Tag Archives: pollution

Robo reef protector

A fleet of autonomous robots is being developed by Queensland scientists to kill crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), and monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Matthew Dunbabin and Dr Feras Dayoub of QUT are working with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to create the RangerBot, following successful field trials of QUT’s COTSBot in 2016.

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Microplastic is unfantastic

Miniscule plastic particles with the potential to cause havoc in our waterways and oceans have been found in the stomachs of over a quarter of fish sampled in Sydney Harbour.

Named microplastics, the tiny plastic fragments, beads and fibres are sometimes made directly as beads, and sometimes created by the break-down of plastics used in clothing, packaging, fishing gear, nappies and wipes.

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Live streaming for healthy waterways

Water sampling devices are keeping watch around the clock for toxic discharges into Melbourne’s creeks and stormwater drains, thanks to Victorian researchers at the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM), based at the University of Melbourne.

Victorian researchers are developing real-time sensors of water quality. Credit: iStockphoto

And, they are also developing a new range of aquatic critter-containing sensors.

The Autonomous Live Animal Response Monitors (ALARM) will house live molluscs, insects or shrimps and transmit images and data to scientists via the web, in the ultimate test of a creek’s health. Continue reading Live streaming for healthy waterways

Plastic not fantastic for seabirds

Seabirds on one of Australia’s remotest islands have plastic in their stomachs.

Plastic not fantastic for seabirds
A flesh-footed shearwater surveys the contents of its stomach Credit: Ian Hutton

A recent survey found more than 95 per cent of the migratory flesh-footed shearwaters nesting on Lord Howe Island, between Australia and the northern tip of New Zealand, had swallowed plastic garbage.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, plastic has been shown to bind poisonous pollutants. As a result, some shearwaters were found with concentrations of mercury more than 7,000 times the level considered toxic.

Only six of more than 200 nests visited contained chicks. The overall population is plummeting.
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Measuring mercury with a Midas touch

Nano-gold spikes magnified 200,000 times. Credit: RMIT
Nano-gold spikes magnified 200,000 times. Credit: RMIT

RMIT University researchers have used nanotechnology to create a pioneering sensor that can precisely measure one of the world’s most poisonous substances—mercury.

The mercury sensor developed by RMIT’s Industrial Chemistry Group uses tiny flecks of gold that are nano-engineered to make them irresistible to mercury molecules.

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