Category Archives: Marine Education

‘Deep Blue’ for Science Week 2020

What an exciting opportunity we have this year with Science Week.  The theme for the yearly program is dedicated to something Ocean Life Education is extremely passionate about.

Deep Blue: innovations for the future of our oceans

In case you’re wondering what exactly that means, don’t be shy – read on.

Science Week is celebrated throughout Australia annually, this year falling upon the 15 – 23 August.  It is a way to embrace science and technology, whether you are a school student, a builder or a scientist – all are invited to jump in and get involved by taking part in over 1000 scientific events held nationally. Science Week is for everyone, and each of the activities are designed to address and excite all ages. But what is the end goal for such programs and interactive activities?

Here at Ocean Life Education, we endeavour to enhance and spark interest in scientific pursuits for the future.

Science week has delivered a powerful format this year and we are looking forward to joining the celebration by offering a program discussing advancing innovations such as aquaculture and clean energy.

The Australian Science Teachers Association has a great resource book of ideas.

Here’s a look at what this year’s theme will be covering …

Aquaculture is the controlled process of cultivating aquatic organisms, especially for human consumption. With billions of mouths to feed in our ever-populating world, the earth’s wild fish and marine life, cannot possibly sustain us, therefore it’s vital to research viable aquaculture systems.

Water is a very powerful element.  Investigating how we can harness the power of our oceans to generate electricity is a vital step to attaining clean energy as a solution for reducing our impact on climate change and eliminate carbon pollution. Although the use of water to generate electricity is not new; we are now looking to the power of seawater to do the same.

What we need is brilliant young minds to come up with engineering solutions to make this possible and affordable. Will that be you?

Get in touch

info@oceanlifeeducation.com.au

07 5443 8545

Cobb and Co Museum an ‘Under the Sea’ Adventure

Ocean Life Education’s marine animals were welcomed with open arms for some educational summer holiday fun last month at Cobb & Co Museum. Local families of the Toowoomba area met our beautiful marine ambassadors and gained a deeper knowledge about ocean conservation and the part we play in it.

The chosen theme of ‘Under the Sea’ did not disappoint, as locals arrived of all ages to touch and interact with our exciting live marine life. While the little ones marvelled at our soft sea cucumbers, the parents enjoyed the facts presented by our Director of Education, Richard Coward.

Although our baby bamboo sharks don’t let you get too close, they held their own with some interesting personal facts as part of their show appearance. They were given the name ‘Bamboo Sharks’ permanently for an impermanent feature, as they lose their ‘bamboo’ styled stripes when they grow, not needing the camouflage as much in maturity. Their powerful little jaws have an incredible strength even at such a young age – a tender ‘nibble’ of your finger would leave a mark if you did try and have a pat. So, we keep them safe from little fingers in case they get a little hungry before their lunch break…

Ocean Life Education programs are both educational and interactive, and one of our exciting artefacts that we brought to link the information and animals with our program was our tiger shark jaws – this was a hit with not just the kids, but the adults too! The real showstoppers are our patient and lovable animals. Everyone enjoyed touching our blue linkea sea stars, spikey sea urchins and black sea cucumbers. They even got to see a real shark egg up close and personal.

Did you know that our ocean covers 70% of our planet, supporting 228,450 known species in the ocean with as many as 2 million more yet to be properly discovered? Humans are one of those species that the ocean and its marine plants plays a fundamental role in the lives of – just one being its production of over 70% of the world’s oxygen!

You can tell we are passionate about what we do, and it was a pleasure to visit Cobb & Co Museum with our beloved marine life. We view it as a privilege to raise awareness for their needs in the wild and highlight important environmental issues with all ages. Have a look at our Facebook page for some pictures from the Cobb & Co experience.

If you would welcome an Ocean Life Education visit for your event, school or centre, please click the link below or send us an email; we would love to discuss an opportunity to bring our animals to you!

 

The Stars of our Programs

Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life that make the most impact.  Take sea stars for example –  these unassuming members of the marine world are more than just pretty decorations on the reef.

These topsy turvy creatures with their mouth underneath and their bottom up top, play a major role in keeping our oceans healthy.

Sea stars are the underwater clean-up crew.  They eat their way through debris discarded by other animals feeding frenzies, as well as targeting organisms that need to be kept in check.  The services they provide in the marine eco system has earnt them the title of keystone species.

And they’re not afraid to take on a big challenge.  These close relatives of sea urchins and sand dollars can consume creatures much larger than their small mouths would suggest, thanks to a stomach-turning technique they’ve perfected.

They can expel one of their two bellies outside their body to wrap around prey – this external digestion is a slow process, taking them up to 10 hours to finish their meal.

But this is only one of the tricks up their five more sleeves….. sea stars can regenerate entire bodies from just one severed limb.  This is because most of their vital organs are in the arms, including eye spots, which help them to sense light from dark as they move about in the ocean.

Not bad for an animal that has neither a heart nor a brain.  Instead, these echinoderms have a basic water vascular system which allows them to pump the surrounding sea through their bodies.  Even their tiny, suction-cupped feet, which they use to move about, are fed from the filtered water they draw in.

There are close to 2,000 species of sea stars in our oceans using these clever adaptations.  These sloths of the sea will never win any medals for speed but many can live up to 35 years – a rarity amongst marine animals of this size, which speaks volumes about their ability to beat the odds.

While, some are protected by a spikey, calcified skin, most just rely on their bright colours to deceive predators into believing they’re toxic to touch.

Ocean Life Education has long been a fan of sea stars – they are an integral part of our team of animal ambassadors that accompany us to all our presentations.

If you would like to gently touch and learn more about these amazing sea creatures and many others like them, contact us at Ocean Life Education on info@oceanlifeeducation.com.au Discover for yourself why this most unassuming of marine animals truly has star qualities.

The High Price of Peace of Mind

We Aussies love our beaches – in the warmer months the coastline has a magnetic pull, drawing us to the sand, sea and surf in our thousands.

But while the thought of a refreshing ocean dip might be appealing, the concept of potentially coming face to face with one of our most feared predators has prompted officials to take drastic action.

Shark nets have been deployed off the shoreline of the east coast for more than 80 years.  But they offer a false sense of security.  Stretching less than 200 metres long and extending down only 6 metres, these mesh barriers are at best a deterrent and certainly don’t make beaches attack proof.

Sharks can get under, over or around them, and as it turns out, more are caught on the shore side of the net when they’re heading back out to sea, than when they’re swimming towards shore.

The holes in the mesh are around 50 centimetres across – large enough to let small animals pass through, but the perfect size for trapping bigger species.

Turtles, dolphins and rays are common victims of the nets – becoming entangled and drowning or starving to death.  A major concern is the ensnaring of humpback whales on their journey back to Antarctica after their annual breeding season in the tropics.

Calves in particular are easy prey – in just over a decade 55 have been caught in the shark nets, including one off Noosa in late September this year.  Another swam down to Sydney with the remnants of a Queensland net still wrapped around its mouth.

But the toll on the animals targeted by these barriers is far greater. In 2017 alone, more than 500 sharks were caught in the nets off Queensland – 377 died, more than 100 others had to be euthanised – only 20 were released.

Amongst the victims were grey nurse sharks which are classified as critically endangered and pose no real threat to us.  The vast majority of species share the sea quite peacefully with people – only a handful of sharks are responsible for fatal attacks on humans.

Just to put it all into perspective, on average one person a year is killed by a shark in Australia, as opposed to 5 dying from falling out of bed, 10 struck down by lightning or perhaps the most sobering, more than 1,100 taken on our roads.

Shark attacks are extremely rare and there is no scientific evidence to prove that nets protect humans.  What we do know is the attempt to keep us safe is killing marine life indiscriminately.

Removing so many animals, including apex predators, will have an impact on  local marine ecosystems – but we won’t be able to calculate that cost until far too late.

Marine biologist, Holly Richmond, feels so passionately about the need to remove all nets, she’s created a video:  www.thesharknetfilm.com

Ocean Life Education is passionate about protecting all marine animals and focusing on the important role sharks play in our oceans.  For more information about our programs including our Shark Discovery presentation visit: https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/programs/