You think YOUR weather report sucks?

Weekend forecast for Australia

New South Wales residents should also be on alert for funnel web spiders, according to Australia’s Reptile Park, which issued a warning that the wet weather conditions and warm temperatures create “perfect conditions” for the deadly spiders to breed and “thrive” in gardens and homes in Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast.

Meanwhile, in Western Australia, the weather bureau issued a catastrophic fire warning for the state’s interior state on Thursday, while the risk level in the East Pilbara was extreme…

…Jake Meney, a reptiles and spider keeper at the Australian Reptile Park, said cool, damp places including laundry, clothes and shoes will attract funnel web spiders…

Meney also encouraged anyone who can safely catch a funnel web spider to donate it to the reptile park, so it can be milked and antivenom produced ahead of a summer of warm and wet weather – conditions which draw male funnel webs out in search of a mate to breed with…

The impact of La Niña on Australia’s wildlife is also being considered by shark experts, as they look to explain predatory behaviour that has seen more Australians killed in unprovoked shark attacks this year than in any year since 1934.

And please, please, keep your eyes open for irukandji jellyfish and eastern brown snakes.

Thanks, Honeyman.

Turns out Google’s undersea cables have a shark problem

There are many, many things that can go wrong as you lay thousands of miles of fiber optic cable along the ocean’s floor. Earthquakes can rip things up, as can fishing hooks. But now we know of a new threat: Shark attacks.

According to Network World, Google Product Manager Dan Belcher told folks at a Google marketing event in Boston last week that Google ensures its cable is sheathed in a Kevlar-like protective coating to keep the sharks from chomping through the line. Turns out this is standard operating procedure among undersea cable-layers, who must take a number of steps to keep aquatic life from harming (or being harmed by) data cables…

We’ve long known squirrels are a major problem to anyone laying cable, but according to a report by the International Cable Protection Committee cable bites—by sharks and other fish—remain a surprisingly persistent problem. In the 1980s, a deep-ocean fiber-optic cable was cut four times. Researchers blame crocodile sharks for those attacks after finding teeth in the cable.

The cable protection folks really have no idea why sharks bite cables either, although some suggest it may be due to “electro magnetic fields from a suspended cable strumming in currents,” they say in their report…

…Chris Lowe, the professor who runs California State University, Long Beach’s, Shark Lab, says they may simply be curious. “If you had just a piece of plastic out there shaped like a cable, there’s a good chance they’d bite that too.” But even an exploratory nibble is enough to cause some serious trouble. “Just a little bite is enough to get through the jacket, damage the fibers and then you’re screwed,” Lowe says.

Nothing to do with shark foreplay, at least.

Angry viewers demand that NBC cancel “Shark Hunters”

shark fins
Shark fins drying — click to enlarge

With the advent of the second season of NBC Sports’ terrible show about killing threatened species, “Shark Hunters,” the internet is starting to erupt. Over 16,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the network to cancel the show, and countless others have taken to Twitter to express their outrage.

The show follows a group of fishers as they compete in a tournament to win money for bringing in the biggest shark. Among other disturbing things about the show, the hunters target only species that are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List for the contest — Mako, thresher and porbeagle sharks. In a world where shark finning and loss of apex predators is a major concern, the glorification of killing these animals seems incredibly backwards.

The petition, hosted by Change.org, is addressed to Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBC Sports Group, and several other executives in the company. It reads:

Programs like this not only glamorize shark hunting and killing but also make the whole action “OK”. Sharks play an important role in our oceans and if we continue to hunt them, our ocean’s health will continue to decline. Change.org petitions have successfully convinced other channels, like National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, to cancel other violent hunting shows. I’m sure with enough signatures, we can get NBC to listen.

I’m not so sure. I’d also suggest you send an email or otherwise complain to Comcast – who owns NBC-Universal.

Even killing sharks “for food” is a load of crap when often all that’s taken is the fins for soup and seasoning. That’s like the last Sun King of France killing thousands of song birds to have a pate made from their tongues.

Thanks, Mike

More than 300 Australian sharks are now on Twitter

Government researchers have tagged 338 sharks with acoustic transmitters that monitor where the animals are. When a tagged shark is about half a mile away from a beach, it triggers a computer alert, which tweets out a message on the Surf Life Saving Western Australia Twitter feed. The tweet notes the shark’s size, breed and approximate location…

The tagging system alerts beachgoers far quicker than traditional warnings, says Chris Peck, operations manager of Surf Life Saving Western Australia. “Now it’s instant information,” he tells Sky News, “and really people don’t have an excuse to say we’re not getting the information. It’s about whether you are searching for it and finding it.”

The tags will also be monitored by scientists studying the sharks. Researchers have tagged great whites, whaler sharks and tiger sharks.

“This kind of innovative thinking is exactly what we need more of when it comes to finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict,” says Alison Kock, research manager of the Shark Spotters program in South Africa. Kock tells NPR that the project is a good idea — but that people should know that not all sharks are tagged…

Kock and Kim Holland, a marine biologist who leads shark research at the University of Hawaii, agree that the tweets won’t be enough to protect swimmers.

“It can, in fact, provide a false sense of security — that is, if there is no tweet, then there is no danger — and that simply is not a reasonable interpretation,” Holland says, pointing out that the reverse is also true. “Just because there’s a shark nearby doesn’t mean to say that there’s any danger. In Hawaii, tiger sharks are all around our coastlines all the time, and yet we have very, very few attacks…”

The typical human response when something wild and natural kills something tame and unnatural that has invaded their evolutionary habitat – is to kill the wild beast. This is only exaggerated by governments who [of course] must consider additional aspects of the question. Like – how will these people vote in the next election if I’m not perceived as a father figure/protector.

Coke hidden in frozen sharks – bought with cold, hard cash?

Mexico’s navy has seized more than a ton of cocaine stuffed inside frozen sharks, as drug gangs under military pressure go to greater lengths to conceal narcotics bound for the United States.

Armed and masked navy officers cut open more than 20 shark carcasses filled with slabs of cocaine after checking a container ship in a container port in the southern Mexico state of Yucatan.

“We are talking about more than a ton of cocaine that was inside the ship,” Navy Commander Eduardo Villa told reporters after X-ray machines and sniffer dogs helped uncover the drugs. “Those in charge of the shipment said it was a conserving agent but after checks we confirmed it was cocaine,” he said.

Drug gangs are coming up with increasingly creative ways of getting drugs into the United States — in sealed beer cans, religious statues and furniture — as Mexico’s military cracks down on the cartels moving South American narcotics north.

Best one I recall was the mule who had his leg broken so he could have a cast made of cocaine. He figured he’d get through the x-ray easier with proof of injury.