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Two missing sea snake species found off Australia coast



Australian scientists Tuesday hailed the discovery of two sea snake species feared to have become extinct years ago off the Western Australia coast.

The short-nose sea snake and the leaf-scaled sea snake had not been seen since disappearing from their only known habitat on Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea more than 15 years ago, James Cook University researchers wrote in the Biological Conservation journal.

But they have since been “spotted alive and healthy” at Ningaloo Reef (short-nose sea snake) and Shark Bay (leaf-scaled sea snake), thousands of kilometres south.

“This discovery is really exciting, we get another chance to protect these two endemic Western Australian sea snake species,” the study’s lead author Blanche D’Anastasi said in a statement about the two species, listed by Australian authorities as critically endangered.

“But in order to succeed in protecting them, we will need to monitor populations as well as undertake research into understanding their biology and the threats they face.”

The university said the short-nose sea snake was identified after a wildlife officer sent a photo of two of them to D’Anastasi in April 2013.


“What is even more exciting is that they were courting, suggesting that they are members of a breeding population,” D’Anastasi added.

The scientists said it was a “real surprise” when they also discovered a “new and significant” population of the leaf-scaled sea snake in the seagrass beds of Shark Bay.

“The disappearance of sea snakes from Ashmore Reef could not be attributed to trawling and remains unexplained,” said another researcher, Vimoksalehi Lukoschek.

Sea snakes are often vulnerable as by-catch by prawn trawlers.

“Clearly we need to identify the key threats to their survival in order to implement effective conservation strategies if we are going to protect these newly discovered coastal populations,” Lukoschek added.

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WATCH LIVE: Livestream of first #DemDebate with 10 presidential hopefuls



Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke are just three of the ten Democrats who will appear on the debate stage in Miami Wednesday night.

Warren is clearly seen as the front-runner of this tier of candidates, and her policy-focused campaign has helped her stand out from typical politicians speaking in broad platitudes and empty promises made but rarely kept.

The Democrats are set to take the stage at 9 p.m. EST and will speak in 60-second sound-bytes for two hours, the rules state. Prior to the debate, two candidates went to one of the ports of entry and immigration is likely to be a key issue in the discussion.

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Retired admiral could pose serious threat if he decides to run against Iowa Republican: report



On Wednesday, Iowa Starting Line reported that Ret. Adm. Michael Franken is in talks with state and national Democrats about challenging GOP Sen. Joni Ernst.

Franken, who has served as Deputy for Military Operations for AFRICOM, Director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, and Chief of Legislative Affairs for the Department of the Navy, hails from Sioux Center, a town in the deeply conservative northwest part of the state.

Ernst, who first gained national attention for her 2014 campaign ad about castrating hogs, is a reliable vote for President Donald Trump in the Senate, and the president's poor approval ratings in Iowa have left Democrats hopeful that they can defeat her.

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‘This American dream’: Pain overwhelms family of drowned migrants



"They had this American dream," sobbed Rosa Ramirez after images of her drowned son and granddaughter, discovered face-down on the banks of the Rio Grande between Mexico and the United States, shocked the world on Wednesday.

The poignant pictures of Oscar Alberto Martinez and his toddler daughter Valeria -- not yet two years old -- has sparked outrage back home in El Salvador, where around 200 migrants like them leave for the United States daily, preparing to take similar risks.

"The pain has been immense. I still can't believe that my boy and my little granddaughter are dead, they only wanted to get to the United States.... they had this American dream -- to achieve a better life," Oscar's mother told AFP.

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