Sharks and forests

No, sharks don’t live in forests: I have two quick stories today, just sharing a couple of recent good-news stories associated with some really nice photos and videos.

First, forests: a 30-year feud between loggers and green groups in Tasmania ended late last month with a deal between the parties. More than 500,000 hectares of native Tasmanian forest will be protected from logging, while about 140,000 cubic metres of sawlogs will be made available to the timber industry. The agreement doesn’t give any group everything they wanted (which suggests to me that it was probably as fair a balance as we could hope for) but the mere fact that we have an agreement is worth something.

But the main reason I wanted to mention it here is that the Wilderness Society, who have been working for the protection of Tasmania’s wild forests for many years put together this amazing slideshow of the forests which will be saved. Do take a look – it’s beautiful.

Closer to home, sharks made a rare – possibly unique – appearance in a feel-good story on the front page of our local paper which was picked up by the ABC and presented on ABC Queensland news.

The sharks were Leopard Sharks from our Reef HQ Aquarium, so I covered the story, too, in the aquarium volunteers’ newsletter and can share photos with you here as well.

Aquarist Hamish with friend
Aquarist Hamish with friend, as seen in our newspaper
one shark biting another on the fin
Standard leopard shark courting behaviour. Most of us wouldn’t like a love bite like this!

For a little more on Leopard Sharks’ courtship, and its relation to our own, click here for my previous story on the subject.

Cuddlefish

We don’t usually think of sharks amongst the natural world’s great lovers but perhaps we’re being unfair.

Leopard sharks
Love bites: Leopard sharks in Reef HQ

I have been a volunteer at Reef HQ Aquarium for a couple of years now, and I have gradually been getting into the habit of taking my camera in with me. A little while ago I spotted the female Leopard shark, Leonie, lying back in what looks like bliss while the male, Leo, nibbled her fins amorously.

It is typical courtship behaviour for the species (and it must work well for this couple because they have produced several offspring for Reef HQ) but I do find the parallels with human behaviour amusing and thought-provoking. One recent thought is that we usually say ‘how like people’ animals are when they behave like we do, but that way of putting it is really back to front: people evolved from lower animals, not the other way round, so it’s very likely some of our behaviour patterns, as well as our genes, are inherited from them.

So next time you spot a couple of teenagers kissing and cuddling you might think, ‘How like sharks they are!’

P.S. Crocs do it too: I didn’t know how romantic crocodiles were until I came across this description recently.