Ever wondered how many teeth a shark has? How long sea cucumbers live for? Which animal throws its stomach out through its mouth to eat? Ocean Life Education’s Marine Biologist for a Day Program is designed for children with a curiosity about the marine environment and all the animals who live in it.
This program delves well below the surface to provide kids with an in-depth knowledge about sea creatures and clears up some common misconceptions about the ocean’s much maligned apex predator.
Director of Education, Richard Coward, says sharks are always a popular topic on the day.
“So much of what we think we know about sharks comes from movies like Jaws and most of it is incorrect. Sharks are not attracted by human blood and we’re not on their preferred menu.”
As part of the hands on nature of the program, children get to touch different shark jaws, learning about the shape of their teeth and why they vary so much between species.
An essential part of the learning process is making sure the information is delivered in a fun and tactile way.
While meeting Rainbow, the freshwater turtle, children discover how simple pollutants such as plastic bags are proving fatal to sea turtles. They learn how the reptile’s digestive system prevents rubbish, mistaken as food, from being regurgitated.
For Richard this environmental message is a key point he wants to get across in the program. “We treat the ocean likes it’s invincible but it’s not. Every little thing that ends up in the sea has the potential to make animals sick – and if they start to die off, the impact on humans is huge as well. Making that connection between sea and land is vital for the planet’s future.”
While stroking sea stars, handling sawfish rostrums and observing a baby shark from close quarters, the children absorb a huge amount of interesting facts, which they share with their parents in a presentation at the end of the day.
Marine Biologist for the Day is a unique program run by Ocean Life Education during school holidays on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. It’s suitable for 7-12 years olds and is ideal for anyone with a passion for the ocean and a desire to make a difference to the lives of sea creatures.