Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Australia: Climate change – Scientists discover first hybrid shark

January 6, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is not sure whether the first discovery of a hybrid shark is encouraging or disturbing. Sharks have survived countless global upheavals and have changed little in basic design for well over 100 million years. Perhaps the following gives a clue as to how they’ve managed it. That some feel the need to do it now is perhaps the marine equivalent of the canary alarm. Not gas in a coalmine. But greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Thought provoking I hope.

Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

Scientists have identified the first-ever hybrid shark off the coast of Australia, a discovery that suggests some shark species may respond to changing ocean conditions by interbreeding with one another.

A team of 10 Australian researchers identified multiple generations of sharks that arose from mating between the common blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) and the Australian blacktip (Carcharhinus tilstoni), which is smaller and lives in warmer waters than its global counterpart.

“To find a wild hybrid animal is unusual,” the scientists wrote in the journal Conservation Genetics. “To find 57 hybrids along 2,000 km (1,240 miles) of coastline is unprecedented.”

James Cook University Professor Colin Simpfendorfer, one of the paper’s co-authors, emphasized in an e-mail that he and his colleagues “don’t know what is causing these species to be mating together.” They are investigating factors including the two species’ close relationship, fishing pressure and climate change.

Australian blacktips confine themselves to tropical waters, which end around Brisbane, while the hybrid sharks swam more than 1,000 miles south to cooler areas around Sydney. Simpfendorfer said this may suggest the hybrid species has an evolutionary advantage as the climate changes.

As a result, he wrote, “We are now seeing individuals carrying the more tropical species genes in more southerly areas. In a changing climate, this hybridization may therefore allow these species to better adapt to different conditions.”

The researchers – who had been working on a government-funded study of the structure of shark populations along Australia’s northeast coast – first realized something unusual was going on when they found fish whose genetic analysis showed they were one kind of blacktip but their physical characteristics, particularly the number of vertebrae they had, were those of another. Shark scientists often use vertebrae counts to distinguish among species.

The team also found that several sharks that genetically identified as Australian blacktips were longer than the maximum length typically found for the species. Australian blacktips reach 5.2 feet; common blacktips in that part of the world reach 6.6 feet.

Demian Chapman, assistant director of science of Stony Brook University’s Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, said the idea that sharks can interbreed is “something a lot of shark biologists thought could happen but now we have evidence, and it’s fantastic evidence.”

He added, however, that the fact that these two species were so closely related made it easier for them to mate than wildly divergent ones.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to see great white/tiger sharks anytime soon, or bull/Greenland sharks,” he said. “If any species was going to hybridize, it was going to be this pair.”

Brigitte Again: Aussie joke

October 12, 2011

Hugh Paxton’s blog with a deep sense of unease gives the floor once again to Brigitte!

She begins!

A New Zealand   ventriloquist visiting Australia walks into a small town and
sees a  local sitting on his veranda patting his dog.

He figures he’ll have a  little fun, so he says to the Ocker… ‘G’ day, mind
if I talk to your  dog?’

Villager:  ‘The dog doesn’t talk, you stupid  Kiwi.’

Ventriloquist:  ‘Hello dog, how’s it going  mate?’

Dog:  ‘Yeah mate, doin’ all right.’

Aussie: (look  of extreme shock)

Ventriloquist:  ‘Is this villager your owner?’  (pointing at the Villager)

Dog:  ‘Yep’

Ventriloquist:   ‘How does he treat you?’

Dog:  ‘Yeah, real good mate.   He walks me twice a day, feeds me good tucker,
and takes me to the  lake once a week to play.’

Aussie:  (look of utter  disbelief)

Ventriloquist:  ‘Mind if I talk to your  horse?’

Aussie:  ‘Uh, the horse doesn’t talk either…I  think.’

Ventriloquist:  ‘Hey horse, how’s it  going?’

Horse:  ‘Cool mate’

Aussie:  (absolutely  dumbfounded)

Ventriloquist:  ‘Is this your owner?’ (Pointing at  the villager)

Horse:  ‘Yep, that’s him’

Ventriloquist:   How does he treat you?

Horse:  ‘Pretty good mate, thanks  for asking. He rides me regularly, brushes
me down often and keeps me in  the shed to protect me from the heat.’

Aussie:  (total look of  amazement)

Ventriloquist:  ‘Mind if I talk to your  sheep?’

Aussie:  (in a panic) ‘The sheep’s a f*cking  liar…’

Facebook’s Biggest Birthday Party To Date!

March 16, 2011

Facebook has brought friends  to millions.

And in the case of  an Australian schoolgirl (aged 16) has brought over 200,000 replies to her birthday party invite. All saying ‘Yes, we’ll be there!’

Her mistake was to suggest that her friends were welcome to bring their friends.

Her father was quoted by AFP as saying, “She was just anxious about whether anybody would show up to her birthday.”

As the Aussies say, no worries on that score.

The party, sensibly, has been cancelled. A party for twenty 16 year olds is more than enough.

200,000?  Sever my gonads with a dull edged razor! An ordeal too ghastly to be imagined!  

Facebook! Dear me!

Hugh Paxton Blog Advisory on Facebook birthday party invitations – Treat with  caution!



Brigitte’s Pick: Images that speak volumes – Scenes of Australian flooding

January 24, 2011

These images speak volumes!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Imagine design

A Pattern of Islands: Part something or other in a series (I think it is number 10): Christmas Island. And Crabs!

January 12, 2011

The Australian territory of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean has attracted media attention recently folowing the shipwreck and subsequent drowning of illegal immigrants and/or genuine asylum seekers being trafficked by human smugglers. Hugh Paxton’s Blog fell in love with Christmas Island and here posts a happier story.

Sort of.


Red Crab, Christmas Island

Red Crab, Christmas Island by H.Paxton


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