Over 300 Western Australian sharks are now on twitter

The Surf Life Saving Western Australia (SLSWA) is using their Twitter feed to put a new, internet-savvy spin on wildlife conservation. The project uses radio transmitter tags on sharks combined with proximity monitors to report on shark movement near human-populated beaches.

A tagged shark within a certain radius of the monitor triggers a tweet informing beachgoers, helping to improve safety for both man and marine beast.

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Image courtesy of Allan Lee via flickrcc

Currently, 338 sharks have been tagged with radio transmitters including a significant number of the more dangerous tiger shark and great white shark species. The tweet states the breed and estimated size of the shark along with an approximate location. The Twitter also broadcasts shark alerts reported from other sources, such as helicopter sightings.

The system is reported to be much faster than traditional radio warnings, and allows lifeguards to shut down beaches in a timely manner with a minimum of panic and disruption.

As a bonus, the Twitter occasionally posts raw images of sharks and other marine wildlife in their natural environment off the Western Australian coast.

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Freedom Ship floating city project may be back on track

Most of us take living on dry land as a fact of life, but the Freedom Ship International project is looking to change that.

A revived project from the 90’s, the goal is to create an ocean-faring platform that can serve as a permanent residence for 50,000 people complete with shopping centers, schools, hospitals and anything else an urban center might require.

It’s audacious enough to draw an immediate combination of both skepticism and awe, but project lead Roger Gooch believes that the project is definitely feasible. “In the last six months we’re getting more interest in the project and we are hopeful we will raise the $1 billion to begin construction.” says Gooch.

The Freedom Ship designs expect it to be a mile long and 25 stories high, capable of housing 30,000 daily visitors, 20,000 crew and 10,000 overnight passengers in addition to the 50,000 permanent residents.

Concept designs feature an airport on the roof to transport individuals and supplies, as the ship would be far too large to enter a port. You can check out more concepts of the ship at the website here.

Vast freshwater reserves found under the ocean

As current sources of drinkable water dwindle, scientist may have found the answer under the ocean of all places. “The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s sub-surface in the past century since 1900,” says Vincent Post, the Australian groundwater expert and lead on the project.

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Image courtesy of Ken Hodge via flickr cc

The report estimates 500,000 cubic kilometers of low salinity water buried under various seabeds around the world that could be reached using platforms that are similar to offshore oil rigs that are used today. The water is not immediately drinkable, but much easier to desalinate than salt water and comparable dry land basins have been used in the past.

Challenges include setting up drilling operations, which would incur a large initial cost, and using the water effectively. “We should use them carefully: once gone, they won’t be replenished until the sea level drops again, which is not likely to happen for a very long time,” warns Post. Overuse or contamination of these reserves would result in a major loss of resources that we may literally need to survive.