High Hazard

WA’s shark mitigation strategy is based on sophisticated science – so its hunt-to-kill policy for sharks that are “a serious threat” remains controversial.

Aftermath of a shark bite at Mandurah, WA.

Late in the spring of 2000, businessman and father Ken Crew had his leg torn off by a great white shark in shallow water metres off Perth’s Cottesloe Beach.

Another swimmer dragged Crew from the water, in full view of bystanders and Crew’s wife, but he bled to death on the sand.

“Making matters even worse was the water was full of blood and the shark, for whatever reason, stays there and circles,” says researcher Christopher Neff. “It’s breaking news in every home; everyone is screaming, ‘Kill the shark!’

“The government, after a long and unfortunate delay trying to contact the minister for permission, while the public is freaking out, then fishes – without success – for the shark, which is long gone.”

There have been 55 incidents of unprovoked shark bites in WA since the start of 2000, according to the Global Shark Attack File – 14 of them fatal. But Crew’s death, forming a cluster with the deaths of surfers Cameron Bayes and Jevan Wright off South Australia in the same year, was a tipping point for Western Australia, says Dr Neff, a public policy researcher at the University of Sydney whose professional life has revolved around examining people’s – and governments’ – responses to shark bites.

Read more in an interactive feature at WAtoday

Advertisements

‘Disastrous’ planning approval to wipe out meat-eating rainbow plant: scientists

Byblis gigantea, the rainbow plant, at Alison Baird Reserve. Photo: Hans Lambers.

Byblis gigantea, the rainbow plant, at Alison Baird Reserve. Photo: Hans Lambers.

One of four remaining populations of the carnivorous “rainbow plant”, unique to Perth, could be wiped out after a planning approvals process WA’s most prominent scientists have called “disastrous” and “seriously flawed”.

Read more at WAtoday.

WA creates first oceanic marine park without a sanctuary zone

A snubfin snapped by Dr Deb Thiele, one of the scientists who has campaigned for a sanctuary zone in the marine park.  Photo: Dr Deb Thiele

A snubfin snapped by Dr Deb Thiele, one of the scientists who has campaigned for a sanctuary zone in the marine park. Photo: Dr Deb Thiele

WA has just had its newest marine park created – but also the first oceanic marine park not to contain a sanctuary zone, despite the pleas of experts to include one.

Read more at WAtoday.

Perth’s urban sprawl threatens endangered banksia woodlands

Banksia at Bold Park, one of the areas of remnant woodland.  Photo: Rob Davis

Banksia at Bold Park, one of the areas of remnant woodland. Photo: Rob Davis

The banksia woodlands of Perth’s Swan Coastal Plain have just been declared endangered by the federal government – but they’re right on top of some prime development land.

Read more at WAtoday.

Government approves wetland bulldozing based on environmental study of wrong lot

While the development is planned for both Carters and Skipper's, the environmental study was done on Skippers, a bare patch of earth.

While the development is planned for both Carters and Skipper’s, the environmental study was done on Skippers, a bare patch of earth.

Approvals for a controversial development at an ecologically significant site in Bayswater were based on incomplete environmental assessments, documents have revealed.

Read more at WAtoday.

Mt Lawley ‘church steeple’ tree felled for private development

A local's hopeless protest.  Photo: Supplied

A local’s hopeless protest. Photo: Supplied

A towering Mt Lawley tree described by the local heritage society as a ‘church steeple’ in the landscape has got the chop, as its trunk grew slightly over the council boundary and on to a private development site.

Read more at WAtoday.

 

‘Blinding lasers in rock wallabies’ faces!’ scientist urges tourist boycott

 

Mr Carter wants the event shifted - if not, boycotted.  Photo: Mark Carter

“Rock wallabies have young in their pouches and some are carrying embryos. It is well known that if these animals get distressed they can eject joeys from the pouch and the risk of death for those is high.” Photo: Mark Carter

 

A tourist show shooting industrial-strength laser beams into a stretch of cliffs in the Northern Territory is an act of animal cruelty that will inflict distress, and potentially physical damage, on endangered wallabies, a local scientist says.

Read more at WAtoday.