Secret life of great whites

THE great white, witdoodshaai, squalo bianco, grand requin blanc, menschenhai, the man-eater and even the white death.
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A CSIRO shot of a great white off Port Stephens.

Humans know many names for Carcharodon carcharias but much about the world’s largest predatory fish remains a mystery.

Great whites are the apex oceanic predator and are found throughout Australian waters, from the bight to the Torres Strait.

They use the continental shelves like highways and some can travel thousands of kilometres in a few months.

But no human has ever seen a great white mate or give birth. There are just a handful of nurseries along the coast where juveniles congregate before they’re big enough for the open ocean.

One is off Stockton beach and large numbers of young great whites regularly swim within the surf line, beneath unsuspecting bathers.

But great white attacks are extremely rare given the number of people entering the water each year.

In Australia, there have been nine fatal attacks blamed on great whites since 2002 but Griffith University’s Dr Jonathan Werry believes we don’t have much to worry about.

There are many theories about why they attack humans – we look like seals when wearing wetsuits, or maybe sharks associate us with food because of excessive chumming by shark cage diving operators and fishing fleets – but none are proven.

Dr Werry saw a pattern emerging from the incidents (he doesn’t call them attacks). He said most occurred in areas far away from known great white nurseries and feeding grounds.

‘‘The sharks involved are just passing through the area,’’ he said. ‘‘They’re not locals, so to speak.

‘‘Sharks are not crocodiles. Humans are prey for crocodiles every time.

‘‘But great whites may be different to other sharks. We need to do more research on them to find out.’’

However, Dr Werry said it was extremely important to preserve great whites, not just because removing them would upset the ecosystem’s food chain.

He said great whites’ vertebrae, skin and tissue held a record of the environment, like tree rings or ice cores.

Great whites can live for up to 70 years and act like oceanic encyclopedias, storing decades of information about pollution levels and fish stocks.

Dr Werry said a four-metre male white was recently found dead with its huge head stuck in an underwater cave off Sydney Harbour. When researchers ran tests on its body, they found it had been poisoned by a build-up of toxins.

‘‘There were moderate amounts of these toxins in the harbour but the animal died because of years of exposure, causing an overload in its system,’’ he said. ‘‘If that sort of thing is happening at the top of the food chain, it must be occurring lower down.’’

Dr Werry believed that if we could learn more about great whites, we could protect them, humans and the oceans. AAP

■ Don’t panic – panicking will cause you to lose concentration

■ Don’t poke or punch – punching a shark will only anger it, and trying to poke its eyes on the side of its head will only put another limb within bite range

■ Hug – if the shark bites your arm, try to hug it or move your arm with its head as it thrashes from side to side

■ Wait – the shark will eventually need to take another bite; wait until it lets go and then pull your limb away

■ Curl – into a ball; if the shark comes back, it will have less to bite onto if your arms and legs are tucked in

■ Douse and wrap – slather your wound in disinfectant and wrap it in cling film; this will apply pressure and hold your limb together better than a soggy bandage

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Film festival celebrates a worldwide love of the sea, video

SEA LEGS: The 11 films in the Ocean Film Festival document the stories of those whose lives are linked to the ocean, including free diver Guillaume Nery , surfers, swimmers and oceanographers. This picture: Julie Gautier
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SEA LEGS: The 11 films in the Ocean Film Festival document the stories of those whose lives are linked to the ocean, including free diver Guillaume Nery, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers.

SEA LEGS: The 11 films in the Ocean Film Festival document the stories of those whose lives are linked to the ocean, including free diver Guillaume Nery , surfers, swimmers and oceanographers.

SEA LEGS: The 11 films in the Ocean Film Festival document the stories of those whose lives are linked to the ocean, including free diver Guillaume Nery , surfers, swimmers and oceanographers.

SEA LEGS: The 11 films in the Ocean Film Festival document the stories of those whose lives are linked to the ocean, including free diver Guillaume Nery, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers.

SEA LEGS: The 11 films in the Ocean Film Festival document the stories of those whose lives are linked to the ocean, including free diver Guillaume Nery, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers.

SET to light up the screens of Newcastle this month, the Ocean Film Festival is making a splash across Australia.

The festival, which features 11international short films, will be showcased on March 15 at Tower Cinemas in Newcastle’s CBD.

The films document the experiences of divers, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers during two hours of footage.

Viewers are invited to share in the stories of world champion free diver Guillaume Nery on a deep underwater quest and the touching story of Pascale Honore as she rediscovers her passion for surfing, years after a car accident left her paralysed.

Other stories include that of spear-fisherman Kimi Werner, off the coast of Hawaii, and an 82-year-old veteran diver’s tale of the harsh realities of life for female free divers in South Korea.

The films provide audiences with a true appreciation of an ocean culture, which reaches every corner of the globe and encourage a deep respect for the world’s oceans and its creatures.

The festival coincides with recent widespread opposition to a proposal by the federal government to cull sharks along the West Australian coastline.

Ocean Film Festival spokeswoman Jemima Robinson said the festival worked with the Australian Marine Conservation Society to promote the preservation of the world’s oceans.

‘‘Eighty-two per cent of Australians don’t support the shark cull and neither do we,’’ Miss Robinson said.

‘‘We are all about inspiring people to love the ocean. People naturally protect what they love.’’

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Morrison in PNG for Manus talks

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has flown to Papua New Guinea for talks with some of the country’s senior government ministers about conditions on Manus Island.
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office confirmed Mr Morrison is meeting with the country’s Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Patoo, and Attorney-General, Kerenga Kua, on the management of the Manus Island detention centre.

Mr Morrison was not contactable on Friday afternoon.

The meeting comes nearly a week after a riot in the Manus Island detention centre led to the death of an asylum-seeker and injuries to several others.

Mr Berati, 23, was killed and 62 other asylum seekers were injured in violent scenes at the Australian-run immigration detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island last Monday.

On Friday, the federal government signed a new memorandum of understanding with the NT police to manage disturbances.

The MOU sets out the responsibilities of NT police in assisting with security and incident management at the territory’s four centres.

A former arrangement with the Liberal National Party government has also been extended which will see an additional $48 million handed over by Canberra to meet the costs of running the detention facilities and related services in the Top End.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison signed the MOU.

Later he joined Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the Larrakeyah Barracks defence base in Darwin to thank navy and other personnel involved in the government’s controversial Operation Sovereign Borders operation.

Mr Abbott told service personnel they were performing brilliantly in extremely difficult circumstances.

“This has been a difficult and dangerous job, but it’s been carried out with great professionalism and skill by our Naval, Customs, Army and Air Force personnel,” he said after mingling with OSB staff at a lunch in the Junior Officers’ Mess.

“All of them have been operating together very effectively to give us the quite extraordinary result of 71 days now without a successful illegal people smuggling operation to Australia.”

“So, from the Government to the Border Protection personnel, an enormous thank you; and from the people of Australia to our Border Protection personnel, a big salute – an extraordinary job being very professionally carried out right now.”

Mr Morrison said the task of stopping the boats remained significant and while ultimately it was hoped that detention facilities holding some 30,000 people nationwide could be closed, the Territory would continue to play a role.

“Now, we are reviewing all of those centres that are here in Darwin but that commitment through that MOU, I think, indicates very strongly that there will continue to be a detention footprint here in Darwin,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Pru Goward, Katrina Hodgkinson dispute over Goulburn unresolved

Resolution of a dispute between the Liberals and Nationals over the seat of Goulburn is unlikely to be resolved until next week at the earliest after the latest discussions between the parties failed to deliver an agreement.
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On Friday it emerged Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson was set to withdraw her bid to move to the seat of Goulburn at next year’s state election, averting what was shaping as a bitter fight with her Liberal cabinet colleague Pru Goward.

Fairfax Media understands Premier Barry O’Farrell urged Ms Hodgkinson, a Nationals MP, to reconsider “for the sake of the government”.

But Ms Hodgkinson’s decision is believed to be contingent on a satisfactory deal being struck between the Liberals and Nationals.

The parties met on Friday but no resolution was reached, likely pushing the matter into next week.

One issue that may be on the table is an extra winnable upper house spot for the Nationals on the joint Coalition ticket for the 2015 election.

Under the usual Coalition agreement, the Nationals would expect to have three winnable spots on the joint upper house ticket.

An extra spot would go some way towards alleviating what is looking like a scramble for positions.

Two Nationals MPs are seeking re-election while Murray-Darling MP John Williams, whose seat has been abolished, and Nationals state director Ben Franklin are trying to move to the upper house.

The announcement that Ms Hodgkinson would contest Goulburn sparked tension with Ms Goward, who is the Minister for Community Services and has held Goulburn since 2007.

It has infuriated Ms Goward and the Liberals, who have warned a three-cornered contest would allow Labor to win the seat.

The decision to withdraw will be seen as a significant backdown by Ms Hodgkinson, who has loudly voiced her determination to run for Goulburn since announcing her intentions a fortnight ago.

If an agreement is reached, Ms Hodgkinson is likely to run in the new seat of Cootamundra.

The seat was created after an electoral boundary redistribution last year that renamed Ms Hodgkinson’s seat to create Cootamundra and a redrawn seat of Goulburn.

If Ms Hodgkinson runs in Cootamundra, Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, whose seat of Murrumbidgee has been abolished, is likely to contest the new seat of Murray.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Former asylum seeker jailed for helping others make the same journey

A former asylum seeker who came to Australia by boat 12 years ago has been sentenced to three years and six months jail for helping others make the same journey, with a judge finding he was partly motivated by financial gain.
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Fadhil Raghib Khana Zangan, 39, sat in the Downing Centre District Court with his head in his hands as Judge David Arnott sentenced him over six so-called “people smuggling” offences.

The court heard that the 39-year-old made the perilous journey to Ashmore Reef in 2001 after his family was deported from Iraq to Iran, and was eventually granted asylum-seeker status in Australia.

But between November 2011 and March 2012, he worked with four other men to “facilitate” the boat journeys of 10 asylum seekers from various countries in the Middle East to Australia on boats.

Judge Arnott said that the 39-year-old had played an “integral” role in the operation, arranging visas and accommodation for the asylum seekers – most of whom were his friends or distant relatives – and finding them places on boats travelling from Malaysia to Christmas Island.

During a sentencing submissions hearing earlier this month, Zangana said he had been motivated by “humanitarian and altruistic reasons”.

“He said it was because of his own experience of coming to Australia by boat and that he didn’t want them falling into the hands of crooked smugglers,” Judge Arnott said in his reasons for decision.

Zangana said that two of the people he helped – a mother and son – had had their home blown up by a suicide bomber, while another man was in danger because he had fought on the side of NATO forces during the Iraq war.

Judge Arnott found that Zangana had been partly motivated by altruism and took this into account as a mitigating factor.

However, he said that that the 39-year-old had also profited from his activities.

He referred to a number of deals in which Zangana appeared to personally receive thousands of dollars, and phone calls in which he repeatedly referred to his “customers”.

“I find that he acted from a combination of motives – both personal gain and altruism,” Judge Arnott said.

“His role was very integral to the operation … which necessarily involved putting lives at risk.”

His honour found that Zangana was a low risk of re-offending and had good prospects of rehabilitation. He also noted that the 39-year-old had suffered a significant personal tragedy, with his wife committing suicide in the family home in 2008.

He sentenced Zangana to a maximum sentence of five years and four months, with a minimum non-parole period of three years and six months.

With time served he will be eligible for release on April 19, 2016.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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