to support the Ports Bill.

“It’s particularly heartening to see genuine bipartisan support for the new law, since it fulfils key commitments made to the World Heritage Committee in the Reef 2050 Plan. The Queensland LNP should be congratulated for strengthening their position on Reef protection,” Ms Zethoven said.

Ms Zethoven said many challenges remained.

“The latest dredging plan for Abbot Point could be approved any day, the promised ban on transhipping has not yet been achieved, the Ports Bill doesn’t cover dumping of dredge spoil from smaller projects like marinas, and each year about one million cubic metres of spoil from maintenance dredging is dumped in Reef waters,” she said.

AMCS and WWF want to work with the Queensland Government to reduce that volume per year and minimise the impacts.

WWF-Australia Media Contact:
Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571

Australian speartooth sharks, new research

This video says about itself:

Rare Speartooth Shark (Glyphis glyphis): Freshwater Sharks

24 April 2010

Few people are aware that Australia has several species of sharks that will live in freshwater and this is one of them! The Speartooth Shark (Glyphis glyphis) is abundant in only localised and isolated regions and is subsequently considered Critically Endangered. The sharks in this clip were collected by the team at Cairns Marine, under special permit, for a strategic breeding program at the Melbourne Aquarium. As the only representatives of their species in captivity anywhere in the world, this is a vital step towards their long term species conservation.


Adult speartooth sharks caught and tagged by scientists for first time ever

12th November 2015 / Mike Gaworecki

Only juvenile specimens of the elusive, endangered shark species have been previously observed by scientists.

  • The two adult specimens caught by CSIRO researchers at the mouth of the Wenlock River in Queensland, Australia were a male that measured 2.3 meters in length and a female that was 2.2 meters.
  • Until now, no one even knew how big a fully mature speartooth shark could get.
  • Each of the sharks was fitted with satellite tags that will collect data on the sharks’ movements, as well as the depth, salinity and temperature of the waters the sharks frequent.

Scientists with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, have caught and tagged two adult speartooth sharks (Glyphis glyphis) in a remote corner of Australia — the first time live adults of the species have ever been observed by scientists, let alone studied.

The elusive shark species, which is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), was first discovered in Australia in the Bizant River, on Cape York’s eastern side, in 1982. Only juvenile specimens have been previously observed. Until now, no one even knew how big a fully mature speartooth shark could get.

CSIRO has been researching juvenile speartooth sharks in the Wenlock River since 2006 and discovered that they are restricted to a few river systems in the Australia’s Northern Territory and Queensland states.

The two adult specimens caught by the CSIRO researchers at the mouth of the Wenlock River in Queensland were a male that measured 2.3 meters (7.5 feet) in length and a female that was 2.2 meters (7.2 feet). Each of the sharks was fitted with two satellite tags that will detach (one after 60 days, the other after 120 days), float to the surface and upload the data they’ve collected on the sharks’ movements, as well as the depth, salinity and temperature of the waters the sharks frequent.

While juvenile speartooth sharks spend the first three to six years of their life in the low-salinity river waters 40 to 80 kilometers (about 25 to 50 miles) upstream from the sea, scientists had thought that adult speartooth sharks spend most of their time in marine environments, only returning to rivers to give birth.

But the truth is that “We currently have no idea where the adults occur, all we know is that they are found in marine environments somewhere off the northern Australian coast,” CSIRO researcher Dr. Richard Pillans, who tagged the sharks together with colleagues from CSIRO and the Australia Zoo, said in a statement.

This general lack of knowledge makes conservation efforts difficult. The IUCN estimates that there are, at most, just 2500 speartooth sharks left in the world. They’ve been found in tropical river systems in Australia and Papua New Guinea, but very little else is known about where they live out their lives as adults and, therefore, what threats they are facing.

The presence of a male at the mouth of the river could possibly indicate that speartooth sharks also mate in riverine environments, for instance — a vital piece of information for conservationists to have.

“It is hoped that the information obtained from these tags will provide the first data on where adult speartooth sharks live,” Pillans added, “with this data critical to obtaining a better understanding of threats to this endangered species.”

Sharks to become smaller and poorer hunters by century’s end, climate change study suggests: here.

White humpback whale off Queensland, Australia

This 10 August 2015 video is called Awesome footage of rare white whale off the coast of Australia | Mashable.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Rare albino humpback whale spotted off the coast of Queensland in Australia

It was spotted on Monday

Hardeep Matharu

Tuesday 11 August 2015

A rare albino humpback whale has been spotted off the coast of Australia.

The mammal, migrating from the Antarctic to warmer waters in the north, was spotted by tourists who had paid charter boats in Queensland, in Australia’s Gold Coast, on Monday.

Aerial footage taken by news cameras captured the moment the huge, unusual animal emerged from under the surface.

The sighting caused speculation as to whether the whale was in fact Migaloo, a world-famous albino humpback which was first seen in 1991 and is known to be one of the three white whales which live in the waters of Queensland.

But Trevor Long, Sea World marine services director, told ABC Radio that this was another albino whale, nicknamed the “Son of Migaloo”.

Mr Long said this animal was smaller and younger than Migaloo and was the other white whale which has been regularly sighted off the east coast of Australia since 2011, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Read more:

Reclusive deep-water whale washes up on US beach
Ricky Gervais condemns ‘tragic’ mass slaughter of whales in Faroe Islands
Paddle boarder gets shock of his life when killer whale takes a ‘nibble’ on his board

A study in 2011 found that Migaloo lacked a gene for making an enzyme involved in making melanin, one of the primary dark pigments found in mammalian skin, explaining its light tone.

This particular variation type is reportedly hereditary, meaning it is possible that Migaloo could pass it on to an offspring.

Night parrot discovery in Australia

This video from Australia says about itself:

Help us Save the Night Parrot

9 August 2015

With the recent discovery of the only known population left in the world, we have a second chance to ensure the survival of this unique and remarkable species.

While little is known about the mysterious Night Parrot, no more than 100 individuals are thought to remain. That is why we must move quickly to save it.

The most immediate threat facing this highly vulnerable bird is uncontrolled feral cats prowling their habitat – being both nocturnal and ground-dwelling, the Night Parrot is vulnerable to predation.

If we are to haul it back from the brink of extinction, a recovery team must be on the ground now, implementing feral animal control as a matter of urgency. We will also need to develop a fire management plan before summer, and tackle the issue of human disturbance – the other main risk to the bird’s future.

Together, we can save the Night Parrot. Please donate urgently today.

This 9 August 2015 video from Australia is called Elusive night parrot captured for the first time in 100 years in Queensland.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Night parrot capture and tagging hailed as ‘holy grail’ moment for bird lovers

The area of south-west Queensland where the elusive nocturnal parrot, presumed extinct, was caught is now to be protected

Oliver Milman

Monday 10 August 2015 03.26 BST

The elusive night parrot, a species thought to be extinct for about 100 years, has finally been captured and tagged by scientists as part of a pioneering project to safeguard the remaining ground-dwelling birds.

Aside from two dead parrots found over the past 25 years, the night parrot had not been captured since the 1890s and was presumed extinct by many bird experts.

But in 2013, ornithologist John Young announced that he had taken a few blurry images of the night parrot after a decade spent scouring the spinifex vegetation and caves of the Queensland outback for the bird.

Following an 18-month search for a night parrot, fellow ornithologist Steve Murphy netted one of the birds on 4 April. Feather samples were taken from the bird, and a small tracker, with a battery that lasted for 21 days, was placed on its leg to gain greater insight into the habits of the mysterious creature.

“It’s fantastic to have this bird, which is such an enigmatic creature,” said Rob Murphy, executive manager of conservation group Bush Heritage Australia. “When you talk to bird lovers, this is the holy grail. It’s like finding a thylacine.

“Before this research, we didn’t know what they ate, where they got their water from or anything. We’re really starting from ground zero with the night parrot.”

The area of south-west Queensland where the nocturnal parrot was caught is now to be protected, with the property bought and managed by Bush Heritage Australia.

The tagged bird roamed up to 8km for food each night, but remained in the same nesting site. It is unclear how many of the animals remain, and Bush Heritage is keeping the exact location of its habitat, the only known site for night parrots in Australia, a secret.

“This is such a rare bird that giving the location would attract some well meaning people but also poachers,” Murphy said. “The confidentially of the site has been the best friend to the bird.”

About 30 remote cameras have been set up to gain a better understanding of how many night parrots are in the area. However, these have so far proved less effective than sound recordings that have picked up the sounds of several birds within the prickly spinifex shrubs.

While the drought that has gripped western Queensland has reduced the number of feral cats in the area, the feline predators remain a mortal threat to the night parrot.

Bush Heritage will trial a feral cat “grooming trap” at the site to kill any cats in the area. The trap, developed by South Australian firm Ecological Horizons, contains a range of sensors that determine whether an animal passing within four metres is a cat.

If it identifies the target as a cat, the trap will spray it with a toxic gel that the cat will ingest when grooming.

See also here.

Lorikeets, originally from New Guinea?

This video from Australia says about itself:

Lorikeet Feeding Frenzy

22 November 2012

The feeding of the Rainbow Lorikeets at Bungalow Bay Koala Village which is on the North-east side of Magnetic island, just off the coast of Townsville, Queensland.

From Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Volume 90, September 2015, Pages 34–48:

Molecular phylogenetics suggests a New Guinean origin and frequent episodes of founder-event speciation in the nectarivorous lories and lorikeets (Aves: Psittaciformes)


We report the first DNA sequence-based phylogeny of parrots known as lories and lorikeets.

The group is inferred to have originated within the last 10 million years in New Guinea.

Dispersal and founder-event speciation have been important in their diversification.

Dispersal appears to have been primarily ‘downstream’ from New Guinea and Australia.

Some genus level changes to the group’s systematics are recommended.


The lories and lorikeets (Aves: Loriinae: Loriini) are a readily recognizable, discrete group of nectarivorous parrots confined to the Indo-Pacific region between Wallace’s Line and the Pitcairn Island group in the central-east Pacific Ocean. We present the first phylogenetic analysis of all currently recognized genera in the group using two mitochondrial and five nuclear loci.

Our analyses suggest a New Guinean origin for the group at about 10 million years ago (95% HPD 4.8–14.8) but this origin must be interpreted within the context of that island’s complicated, recent geological history. That is, the origin and early diversification of the group may have taken place as New Guinea’s Central Cordillera arose and the final constituent terranes that form present-day New Guinea were accreted. The latter activity may have promoted dispersal as a key element in the group’s history.

We have detected several instances of dispersal out of New Guinea that we argue constitute instances of founder-event speciation. Some phenotypically cohesive genera are affirmed as monophyletic but other genera are clearly in need of taxonomic dismantlement and reclassification. We recognize Parvipsitta Mathews, 1916 for two species usually placed in Glossopsitta and we advocate transfer of Chalcopsitta cardinalis into Pseudeos Peters, 1935. Other non-monophyletic genera such as Charmosyna, Psitteuteles and, probably, Trichoglossus, require improved taxon sampling and further phylogenetic analysis before their systematics can be resolved. Cursory examination of trait mapping across the group suggests that many traits are ancestral and of little use in determining genus-level systematics.

Lorikeet and lori family tree, according to new research

English coastal birds news

This is a knot video from Sweden.

Another video says about itself:

Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) (Scolopacidae: Snipe, Godwits, Curlews etc.)

In Australia the Whimbrel is found in coastal locations during the warmer months of the year. Birds which migrate to Australia generally originate from eastern Siberia. Here filmed on the Cairns seafront in North Queensland. Can be found in Australia with the larger Eastern Curlew.

From Debby Saunders in Dorset, England, on Twitter today:

Ferrybridge on the outgoing tide 3 Knot, 2 Whimbrel, 10 Sanderling, 5 Turnstone, Bar[-tailed God]wit, 80 Dunlin, 20 Ringed Plover.