News in Brief – Dolphins breaking nets, frogs resistant to illness, and bad news for the Great Barrier Reef

Dolphins breaking fishing nets

Dolphin in the Western Mediterranean Sea have taken to breaking into fishing nets. While this is considered a serious problem it is thought that actually this is probably the fault of the fishermen. There is no limit on the quota that the fisherman from Cyprus are allowed to take. This is meaning that there simply aren’t enough fish left in the sea. What is more absurd about this is that local fisherman are highly critical of this policy and actually would like limits put in place so as to protect their income over the longer term and stop large boats coming in from elsewhere to decimate the future stock. Amusingly they have attempted pingers on the nets, in order to put the dolphins off. Unfortunately it appears that the dolphin rapidly worked out what these pingers meant and have taken to treating them as a dinner bell, coming in rapidly to feast.

Frogs resistant to illness

An epidemic has spread around the world affecting many different species of amphibian and pushing large numbers of them to the brink of extinction. This illness started in Africa; African bullfrogs are often used as laboratory animals around the world. Unfortunately this leads to this illness being spread very rapidly around parts of the world and therefore rather than only affecting the African bullfrog it has spread to many far more rare species being pushed to the absolute brink of extinction. In Australia alone it is believed that this illness has led to the extinction of four different species. This illness is thought to have lead to the extinction of 200 species around the world and these are only the ones that humans have found. This is incidentally the most catastrophic illness that humans have ever seen in action. The reason that I am writing about this is because there is finally a ray of hope; in Panama a group of frogs have been found that are completely resistant to this illness. While it is not known whether this is actually the end of the epidemic and the cure can be spread around, it is encouraging to see that it is not always something that leads to extinction.

Bad news for the Great Barrier Reef

On top of all the other damage that the Australian government has allowed to occur to the wonderful coral seas around its coast, it has now decided to significantly reduce the protection covering around 36% of its coast. In particular it has decided that a significant portion of the reserves will start to allow commercial fishing as well as private fishing. While private fishing is perhaps not a good thing in a protected area it is not usually significantly damaging to the Natural World. This is not the case with commercial fishing. Commercial fishing has done significant damage to many different wildlife habitats around the seas of the world, from dredging that has destroyed reefs to using dynamite and all sorts of other things. While I am sure that there will be limits to the powers that the Australian government are giving these commercial fishing trawlers, anything is going to be a reduction on the protection that currently exists and is therefore likely to exacerbate the threat that is already posed by global warming to the Great Barrier Reef.

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