Category Archives: Oceans

environmental issues and stories around oceans

Why Australia has the best beaches (from the man who’s been to every one)

Maroubra Beach, Sydney, Australia

Theres one person whos been to every beach in Australia – all 12,000 of them. It’s Professor Andy Short, Director of the Coastal Studies Unit at the University of Sydney. In this interview Andy explains how he came to visit every one and why Australia has the world’s best beaches – by far.

Audio: Interview with Prof Andrew Short on why Australia’s beaches are best.

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‘Sharkwater’ will change how you think of sharks

Sharks have had a pretty bad rap for a long time. Now a new film, busts the myths about sharks and highlights the dire situation for shark populations around the world.

Rob Stewart, an underwater photographer, set out to show the beauty of sharks in his film ‘Sharkwater’, but stumbled instead onto the billion dollar shark fin industry. He found sharks having their fins cut off and their bodies thrown back in the ocean on a large scale. All to supply the demand for shark fin soup in Asia.

I went to see the film, then tracked down the director – who was in Paris on his way to Cannes – to flesh out the story. Click here to listen to the interview with the PR Manager for sharks, Rob Stewart.

Check out the trailer and the making of the Sharkwater film.

And if you want to help, you can adopt a shark through the Nature Conservation Council. They’re one of the few organisations campaigning to protect sharks in Australia.

Cataret Islands: world’s first climate change refugees?

As the world continues to debate what to do about climate change, the people living on a small atoll to Australia’s north are about to become our region’s first climate change refugees.

The Cartaret Islands, north east of PNG, are only a metre above sea level. Each year tidal surges on the island get bigger.

The tides have damaged the islands’ fresh water sources and food growing areas. To the point where the people of The Cartarets are now planning to evacuate to nearby Bougainville. It’s estimated their island will be unihabitable by 2015.

Phil spoke with Charlotte Sterrett, Climate Campaigner for Oxfam Australia, to find out more about the situation and what can be done. Listen to the interview.

Byron Bay: nature has more in store

Ever been to Byron Bay? I have, just recently. And each year hordes of international visitors and Australians go there. Why wouldn’t you? Nature has carved out one of the most brilliant, beautiful coastal niches in the world.

But most visitors would be oblivious to the fact nature hasn’t quite finished its work there. And with climate change, it may be working overtime to bring some changes which may be a tad unwelcome – particularly for the rich folk who’ve built their designer houses right on the sand dunes. I spoke to Australia’s leading coastal expert Professor Bruce Thom (of the Wentworth Group of Scientists) to explore what nature has in store for Byron. Listen to the Byron Bay – Bruce Thom interview.

An important listen if you’re going to spent some time at Byron in the future.

Paul Watson: eco-terrorist or eco-hero?

Sea Shepherd tangle with Japanese Whalers in the Antarctic

Paul Watson is a man on a mission. He has played a leading role in alerting the world to what he calls the illegal actvities of Japanese whalers. In 2007 I spoke by satellite phone to Paul in the Antarctic, the day after his ship the Farley Mowatt had chased down and collided with a Japanese whaling vessel. Click on the link above to play this podcast.

Following is a link to an emotive video posted by Watson’s organisation Sea Shepherd on YouTube. It explains where he’s coming from:

Paul Watson

Wikipedia sums up some opposing views on Watson:

“Paul Watson has been denounced as an ecoterrorist. Some former colleagues in Greenpeace have distanced themselves from him. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jim Bohlen, one of the founders of Greenpeace, said: ‘I’ve known the guy for 15 years, and he’s absolutely insane’.”

“Thus far, all attempts at prosecuting Watson have failed. Watson defends his actions as falling within international law and Sea Shepherd’s right to enforce maritime regulations against illegal whalers.”

What’s the latest? Well, the new Rudd government in Australia appears to be taking Watson’s outcries more seriously, recently sending a large Australian Customs vessel to monitor the Japanese whalers and gather evidence which may be used in international courts against them.

There’s more on the new Australian government’s stance in this ABC story just prior to Christmas. Click here.

Expect to see Paul’s ship tangling again with the Japanese on a TV screen near you. They’re down there now. How he finds them, I don’t know. Next interview.

Kayaker explains why he paddled from Australia to NZ

James Castrission discusses: why they did it, the highs and lows of the trip, his sea legs, what he and his partner Justin Jones missed most from their old lives, and how they felt about hitting dry land. Why they did it and the highs and lows (Catrission 1)

Castrission speaks by satellite phone in an exclusive interview about the expedition to be the first to cross the Tasman Sea – from Australia to New Zeland with kayaking partner Justin Jones. At the time of the interview, James and Justin were out on the Tasman, 115 kilmetres short of NZ. A few kilometres later, they were to sight Mt Taranaki in New Zealand and paddle non-stop, flat out to reach their goal. This was their last interview in the midst of their journey.

Kayaker tells of 4m shark and “the massive whirlpool”

James Castrission tells of the 4 metre shark that tested if their kayak was food. And the massive whirlpool which forced them to paddle back towards Australia to get out of it and thereby loose 10 days. (In fact the boys paddled an extra 1000km.) Sharks and whirlpool (Castrission 4)

Kayaker speaks about sleep deprivation training, the vast ocean, the next trip and Justin

James Castrission discusses training (including sleep deprivation exercises), his friendship with Justin, their next trip and feeling small in the vast ocean. Sleep deprivation, Justin, the next trip, and the vast ocean (Catrission 2)

Kayaker describes how their use of the net has re-shaped expeditioning

James Castrission discusses how their use of the internet has re-shaped expeditioning, why their expedition has been so professional, their thoughts on Andrew McAuley who a year earlier had disappeared 90km short, the relentless gnawing of the sea on them and their gear, and why their daily washing was so critical. How the internet has re-shaped expeditions (Catrission 3)

Kayaker speaks about food, beer and life after the expedition

James Castrission discusses the “ravenous mind” (food), beer, how he’s changed as a person, the welcome in New Plymouth and life after the expediton. Food, beer, and life after the expedition (Catrission 5)