Thursday, December 20, 2018

Mystery creatures that washed up around the world in 2018

Beachgoers across the world discovered stunning sea creatures this year — as strong currents and storms pushed them to the surface.
In the US state of Texas, a fish that typically swims in waters as deep as 365 metres (1,200 feet) was found lifeless on the sand in Corpus Christi.
New Zealand residents spotted a bright pink creature that turned out to be the largest species of jellyfish in the world during a family outing. And that’s just the beginning.
Photos and videos of various unique ocean finds were shared online, and (no surprise) quickly went viral. Some were considered local treasures, while others were studied and examined by marine experts to help them better understand rare species.
Here’s a look at some of the most puzzling sea creatures that washed up in 2018.
A giant hairy sea creature washed up in the Philippines in May, causing locals to flock to the San Antonio beach to snap pictures of the mysterious “blob” many dubbed a “globster.”
The carcass of the animal measured about 6 metres (20 feet) long, according to The Sun. A video of the massive greyish white creature posted to YouTube showed two men with ropes working together to pull the monster out of the water.
Nobody knows what this giant sea creature is
— The Sun (@TheSun) May 12, 2018
Fishery Law Enforcement Officer, Vox Krusada, told the newspaper that — based on the size and shape of the creature, and what marine experts observed — officials could confirm it was the body of a whale.
An odd-looking fish that lives on the ocean floor shocked Texas park rangers when it washed up on Padre Island National Seashore in Corpus Christi in June.
Photographer Edie Bresler was scanning the beach for hidden treasures when he spotted the big-eyed fish. With its bumpy skin and wide mouth, Bresler wasn’t exactly sure what he was looking at. So, he quickly took out his camera and started snapping.
“I have been beach combing all my life so to come across something strange like this was totally exciting,” Bresler explained in a Facebook post. “It got even better when I took the photographs to the park rangers and they were equally baffled.”
This weirdo turned out to be a thick-tailed batfish. Picture: Edie Bresler/Padre Island National Seashore

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Sunny Xmas Day forecast Australia-wide

A warm and dry Christmas Day is on the way aside from a few areas in the northern tropics where rain has been predicted.
A typical Aussie Christmas has been forecast for most of the country: hot and dry.
Fine conditions are predicted for all capital cities on Tuesday, except Darwin where there is a 60 per cent chance of rain and a possible thunderstorm, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
"We want people to get their Christmas prawns out of the way (in Darwin)," senior meteorologist Claire Yeo told AAP.
While temperatures are expected to reach 34C in Darwin, Adelaide is likely to be the hottest city with a maximum of 35C.
A high pressure system covering most of the country means the chance of rain is low and temperatures should be high.
Canberra will experience a top of 32C, Melbourne will reach 31C and Brisbane 29C with a 20 per cent chance of rain.
A light breeze is expected to pass through Sydney, where the bureau has forecast a low of 17C and high of 28C.
Despite the "beautiful" days ahead, Ms Yeo is warning people not to become complacent.
Christmas could mark the start of a low intensity heatwave inland, with temperatures increasing from the northwest coast of Western Australia extending down into the southeast, Ms Yeo said.
"When you have very hot temperatures bordering into that extreme and a lack of rainfall, it always leads to the potential of fire dangers increasing," she said.

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Trees are worth billions to Australia's economy — but how we value them is changing

How much is a tree worth?
In economic terms, your answer depends on how you value them.
Forestry exports contribute $3 billion to Australia's economy; its manufacturing, sales and service income make up around $24 billion per year.
Increasingly, agroforestry and carbon abatement initiatives also provide an economic benefit.
So while money might not grow on trees, they are becoming more profitable.

The money tree

Forestry makes up less than 1 per cent of Australia's economy, which is not an insubstantial figure at a regional level.
And forest scientist Rowan Reid says the branches of the tree economy spread wider than you may think.
"It's a matter of what the trees give you over their lifespan, which is biodiversity, erosion control... and shelter for livestock," says Mr Reid, who owns a tree farm in Victoria's Otway Ranges.
"It gives you those values as it's growing.
"At the end, you cut a tree down, you've got the value of the timber. That's the cherry on top."
Andrew Jacobs, from plantation-based forestry company Forico, says it's not possible to put a dollar value on a single tree.
"It depends how old the tree is, depends a bit on where it is," he says.
Forico operates 185,000 hectares of land in Tasmania; more than half of that is plantation forest.
Mr Jacobs says an individual tree can cost anywhere between $1.50 to $2 to plant, and much more in maintenance.
In return, softwood trees "range from $70 to $175 per green metric tonne at the mill door," he says, while hardwoods range from $100 to $140.

Are we valuing trees appropriately?

Peter Kanowski, a professor of forestry at the Australian National University, says we need to change the way we value trees to assess their full benefit.
Like Mr Reid, he says a tree's profitability is about more than the wood sales it generates; they deliver "a much wider range of ecosystem services".
This includes "carbon sequestration [and] water catchment values, depending on the tree's biodiversity".
"Our mechanisms for valuing those other than carbon are still pretty rudimentary," he says.
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Acoustic observatory to record Australian animals and habitats

Hundreds of audio recorders are about to be installed in regional Australia to create the country's first soundscape, which can give scientists important insights into different animals and their habitats.
A team of academics from 13 universities has been preparing all year the acoustic observatory that will be recording sound non-stop for years to come.
To the untrained ear, the recordings might sound like any day on a farm, but Paul McDonald, who researches animal behaviour, told The World Today they are rich in information.
"You might see things like when do the insects start calling, for example — so when do you see cicadas kicking in," Associate Professor McDonald said.
"And that might be important if that might be linked to say temperature or rainfall, for example, or habitat productivity.
Associate Professor McDonald said having the ability to compress 24 hours worth of audio data into one image was helpful in allowing scientists to asses and tease apart the information represented.
"[It's] really quite stunning the first time you see it, and it opens up so many doors about how we can actually use these big picture data sets that are monitoring the whole country at the same time," he said.

Tyranny of distance

But installing the audio soundscape has not been without its challenges for the academics involved in the task.
"It's a big project — we're talking about 300 or 400 sensors that we are going to be deploying, and it's quite challenging logistically," Associate Professor McDonald said.
"These sensors need to go in areas where we may only visit them once a year, and we need to make sure that they're working when we're not there checking them."
The recordings will also be available online to anyone who wants to access them, allowing academics to listen to their chosen species from the comfort of their offices.
"The good thing about sound is you're not making decisions beforehand of what's interesting, Associate Professor McDonald said.
"So we're able to record all the audio, and if someone wants to look at a particular file for what frogs are doing they can.
"Someone else might want to look at the same file and see what the birds are doing, for example."
Lin Schwarzkopf, a professor of biology in Townsville, has been taking a specific interest in frog sounds.
"Before we had recordings, people went out into the field and listened to frogs, and learned which frogs made which sounds," she said.
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Sunday, December 16, 2018

The 2018 Square Australian Coffee Report

The 2018 Square Australian Coffee Report

Serving the perfect cup of coffee is big business in Australia, and there is plenty of competition to prove it. Whether your favourite morning beverage is served at the local neighbourhood cafe, in a converted warehouse, by one of the corporate coffee giants, or grabbed from the growing number of drive-through vendors, Australia has one of the most saturated coffee markets on the globe.
We’re big fans of the espresso here at Square, that’s why we’re giving you a sneak peek into the $8 billion industry that none of us could live without with our third annual Square Australian Coffee Report. It’s an analysis of the millions of cups of coffee sold at thousands of Square powered cafes and coffee bars across the country to help you learn more about how Australians consumed their favourite coffee beverages in 2018.
coffee consumption australia infographic

Coffee pricing in Australia

The 2018 Square Australian Coffee Report shows us that customer demand and price sensitivity can vary dramatically by state, as seen by coffee drinkers in the Northern Territory (NT) who spend on average $1 more on their beverages than consumers in New South Wales (NSW).
Prices across the board were up only a few cents from 2017, with Aussies still spending more on the sweeter flavours of mocha and chai. The cheapest coffee in each Australian state is still the traditional long black — the only coffee that consumers fork out less than $4 for.

Is coffee going cashless?

Interestingly, despite the low price tag for coffee, Square’s data revealed that the majority of consumers (54%) chose to pay with card over cash (46%) when it came to purchasing their coffee beverages this year.  
With Australia’s increasingly cashless society leaving no industry untouched, a state-by-state breakdown of the data showed that while most states followed the national trend, coffee-buyers in NT and South Australia (SA) were even more likely to pay by card, 69% and 68% respectively. Meanwhile, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) was the only outlier region that preferred cash, with only 36% of people there opting to pay by card for their coffee.
While the latte is still the best-seller across the country, its popularity has actually dropped over recent years, with total cups sold decreasing from 43% to 32% since 2016. Flat whites have remained steady this year but the time-honoured cappuccino has made a resurgence, with sales jumping from 12% to 19% over the same period.
State-by-state data also showed the cappuccino overtaking the flat white as the preferred coffee in NSW this year.
The popularity of flavour-infused brews hasn’t slowed in 2018. Year-on-year growth showed matcha-infused coffee sales were up 80% and chai sales remained strong, up 70% from October 2017. Chai was again the most popular order when it came to the popularity of tea, followed closely by matcha, English breakfast and earl grey.
We also saw more non-dairy milk alternatives added to menus this year. While soy remained the most popular choice, nut-based alternatives are gaining momentum with almond, coconut, macadamia and cashew milk rounding out the top five picks for Aussies.
coffee shop australia

All day, everyday

It turns out caffeine isn’t just a morning necessity with sales of our favourite drinks peaking at different times through the day. The morning rush saw the stronger lattes, flat whites and cappuccinos hit their peak at 9am, while tea picked up at 10am and then saw another lunchtime spike at 1pm.
Our favourite flavoured brews, chai and matcha, also saw later surges, with chai sales hitting their sales peak at 11am and matcha at around 3pm.

The power of data

This report was pulled together using Square Dashboard, with data collected and analysed from the millions of cups of coffee sold on the Square platform at hundreds of cafes and coffee bars across the country. Data insights are extremely valuable to help business owners make smarter, more informed decisions about how to run their businesses.
Square Point of Sale is a free and powerful reporting toolkit available to every Square seller to access their sales data in real time. Sellers can instantly access information that tells them what products are selling the best, the average transaction size per customer, the frequency of customers, sales per employee and how other locations may be tracking.
So, whether you’re opening a coffee shop or starting your first business, Square is a great solution to help you keep track of the numbers.
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Top 5 Best Places To Visit In Australia | Tips To Travel Australia | Visit Australia

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DAY 1: VISITING AUSTRALIA (Flight experience, travel information and tips)

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