Is the Bali ocean sunfish tourism sustainable?

Researchers are diving deep to find out more about the ocean sunfish, the Jabba the Hutt of the fish world, that hang out on the reefs off Bali for just three months each year. They’ve become an intriguing tourist attraction for divers, but is this tourism sustainable?

The sunfish head to the reefs from July to October to seek out cleaner fish—such as longfin bannerfish and emperor angelfish— which help them remove skin parasites and clean up skin lesions.

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Manta rays munching on micro-plastics

More than a million tons of plastic are thought to enter Indonesia’s
oceans every year.

Much of it is in the form of micro-plastics, and that could be harming iconic oceanic filter feeders such as the manta ray.

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Could magnets stop us falling over?

Non-invasive brain stimulation using an applied magnetic field can strengthen brain connections that weaken as we age.

Perth researchers hope to use this technique to improve the quality of life and reduce the risk of falls and injuries in older people.

Past the age of about 60, there’s a weakening of the structural connections between the three different areas of the brain that control our decision-making processes, our ‘planning’ centres, and our fine-motor control.

It’s the connections between those areas that ultimately allow us to successfully interact with our environment, for example adjusting our foot placement when we step on uneven paving.

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Flying whale sharks

Short periods of flapping wings alternating with long, gliding descent helps birds preserve energy in flight. Now researchers have discovered that sharks and seals can use the same technique to glide through the ocean.

Adrian chasing down tags released from whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef. Credit: Steve Lindfield
Adrian chasing down tags released from Whale Sharks at the Ningaloo Reef. Credit: Steve Lindfield

Murdoch University’s Dr Adrian Gleiss led a team that attached accelerometers to whale sharks, white sharks, fur seals, and elephant seals.

They found that all four species performed the characteristic undulating flight of birds and bats, with periods of active, upwards propulsion alternating with slow, passive, gliding descents.

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Walking again

Children with a deadly muscle-wasting disease are regaining the ability to walk and potentially avoiding life-threatening complications, thanks to a new treatment developed by researchers at Perth’s Murdoch University.

Photo: Steve Wilton and Sue Fletcher’s drug therapy is helping children who suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy stay active. Credit: Murdoch University

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