Daily Archives: December 21, 2015

Australia:Saltwater crocodile travels more than 400 kilometres in 20 days


Massive homesick saltwater crocodile travels more than 400 kilometres in an epic 20 day trek to return to his original river after he was relocated.

A saltwater crocodile trekked more than 400km in less than 20 days to return home after being relocated to the shock of researchers.

Professor Craig Franklin with the University of Queensland’s school of biological sciences moved three problem saltwater crocodiles to far north Queensland several years ago and were surprised when one turned right back around and came home, according to The Brisbane Times.

The journey from Cape York back south to its original habitat of Wenlock River in the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve destroyed Professor Franklin’s notion that saltwater crocs that pose as a threat to livestock and humans could be shifted north.

The test also proved for the first time that crocodiles use the currents of the water to help them travel, Professor Franklin said.

‘If they are travelling long distances in river systems they will use tidal movement in and out of the river to facilitate,’ he said.

The 350kg croc that was moved to the east coast of Cape York, the northern most part of the state, was four-and-a-half metres long.

Because the results proved the migration north wouldn’t be possible, Professor Franklin and his team began tagging 130 crocodiles beginning in 2008 to follow their movements in the longest tracking survey done on crocs ever, the academic said.

‘These days in the age of climate change what we want is long-term data that goes over multiple years and that way you can see the patterns that emerge and the animals behaviour and movements,’ Professor Franklin said.

By learning more about them, the public can be educated on how to peacefully coexist in the same areas as the crocodiles, he said.

‘We can inform people how to behave around crocodiles and then how to reduce those negative interactions, which is good for humans and good for crocodiles.’




Newcastle:Williamtown RAAF Base contamination prompts Grahamstown Dam testing


THE Hunter’s main drinking water source is being tested for contamination from the Williamtown RAAF Base.

The Newcastle Herald can reveal Hunter Water has begun testing Grahamstown Dam for traces of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA).

They are the same emerging contaminants found in ground water on properties at Salt Ash and Williamtown, as well as in the Hunter River, since the Department of Defence admitted the chemicals had leaked off the base.

The dam supplies about 40 per cent of the lower Hunter’s drinking water, and is the region’s largest water supply.

Hunter Water has been testing pump stations inside the Tomago Sandbeds since 2012 when Defence first admitted they had contamination inside the airbase, and in November the Herald reported three bores had been shutdown indefinitely, potentially costing tens of millions of dollars and about 1.5 billion litres of water annually.

Now, due to what it says is “mounting public concern about the safety of drinking water”, the region’s water authority has begun testing for PFOS and PFOA at its six water treatment stations.

Hunter Water’s interim chief executive officer, Jeremy Bath, insisted it would be “physically impossible” for Grahamstown Dam to be contaminated “given the direction of the ground water movement”, but said the testing was being done decided “to promote the results as a means of ensuring the community retain confidence in the safety of our water”.

“We know the movement of the ground water and that is south to south-east, Grahamstown Dam is north to north-west from the RAAF Base,” he said.
“It would be like water running up hill.”

But Mr Bath admitted there were no physical barriers around the dam that would stop groundwater leeching in.

“It’s not like a giant swimming pool,” he said. “But, people think that what’s in Grahamstown Dam is what they’re drinking, that’s not true, it’s why the water treatment process is so important.”

Hunter Water representatives will also speak to the Senate committee hearing investigating the spread of the contaminants from the base when it meets in Newcastle on Tuesday.


Residents on alert near Newcastle after fires breached containment lines


Firefighters are working to contain a blaze north of Newcastle that had the potential to threaten homes on Sunday afternoon, as temperatures soared above 37 degrees.

The Rural Fire Service issued a “watch and act” notice about 3pm on Sunday for people with homes along Nelson Bay Road between Medowie and Richardson roads. This was downgraded to “advice” level later in the afternoon after weather conditions eased slightly, the RFS said.

The blaze had burnt through 350 hectares of land near Williamtown Airport and was now heading in a southerly direction towards Nelson Bay Road.

RFS spokesman Paul Best said 72 firefighters and two aircraft were attending to the fire, which had spotted embers past containment lines in Williamtown. Units were positioned to extinguish the blaze before it reached property, he said.

“Earlier today the fire breached containment lines and it’s moving towards property on Nelson Bay Road,” Mr Best said.

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“There is no property under direct threat as there are a number of firefighting units on the scene there and they are waiting for that fire to come out so they can extinguish it.”

Nelson Bay Road was closed between Richardson Road and Cabbage Tree Road, although police were allowing travellers through to Newcastle Airport. Medowie Road was also closed due to smoke, the RFS said.

Nelson Bay is a popular summer vacation spot and temperatures in the area reached 37.4 degrees just after 2pm on Sunday.

It came as out-of-control bushfires were threatening homes near Wodonga in Victoria, just south of the NSW border, and at Scotsburn near Ballarat.

The Wodonga blaze was becoming more complex, with a cool change poised to bring a potentially dangerous shift in winds, firefighters said.

On Saturday, 20 people were taken to hospital as a heatwave sent temperatures skyrocketing to 41.2 degrees in Melbourne and 44.4 degrees in Geelong.

Meanwhile in NSW, another fire breached containment lines in remote bushland near Thredbo. The Granuaille Mountain blaze, in the Kosciuszko National Park, has been burning since Wednesday and on Sunday morning breached a retardant containment line that was constructed late on Saturday.

The RFS said the nearby Alpine Way would be closed from midday on Sunday between Dead Horse Gap and Khancoban, blocking the road west of Thredbo. The resort was expected to remain open.

Mr Best said the fire posed no threat to people or property at this stage, but was still of concern to firefighters.

“Any fire that’s burning today is of concern with the hot and windy conditions that we’re experiencing right around NSW,” he said.

The Tom Groggin and Geehi camp grounds were closed, and visitors were asked to leave as a precaution, Mr Best said.


Barcelona 3-0 River Plate: World Club champions


A goal from Lionel Messi and a double from Luis Suárez helped Barcelona to beat River Plate 3-0 in Yokohama and win the Club World Cup, the club’s fifth trophy of 2015.

Messi opened the scoring 10 minutes before the end of a difficult first half for Barcelona, who were tested by River’s intensity, but the European champions struck again early in the second period through Suárez and the Uruguayan sealed their third world title by heading home a cross from Neymar.

Barcelona become the first team to win the trophy three times, surpassing the two titles won by Corinthians, while Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique are now the only players to collect three winners’ medals.

This was the perfect way for Barça to end an excellent year in which they had already collected the league title, Champions League, Copa del Rey and Uefa Super Cup, with the only trophy they failed to win being the Spanish Super Cup.

The River manager, Marcelo Gallardo, admitted his side would have to play “a perfect game on every level” if they were to win, adding “Barcelona have the best players, but we have huge hearts”.

The Argentinian club, who qualified for the tournament by winning the Copa Libertadores, brought 16,000 fans from Buenos Aires to Tokyo. On Saturday an estimated 10,000 supporters attended a mass rally in Yoyogi park, creating a carnival atmosphere in the city but when it came to Sunday’s game Barcelona made their quality show.

Neymar and Messi were back in the starting lineup after missing the semi-final win over Guangzhou Evergrande, the Brazilian recovering from a groin strain while the Argentinian had overcome abdominal pains.

Their returns allowed Luis Enrique to field the same team as in the Champions League final against Juventus, with the exception of Claudio Bravo starting in goal over Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Gallardo made only one change to the team who beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0, bringing in Tabare Viudez for Leonardo Pisculichi.

River’s tactics were to press Barça high up the pitch to disrupt their passing game and stifle creation. It worked for a large part of the first half, even if they had to resort to frequent tactical fouling.

In spite of the shackles imposed on them, Barça created a couple of openings. Messi took down a ball from Iniesta superbly to half-volley at Marcelo Barovero, and a tame shot from Alves following a Neymar cross from the left, which the goalkeeper also gathered. River’s few chances came from set pieces and distance shots from Rodrigo Mora and Lucas Alario, both which went straight at Bravo.

Messi also tried a free-kick which Barovero tipped around the post but it would not be long before the striker found a way through.

Jordi Alba won the ball back in River’s half and Barça broke quickly, Messi playing in Alves, who floated a ball into the area from the right and Neymar rose to head it down towards Messi, who controlled it before hooking a right-footed shot just beyond the reach of Barovero. The Barcelona substitutes raced out of the dugout to join Luis Enrique’s wild celebrations, such was the importance of the goal, but replays showed Messi may have controlled the ball with his right hand before shooting.

The goal sapped River’s confidence and Barça could have scored again before the break, Messi releasing Suárez with a curled pass from the right wing, but the Uruguayan fired the wrong side of the near post.

Gallardo made a double substitution at half-time, bringing on Lucho González and Gonzalo Martínez for the booked Leonardo Ponzio and ineffective Mora. But the new players were on the pitch for only four minutes before Barça struck again. This time the high press was River’s undoing, as Busquets spotted a gap in the defensive line and Suárez ran into it, controlling and sliding the ball under the legs of Barovero.

Barça pushed for a third goal and, although Messi squandered a chance to add to his earlier effort, Suárez took his opportunity to do the same, glancing Neymar’s cross into the far corner. The Uruguayan took the prize for the tournament’s top scorer, his double adding to his hat-trick against Guangzhou.


Liverpool thrashed 3-0 by Watford


Two goals from Odion Ighalo helped to give Watford an impressive 3-0 win over Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Sunday, their fourth consecutive Barclays Premier League triumph.

A mistake from Adam Bogdan, who was replacing the injured Simon Mignolet in Liverpool’s goal, allowed Nathan Ake to score the opener. Ighalo, who took his Barclays Premier League goals tally to 12 this season, netted shortly after with a neat finish before sealing the victory with a header five minutes from time.

The win puts Watford within a point of Tottenham Hotspur in fourth, while Liverpool remain ninth and have won only three of nine league matches since Jurgen Klopp took charge.

Liverpool made four alterations to their team as Bogdan, Roberto Firmino, Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho came in for injured Dejan Lovren, Mignolet and James Milner, while Christian Benteke dropped to the bench.

Watford, who were unchanged, made a dream start in the third minute. Bogdan dropped Ben Watson’s corner, allowing Ake to tap home from a yard as referee Mark Clattenburg ignored the goalkeeper’s claims that he had regained control before the defender struck.

Philippe Coutinho had a shot saved by Heurelho Gomes as Liverpool sought an equaliser, but it was the hosts who scored next, after 15 minutes.

Troy Deeney chipped a pass forward and Ighalo outmuscled Martin Skrtel to race on to the bouncing ball and divert an accurate finish in off the far post.

Bogdan almost made another mistake when a misunderstanding resulted in him punching the ball against Lucas, with Skrtel having to make a frantic clearance.

Liverpool’s first half got worse when Skrtel limped off injured as Divock Origi came on to replace him in a tactical switch from Klopp.

The Reds looked fired up after the break and Origi shot straight at Gomes, but it was almost game over when Jurado played a pass through to Ighalo and Sakho slipped to allow him through on goal. But Bogdan made the save.

At the other end, Jordan Henderson forced his way past Ake and struck powerfully towards goal, but Gomes made an important one-handed stop to preserve Watford’s two-goal advantage.

Emre Can had a long-range effort beaten away by Gomes, but there was to be no recovery for the visitors.

Ighalo sealed the victory with a firm header after a free-flowing counter-attack had led to substitute Valon Behrami’s cross from the right finding the striker as Liverpool’s disappointing run of form continued.

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores: “We have a lot of matches and we never underestimate the teams we play. We are completely happy with the performance. It was an amazing victory against an amazing team.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “We made many more wrong decisions today. Our reaction was really bad. With the wind and not the best pitch, we were playing in small spaces. We were playing the way they want and they closed us down. The start to the second half was very good, but we didn’t score, and then their third goal – game over.”