All’s not well in Oz…

A colleague, friend, and former roommate of mine took a post doc position over in Australia around this time last year, doing harmful algal research.  He recently sent me this video:

flooding in australia

It’s pretty wild.  And to think, people here on the east coast are complaining because their streets weren’t plowed fast enough! Imagine these rapidly moving flood waters racing down your street? Absolutely nuts.  It has claimed lives and caused considerable devastation.  Obviously, due to the harsh weather we have been receiving here, we haven’t heard all that much about the flooding.  You can read about some of it here, here, here, and here.  My friend Tim even blogged about it.  Google it too, theres plenty of info about it out there.

An interesting article I came across piqued my interest – the flooding has supposedly given bull sharks access to the town streets, and a couple have been spotted swimming around.   Could you imagine? I mean wow! I find that both exciting and petrifying.  On one hand, it just speaks to the incredible adaptive ability of bull sharks.  On the other hand, they are often considered among the most aggressive sharks in the world, and you wouldn’t expect to see them wading through floodwaters in the middle of you town.  Many of you are probably thinking how impossible that must be.  But bull sharks are tolerant of fresher waters, and in some parts of the world, are found venturing up rivers!  They are extremely tolerant of wide-ranging salinities via unique osmoregulation abilities.  In fact, these sharks are often found in rivers, even in the US, like Alabama and the Potomac River.   It is also thought that a bull shark is responsible for the Matawan creek attacks in 1916, an event originally attributed to a white shark and the inspiration for the movie Jaws.

Maybe Chuck over at Ya Like Dags or David over at Southern Fried Science might have some more insight into the reasons bull sharks are so freshwater tolerant.  But I thought it was interesting and worthy of mention.

Edit- Shark biologist Lyndell Bade informed me that bull sharks can be found up the Mississippi all the way to St Louis and can live in Lake Nicaragua.  These are quite amazing fish.

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