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Dogs mark territory at Swell sculpture festival

All photos except for the Swell Festival Facebook screensave at the bottom ©Mic Smith













Click on the photo from Swell's Facebook page to check out more about what's going on

Click on the photo from Swell’s Facebook page to check out more about what’s going on


Newsvalues in broadcast journalism: ABC Gold Coast Journo Tom Forbes

Chinese national jailed 10 years for ivory

A South African court has given a Chinese National the longest sentence ever in the country for possession of ivory.
Cheng Jie Liang, who has lived in South Africa since 2003, received a 10 year sentence with three years suspended if he pays his fine for possession of one ton of poached elephant tusks that he had in a storage unit.
It was alleged that he was high up in a smuggling ring.
The Cape Times reported:
“In passing sentence, Magistrate Johan Venter questioned why Liang had come to South Africa.

“Immediately after he had arrived in 2003 he had been convicted of illegal abalone possession.

“And here you stand before court again and are found to be part of a syndicate… It is still a mystery where you get your income and where it is paid. Why this mystery? The question arises, is it not perhaps from the syndicate, that is why it is not disclosed?” Venter said.

“He referred to judgements which said the personal interests of the accused should not prevail above those of the public. Sentences should be a deterrent, so potential poachers and smugglers would know they were be prosecuted and properly sentenced.”


The newsman and the whale name

The heavily scarred back of a miraculous survivor of a shipstrike in NSW in 2001 belongs to a female humpback named Bladerunner. Photo courtesy of Cat Balou Cruises, Eden. NSW, October 2013.

The heavily scarred back of a survivor of a shipstrike in NSW in 2001 belongs to a female humpback named Bladerunner. Photo courtesy of Cat Balou Cruises, Eden. NSW, October 2013.

She has been named Bladerunner for so long that people have forgotten where the name came from.

I would have put my money on the name being coined by a fisherman or a whale watching outfit or some old salt but I would have been very wrong.

She was given that name by someone who never even saw her in the ocean, someone sitting at a desk in an office.
I first heard the female humpback’s name earlier this year from marine scientist David Donnelly when I was researching where the East Coast population of humpbacks go during Summer.

Bladerunner came up in the conversation because she was recognised by the scarring on her back with a calf (a sign of a good recovery) in the Southern Ocean south of Perth.

This sighting so far west was evidence that as the humpback population grows their migratory patterns are becoming more diverse. Most of the population migrates to areas of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean south of New Zealand so she was quite a long way from her usual route.

After that she went off my radar again until I became interested in how whale species got their names.

I found out why Southern Rights were named rights etc and then I turned my mind to how Bladerunner got her name.

The first thing I found when I did a Google search was the photo. Horrendous scars

I was surprised to find out how famous she was She was appearing in many articles because her survival was so miraculous and she was so easy to distinguish.

Then I found a 2013 report of a sighting in Port Macquarie with an additional photo Bladerunner’s fresh wounds taken in 2001 by Australian Newspaper photographer Glenn Campbell.

I contacted him and this is what he remembered of the naming:

“From what I remember the wounds were pretty fresh , the low quality of the digital cameras in those days don’t really bring out the extent of the injuries.

“No Bladerunner was not my idea but the editor of the Telegraph Campbell Reid’s input and I just had a 600mm lens with me and got right over it above the 500ft ceiling for whales and then for the next week or so was put aboard a helicopter to follow the poor creature up the coast , we lost it north of Coffs Harbour.

“…it was on the front of the OZ , Tele , Courier mail the next day and then onto the rest of the English papers.”

So it was one of the big guys in the Australian media industry Campbell Reid who gave her a name that will no doubt stick for many years to come.

Another lead had led me to Ros Butt from Cat Balou Cruises in Eden.

Ros saw Bladerunner last year and once before in 2008 but she only knew of the name from media reports.

Facebook screenshot used with permission of Cat Balou Cruises

Facebook screenshot used with permission of Cat Balou Cruises

She was happy to supply the photo and thanks to all these people we can all know Bladerunner a little bit better.


Tow ins at Currumbin August 28


The big winter swell continues but today there is an impossible sweep and a strong southerly.

The swells are frothy, Saharan dust stormed and feral, All Black-like in there offensive lines, intense, prone to shock and surprise, except probably not as consistent.

After these shots I go to Kirra.  Huge Kirra three times over head and barrelling slower than Monday.


I park, suit up and walk down to the South side of Greenmount hill and drift to Kirra Surf. Massive sweep. It’s funky and ripply and I take a couple of littlies.

Drift quicky past the groin during a long lull. Whinge to a few salmon paddling up stream. Then a set comes and I don’t take the first one, but the second is so far out. It just grabs me like the All Black forward pack and pushes me backwards grunting and heaving past Kirra Surf.

Nothing to do but surrender.

On the long cold return in the day’s last green grey light I walk backwards shivering and beaten to watch a surfer getting towed in on about three long waves, doing three deep barrels a wave at super speed. He was riding waves from Pizza Hut through to past Kirra Surf disappearing almost in the dark distance. Massive triple over headers smashing every part of their face pulling in and coming out of barrel after barrel… I later heard it was local big wave riding legend Dean Morrison
Click here to see Mick Fanning at Kirra videoed by Craig Halstead and posted on Coastal Watch.

Photos copyright Mic Smith

The only way into them is to tow in.IMG_5148 IMG_5149 IMG_5168 IMG_5179 IMG_5192 IMG_5197 IMG_5199 IMG_5201 IMG_5219 IMG_5227 IMG_5229 IMG_5232 IMG_5237

Memo #RSF Paris: Australian media freedom at risk from anti-terror laws

Originally posted on journlaw:


[Research assistance from media freedom intern Jasmine Lincoln]

Memo to:Benjamin Ismail, Bureau Asie-Pacifique, Reporters sans frontiers (RSF – Reporters Without Borders), Paris.

From: Mark Pearson, RSF correspondent, Australia

RSFlogo-enI regret to advise that several events and policy proposals have impacted negatively on the state of media freedom in Australia.

They are highly likely to threaten Australia’s ranking on your forthcoming RSF World Press Freedom Index.

A raft of new laws and policies proposed by the conservative Abbott Government has placed its stamp on media law and free and open public commentary.

The initiatives follow in the steps of the prior Labor Government that had proposed a new media regulatory regime with potentially crippling obligations under the Privacy Act.

In the course of its first year in office the Abbott Government has:

- imposed a media blackout on vital information on the important human rights…

View original 736 more words


Building swell: Barrels at Burleigh and Kirra


It’s one of those weeks when the surf is so good I don’t want to do anything else.
After a few days you see guys broken and crushed saying “No more”
I’ve been keeping an eye on Kirra and today it was sick
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Asher Pacey nailed heaps of barrels like this

Hollywood stars depict horn and tusk trade

Two new Hollywood films about Wildlife crime and poaching will star Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio.

Wildlife Extra reports one of the movies which will be written by Will Staples for Warner Bros, will cover the global illegal wildlife trade with corrupt executives and poachers.

The other film about the illegal trade in elephant and rhino parts will be set in Africa.

Hardy is to play a former Special Forces soldier who moves to the African bush to train rangers to battle poachers.

The films will be produced by Toby Maguire.


Kirra starts to work. Saturday Aug 25

Photos copyright Mic Smith


Burleigh Sunday MorningIMG_4922






NZ sales website bans ivory and endangered species ads

CAPTION: Endangered animal products, such as these  elephant tusks and rhino horns confiscated in 1990, are now banned from ads on NZ website Trade Me.

New Zealand’s buy and sell website, Trade Me, has banned people advertising ivory, rhino horn and other endangered animal products on its site.

“We’ve decided to ban the sale of animal parts from animals listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (‘CITES’) on Trade Me. The ban will come into effect on 17 September 2014,” Trade Me says in a post on its website.

“A ban on ivory (and other animal products) feels like the right thing to do. We’ve consulted with a lot of experts in this area, including advocacy groups and the Department of Conservation.”

“Trade Me allowing the sale of ivory in particular is increasingly out of step with international trends. We also read the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee’s report which recommended a full ban on ivory sales in New Zealand,” Trade me says


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