Eye for Adventure

The ocean is there to be discovered and Steve Brady is an intrepid diver who has explored many underwater locations with a salty tale to tell. “We’ve got it all and there’s just so much diversity of marine life in and around Australia. It’s amazing” Brady says. “This is probably a funny thing to say but if I had gills I’d be a very happy boy.” With a litany of dive experiences under his belt, Brady wanted others to learn what the ocean has to offer. Informed by research from marine biologists and feedback from pro divers, he developed a calendar featuring marine wildlife events throughout the year, and uses the calendar to schedule dive trips at all levels of experience from beginner to advanced around Australia and beyond. “Finding where you can go to see certain marine life is a very big thing for people and I’m the same. I want to see mola molas, I want to see

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Ecologists Wild On Sound

Have you ever thought of using sound to navigate through the landscape? A team of scientists convert sound into a spectrum of coded colour bands to decipher hidden clues about the environment. Their work is making waves in ecology circles, with the identification of species so cryptic, trained specialists can’t spot them in the field.   In the paper “Long duration false colour spectrograms detecting species in large audio data sets” (Journal of Ecoacoustics) led by Dr Michael Towsey at the Queensland University of Technology, long duration sound recordings are visually represented in a false colour spectrogram (LDFC). By applying a set of mathematical formulae, sound waves are converted into their visual counterpart called spectral indices. Several spectral indices (symbolised by a three letter code) are calculated and represent different concentrations of acoustic energy recorded in the study area.     Depending on the aims of the research, the spectrogram produced reflects different combinations of these spectral (acoustic) indices that are

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Healthy environment, Healthy future – An Editorial

Warming of the oceans is a reality with Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice melting at a rapid rate. Rising sea levels already affect many island nations and the coastlines of different countries will soon experience increasing shifts in the shoreline toward the land. The rate of environmental change though is often assumed to be something human society can deal with in the future. Decisions related to global warming and actions needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions and reduce carbon in the oceans, are too late for some animals and plants, the current rate of modern extinction is estimated by some research studies as 10 species per day. Arctic environments are diminishing and the habitat specific animals and plants that live there and attract millions of tourists each year will disappear along with the ice. Even though sea ice is retreating at both ends of the planet, I have read in the media, companies are going to take advantage of this

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Viral Vectors for Change

Viruses have dominated the microscopic world of the oceans for billions of years and researchers find it difficult to track and isolate their activities because they are invisible to the naked eye. But science has finally caught up with these tiny vectors of change, says Marine researcher, Dr Karen Weynburg, a Synthetic Biology Fellow at the CSIRO and the University of Queensland. “For some people, it’s just not on their radar that viruses are so central to everything in life” Weynburg says. In the paper: Marine prasinoviruses and their tiny plankton hosts: a review, research led by Weynburg reported viruses co-evolved with their hosts and are immersed in a constant battle of survival to outwit and outplay for control. “Recently there’s been a discovery that probably what happened was that all life was RNA” Weynburg says. Viruses probably existed before cells, says Weynburg, and were the precursors of life. Viruses switched from RNA to DNA to avoid their genomes being

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