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whales.jpg[Photography: David Reilly, ABC]

Rescuers have shifted 12 stranded pilot whales to a different beach in north-west Tasmania in an attempt to get them back to sea.

The 12 surviving long-finned whales were part of a maternal pod of 65 mothers and calves which was discovered yesterday stranded at Anthony’s Beach.

Fifty-three of the whales died when the pod became beached.

UPDATE: Eleven whales have been returned to the open ocean.

Rescuers have been working since early yesterday to save the long-finned pilot whales, the only survivors from a pod of 65 that became beached near Stanley.

It is hoped the group will be able to rejoin another migratory pod.

Parks and Wildlife Services manager Chris Arthur says 12 whales, up to three metres long, were transported 17 kilometres along the Bass Highway on trucks equipped for the purpose to deep water at Godfreys Beach.

Shares in Tasmanian timber company Gunns have plunged more than 15 per cent in early trade today despite a general rise in the stock market. This morning the company’s shares were down 17 cents to just 88 cents.

Yesterday former Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon conceded Gunns’ proposed $2 billion pulp mill appears to have been shelved. Mr Lennon told a parliamentary committee the project “may not be alive”.

UPDATE: November 21, they’re down to 75 cents.

UPDATE: November 24, now 64 cents …

Lonely Planet, a leading destinations authority has named Tasmania’s Bay of Fires as the best destination for 2009.

To be released in November of this year, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2009 features 850 of the world’s hottest travel trends and experiences, and emerging destinations.

Rated number one in the guidebook‘s ’10 Must-See Regions for 2009′, Tasmania’s Bay of Fires is recognised as a secret, untapped holiday destination.

Listed ahead of France and Spain’s beautiful Basque Country and Chile’s ancient Chiloe, the Bay of Fires is praised for its picturesque and pristine landscapes, its cute cottages, its guided hikes and its sensational suppers. 

“White beaches of hourglass-fine sand, Bombay Sapphire sea, an azure sky — and nobody. This is the secret edge of Tasmania, laid out like a pirate’s treasure map of perfect beach after sheltered cove, all fringed with forest, ” the bible of hot destinations for 2009 says. 

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A Trichopeltarion crab

A Trichopeltarion crab

Scientists have found 274 new species of corals, starfish, sponges, shrimps, and crabs two kilometres beneath the surface of the ocean around Antarctica.

“We know very little about the deep sea,” said lead scientist Nic Bax, a marine biologist with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Hobart, Tasmania.

“Finding out how much live coral is down there, and how large those communities are, is very exciting,” he added.

<em>A new species of sea star, or starfish</em>

A new species of sea star, or starfish

Some of the corals were found to be about 2,000 years old, said Bax.

CSIRO made the discoveries in two separate voyages to marine reserves located 100 to 200 nautical miles off the southern coast of the island of Tasmania, Australia.

Using powerful cameras, scientists shot 8,000 pictures and more than 100 hours of video footage of the seafloor.

They also discovered 145 undersea canyons and 80 new seamounts, or underwater mountains.

<em>A new species of Ophiomitrella brittle star</em>

A new species of Ophiomitrella brittle star

<em>New species of Plesionika shrimp found at depth of 2km</em>

New species of Plesionika shrimp found at depth of 2km

whale.jpg

A southern right whale has thrilled cruise passengers by taking a leisurely break in the River Derwent off Sandy Bay.

The whale was spotted cavorting off Bellerive early in the week and spent most of yesterday in the waters between Maning Reef and Wrest Point Casino.

“We caught a glimpse of it just off the casino … it just rolled over a bit,” Peppermint Bay Cruise guide Ben Brown said.

“We had quite a few international tourists and a good number from the mainland, so it was pretty exciting.”

He said the tourists were surprised to see a whale so far up the river.

[Via The Mercury]

abalone.jpg

The world’s biggest wild abalone fishery, which accounts for 25 percent of the global annual harvest, may be under threat from a destructive virus.

The ganglioneuritis virus has been detected in two abalone from waters off Tasmania and tests are under way to determine the extent of the threat.

The virus has already devastated the abalone industry in nearby Victorian waters.

gunns.jpgThe proposed mill

Timber company Gunns has admitted for the first time its planned Tamar Valley pulp mill may never be built.

The troubled company announced its annual results on the Australian Stock Exchange on August 28, reporting a net profit after tax of $64.5m for the 2008 financial year.

That represents a drop of about 27 per cent on last year’s result.

The result is also lower than a recent downgraded profit forecast of $67m.

Gunns statement says it is still pursuing finance for its planned $2b pulp mill, but has for the first time admitted it may never be built.

Shares in the company recently slumped by 25 per cent in three days and its price closed at $1.67 before a trading halt was announced last week.

[from ABC News]

Princess Mary

Our man on the spot, Paul County, captured a winning smile from Tasmania’s own ‘royalty’ when Princess Mary took her children for a stroll through town.

Missing in action was Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, who was probably still in recovery mode after a wild last night in Beijing, dancing and drinking at a nightclub where the theme was Hugh Hefner’s raunchy magazine and mansion.

A few days later, and Mt Wellington glows in a clear sky. Squatting stoutly in the path of the Roaring Forties ‘our mountain’ provides a constantly changing tapestry of colour and texture.

mountain-snow.jpgFalling snow at noon today hides Mt Wellington

Much of southern Tasmania is isolated this morning after wintry conditions forced road closures around the state.

The Midlands Highway was closed after three accidents involving double-B trucks.

Hobart’s Southern Outlet also iced up and roads further south were also closed to traffic.

West Coast roads are also closed indefinitely.

ice.jpg