I remember once being at the Tollgate Islands, offshore from Batemans Bay with Royal Botanic Gardens seaweed expert, Dr Alan Millar, as he emerged from a scuba dive holding a grab bag of specimens that he wanted to investigate. Once he had taken out his regulator and emerged from the waters of the Batemans Marine Park, he said: “Forget about searching for life on Mars, I’m looking for life on Earth!”
Today there is another story reminding us how much is yet to be discovered in our marine environments:
At the recent Australian Coral Reef Society annual conference in Brisbane I met a young scientist called Renata Ferrari. We were chatting at the end of day one when canapés were being passed around. On the first plate being offered were some prawns. Without any embarrassment Renata asked the waiter whether they were sustainably harvested prawns. He looked confused but scurried off to the kitchen to ask the chef, while I held the invertebrate in my fingers with bated breath…He returned unsure and Dr Ferrari declined. I ate mine guiltily…She told me I needed a sustainable seafood app on my phone…Later I chased up a piece she wrote on the issue:
“Prawns are an Aussie favourite. They’re also a great example of how confusing shopping for sustainable seafood can be. Prawns can be a bad choice; for example, if they’re black tiger prawns farmed and imported. They can be a “think” choice, if they’re king prawns that have been trawl caught. Or they can be a “better” choice, particularly if they’re greentail prawns that have been haul caught in NSW.
“Given this complexity, it is important that the origin and fishing/farming method be labelled at any seafood vendor. If prawns are just labelled “prawns”, how can a consumer know what they’re getting?
“Australia needs laws that require more stringent labels on seafood sold at any vender. Together with consistent sustainable seafood guidelines, labelling laws could help make the consumption of sustainable seafood commonplace. [Read more →]
Fighting cigarettes, on the beaches and in the dunes…This week two young surfers, Nat Woods and Daniel Smith, set off on the Trash Safari – a journey that started at Sunshine Beach in Queensland. They are the founders of the Clean Coast Collective and believe passionately that no-one should walk past litter on the coast…Over coming months they will be organising events around the Australian continent…
Montage image presented at the recent 88th Australian Coral Reef Society conference in Brisbane.
By James Woodford
Welcome to Tropical Sydney, where a Manly Ferry ride could one day be a coral reef cruise.
Towards the end of her keynote address, at the 88th Australian Coral Reef Society conference in Brisbane, Dr Adriana Vergés, a marine ecologist at the University of New South Wales, flashed a slide onto the screen behind her.
It was a manipulated image of Sydney Harbour, half above and half below the water. The photo looked stereotypically glorious until the audience’s eyes wandered to what lay beneath the surface – a magnificent coral seascape in crystal clear water. There were plate and staghorn corals along with a cloud of tropical fish.
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Last month found me sailing to the coral sea reefs. I was in the middle of nowhere, not a care in the world; one kilometre of water underneath, no land or reefs for many miles and a fair wind giving life to the sails. As usual my thoughts drifted across the horizon as I settled into the rhythmic pattern of this ocean world. I glanced at the plotter and realised I could be in trouble. I raced back to the stern and began frantically pulling in my trawling line.
On my bike, on my way to work I passed a couple with a homemade telescope out the front of their house in Townsville and they invited me to look at the Transit of Venus…I was skeptical but then made out the disk of Venus in front of the North Queensland Sun and was stunned…I was also amazed when my iPhone captured an image of the spectacle.
And a few hours later I went back for another look…and it looked like this….
An Australian environmental news website edited by author and journalist James Woodford: photos, blogs, discoveries and guest viewpoints. James is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts as the Ocean Correspondent. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org