Author Archives: oceanlifeeducation

How to Get Involved in a Beach Clean

Beach Clean

 

If you want to make a difference and take action to protect our ocean environment, why not join a beach clean? It’s sure to inspire you and make you feel great and you’ll probably learn a lot and meet some pretty amazing people too. Read on to discover how to get involved in a beach clean in Queensland and start getting active for the environment today.

What’s a Beach Clean?

Beach clean ups are community activities that happen along coastlines around the world. They are normally organised by volunteers and have a fun and lively atmosphere. Environmental groups, civic organizations and individual beach-goers join forces to collect beach rubbish in order to make the beach a nicer, safer place and to improve the health of the coastal and ocean ecosystem.

It’s an amazing feeling to be part of the solution. So, why not check out these brilliant organisations that plan these eventsbeach clean in our incredible region and find out what’s coming up….

 

Other organisers…

 

Read our blog to find out about annual events to protect the ocean

 

Is a Whale Shark a Shark?

whale shark

Whale sharks look quite different to how we imagine a shark to look. They are enormous, reaching 12 meters or more in length and weighing as much as 16 tons – basically, they are about the size of a bus! And they don’t have sharp teeth, in fact their teeth don’t really assist in feeding at all. So, it’s no surprise that people often ask us the question…is a whale shark a shark?

Are Whale Sharks Really Sharks?

The answer is yes, whale sharks really are sharks. They have all the 33 characteristics of a shark, such as a cartilage skeleton, five pairs of gills and unfused pectoral fins to the head. Unlike whales, they are not mammals and their young are not fed by the mother’s milk. Like sharks, whale sharks are fish. In fact they are the largest fish in the ocean. So, whale sharks really are sharks…and they get their name from the fact that they are enormous!

What Do Whale Sharks Eat? 

Whale sharks have rows of over 300 tiny teeth, but as filter feeders they do not use these teeth to eat. Instead, whale sharks (and other filter feeding sharks) swim along the ocean’s currents with their huge mouths open wide, filtering large quantities of water as they go and extracting tiny organisms called plankton & krill from the water. A whale shark’s mouth is about 1.5 meters wide, so it’s an impressive sight!

The 3 largest sharks include (in size order)

  1. Whale Shark 17 meters
  2. Basking Shark 15 m
  3. Megamouth Shark 7-8 m

All filter feeders!

Diet: Plankton (tiny organisms), krill and small fish

Ten Amazing Whale Shark Facts

  1. Largest fish and shark in the world
  2. Habitat: warm open waters of the tropical oceans 
  3. Whale sharks spend most of their time near the surface
  4. Lifespan: 70 to 100 years
  5. Average length of an adult: 9.7 meters
  6. Average weight: 9 tonnes
  7. Teeth: over 300 rows of tiny teeth – not used for eating!
  8. Whale sharks are solitary creatures
  9. Filter feeders – feeding mainly on plankton
  10. Able to process over 6,000 litres of water each hour

Why We Need Sharks

Learn more about sharks? 

online shark course

Check out our Amazing Sharks Online Shark Course

Check out our Shark Resources

 

 

Further reading…

Save Our Seas – Whale Sharks Down Under

 

Should We Protect Sharks?

 

Amazing sharks

We think so! We hear so many negative stories about sharks in the media but what role do they actually play in the ocean and why are they important to us?

The fact is that sharks are a crucial part of the food chain and help keep the oceans, planet (and us), healthy… and their numbers are dwindling fast.

Read on to discover why we need sharks and why we need to take action to protect these misunderstood creatures…

Sharks Get a Bad Press 

shark cullMany people fear sharks because of sensationalised stories in the media and scary films like Jaws.

The fact is that 100 million sharks are killed by humans each year and sharks kill around 12 humans a year.

So, maybe sharks should be scared of us, not the other way around?

Learn the Facts About Sharks

 

why we need sharks

 

We need to take time to learn the facts about sharks and why they are so important to us and our world, so that we can help protect them. So, we have developed a range of FREE shark resources and an online Amazing Sharks Course aimed at dispelling the myths and promoting the facts about these misunderstood creatures.

 

 

Here are some REAL FACTS about Sharks…

 

Sharks Help Create a Healthy Ecosystem

shark ecosystemSharks are APEX predators, which means they sit at the top of the food chain and help control the numbers of animals below them in that food chain. By controlling populations of large and mid-sized predators, sharks allow smaller fish to thrive, which has a knock on effect on the food chain below them. Therefore, sharks help create a healthy ecosystem with a diverse range of species and competitors.

 

 

Sharks Are a Keystone Species

Apex predators like sharks are known as keystone species. This means that they are crucially important. If you take sharks out of the food chain, the whole structure could collapse.

Sharks & Natural Selection

sharks & natural selection

Sharks play an important role in natural selection because they prey on and remove weak and sick animals. This reduces the chances of them reproducing and helps keep fish populations healthy and strong.

 

 

Sharks & Habitat Loss

reef sharkSharks help prevent habitat loss. Habitats like coral reef depend on their fishy caretakers, like the little reef fish that live on them and clean and protect them from disease. Without sharks controlling numbers of big fish in a marine ecosystem, the numbers of these fish could explode. They would in turn kill off the smaller fish. If that happens, the reef would become diseased and die off, affecting millions of animals that depend on it for survival.

 

 

Everything On Earth is Connected

blue planet earthThe earth’s ocean produces 70 % of the oxygen we breath, food to eat, controls the climate, breaks down pollution, provides us with medicine and much, much more.

Humans are part of our amazing planet’s ecosystem. So, it is in our best interest to protect our home environment and everything within it…including sharks.

 

Want to Know more?

Watch our video: Why We Need Sharks

Read Our Blog: How to Engage Kids with Sharks

 

How You Can Help Protect Sharks

Check out Ocean Life Education’s other blogs:

How to Inspire Kids to Protect the Ocean

Reasons Why We Depend on Our Oceans

How Can I Protect the Ocean

 

shark cullCheck out the latest film ‘Shark Cull’ for some interesting views about shark safety programs off Australia’s East Coast 

 

 

 

 

Humpback Whale Migration Guide

whale watching

After a summer of feeding on up to 4 tonnes of krill in nutrient-rich chilly Antarctic waters, more than 20,000 Humpback Whales migrate north to the sub-tropical waters of East Coast Australia. They head to the warm waters of the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef, to mate and give birth. The east coast migration is one of the longest migratory journeys of any mammal on Earth – up to 10,000 km round trip! Our Humpback Migration Guide will help you make the most of one of the most incredible shows on earth…

To get the full low down on the east coast migration, check out our online course. humpback whale

When to Watch the Humpback Migration

The exact timing of the humpback migration can vary slightly from year to year but generally the whales can be easily seen off the East Coast at the following times:

May – Aug             Migrating north (generally 5-10km from the coast)

Sept – Nov            Migrating back South (often with new-born calves)

This map highlights some of the best whale watching lookouts on the east coast.

Tip: The whales are normally easier to see migrating south as they tend to travel closer to shore, protecting their calves from predators.

 

Check out our humpback migration calendar for more details…

Humpback Migration Calendar

Time of Day whale tail

Morning – Calm morning waters make easy viewing, before the wind picks up.

Evening – Sunsets make for spectacular whale watching as the changing light highlights the action.

 

Where to Watch 

The humpback’s spectacular acrobatic displays are often easily observed from the beach or land-based lookouts – so everyone gets the chance to watch for free!!

 

 

Best Whale Watching on the Sunshine Coast whale watching

The best whale watching on the Sunshine Coast can be observed from…

  • Coolum: Point Perry or Point Arkwright, Coolum
  • Kawana: Point Cartwright
  • Moffat Beach Headland
  • Noosa: Hells Gate, Noosa National Park
  • Alexandra Headland

Queensland Whale Watching by Boat 

whale watchingOur favorite places to go whale watching by boat…

-Mooloolaba

-Hervey Bay: about a quarter of humpbacks enter Hervey Bay

-Whitsundays

-Great Barrier Reef

Best Whale Watching near Brisbane

In our opinion, the best whale watching near Brisbane is from…

  • North Stradbroke Island – Point Lookout

 

Whale Watching Tips Humpback eye

Here are our whale watching tips – to ensure you get the most from your experience

  • Be respectful and mindful – follow 100 meter distance regulations
  • Take binoculars
  • Take a copy of our Identifying Humpbacks guide so you know what you’re looking for
  • Get up high for a better view
  • Be patient
  • Get educated so you can impress your friends with the facts!

 

Don’t forget to look out for East Coast Australia’s most famous white humpback whale. It’s Aboriginal name is ‘Migaloo’ or ‘white fella’.

 

 

 

Why We Need Whales

Whales are essential to the marine eco-system and therefore to us. They help to keep our oceans healthy. As we get up to 70% of our oxygen from the sea, we need it to be healthy enough to produce that oxygen, else we humans can’t survive!

5 Ways You Can Protect Whales

  1. Educate yourself & your friends
  2. Whale watch with a responsible company & keep 100 metres away
  3. Report sick or injured animals
  4. Reduce plastic usage & do not litter
  5. Support a whale charity:

Whale & Dolphin Conservation
Marine Conservation
Sea Shepherd
Humpbacks & Highrises

 

 

humpback whale kids courseTo get educated about the humpback migration and why we need to protect whales, why not check out our online course for kids

 

 

 

amazing sharks kids courseInterested in other courses for kids? Check out our Amazing Sharks Course