Category Archives: NEWSLETTER

Nurturing Ocean Stewards: Teaching Children About Human Impact on the Ocean


As educators, we hold a substantial responsibility to shape young minds and cultivate a sense of stewardship towards our planet. One of the most critical lessons we can impart is the understanding of human impact on the ocean. The ocean, covering more than 70% of our planet, is vital to our survival and well-being. By teaching children about the ways in which human activities affect the ocean, we empower them to become informed and responsible global citizens who actively contribute to ocean conservation efforts.

We love educating children (and adults) about the ocean and feel a duty to ensure that an environmental message is at the core of what we do. Click the link to watch our Human Impact video for schools and read on for useful ideas and resources to assist you as educators to plan your teaching about Human Impact on the Ocean….

Human Impact Curriculum Themed Incursions for Primary & High Schools

Human Impact Video

1. Exploring Ocean Ecosystems. Start by introducing your students to the wonders of ocean ecosystems. Dive into the diverse marine life, from coral reefs to kelp forests, and discuss the intricate relationships between species. Encourage them to think about the ocean as a complex web of life, where each organism plays a crucial role. Check out our free Habitats Resources and Programs for facts and activities. Our Humpback Whale Teaching Resources will help bring food webs to life ($30).


2. Our Connection – Human Activities and Ocean Impact.  Plastic Diary activityHelp children understand the connection between their daily actions and the health of the ocean. Discuss activities such as plastic consumption, waste disposal, and carbon emissions. Engage them in thought-provoking discussions about how seemingly small choices can have significant consequences for marine ecosystems. Get children involved with our Plastic Diary and other free activities.


3. Plastic Predicament: The Impact of Plastic Pollution. Dive deep into the issue of plastic pollution and its devastating effects on marine life. Share heartwarming success stories of communities coming together to clean up beaches and reduce plastic waste. Organize a beach cleanup or a plastic-free challenge to inspire hands-on action. Check out our blog to find out how to go about organising a beach clean on the Sunshine Coast.


4. Coral Compassion: Coral Reefs and Climate Change.  Beach Clean Sunshine CoastExplore the vibrant world of coral reefs and their vulnerability to climate change. Discuss coral bleaching and its connection to rising ocean temperatures. Encourage students to brainstorm ways to reduce their carbon footprint and advocate for sustainable practices. Download our free Habitats PDF fact sheet which include Coral Reef Habitat.


5. Guardians of the Sea: Empowering Future Ocean Stewards. Foster a sense of responsibility and empowerment in your students, many of whom live on the Queensland Coast and experience the ocean in their daily lives. Encourage them to be vocal advocates for ocean conservation by writing letters to local officials, creating awareness campaigns, or participating in community projects and beach cleans. Highlight inspiring stories of young activists who have made a difference, such as Gretta Thunberg. They may be interested in joining a volunteer conservation organisation like:


6. Creative Expression: Art and Literature for Ocean Awareness. Read stories about turtle hatchlings to younger years, such as lluka the Hybrid Hatchling and Trevy’s Tricky Day. Encourage children to create marine-themed artwork, write stories about ocean adventures, or poems about the ocean and how fragile it is.


Teaching children about the human impact on the ocean is a vital step towards securing a sustainable future for our planet. By instilling a deep appreciation for the ocean and nurturing a sense of responsibility, we equip our students with the tools they need to become compassionate stewards of the sea. Together, as educators and young minds, we can make a lasting difference and ensure that the ocean thrives for generations to come.


Ocean Life EducationWhy not book in one of our inspirational Ocean Life Education Programs or Events?

Discover our free Resources


Guide to Shark and Ray Awareness Day in Australia

shark and ray awareness day australia

Sharks and rays take the spotlight on July 14 each year as we celebrate Shark & Ray Awareness Day. This global event focuses on the positive impact that sustainability can have on populations of these magnificent species in our oceans.

Sharks and rays are true marvels of natural selection, with extraordinary physical and behavioral adaptations that have allowed them to thrive in diverse marine environments. These creatures play a crucial role in marine food webs and contribute significantly to the health and balance of our oceans.

Rays, often referred to as “flattened sharks,” are closely related to their more well-known cousins. They possess unique features, such as their flattened bodies and wing-like fins, which make them exceptional swimmers and hunters. Both sharks and rays are indispensable contributors to the delicate ecosystem of our oceans.

Shark & Ray Awareness Day serves as a platform for education and engagement. By understanding these amazing creatures, we can all play a vital role in protecting them and ensuring their survival for generations to come.

Core messages of Shark and Ray Awareness Day


  • Educate the public
  • Promote sustainable practices
  • Combat Misconceptions
  • Support Conservation Efforts
  • Engage the Youth


Read on to discover why we need to raise awareness and what you can do to help…

Combating Misconceptions in Australia shark

Sharks often face an unjustified negative reputation in the media, overshadowing their critical role in marine ecosystems.

On average, three people are killed by sharks in Australia each year. Many more fatalities occur due to encounters with horses and cows. In comparison, an estimated 100 million sharks are killed worldwide by humans annually.

Sharks, in particular, have been subject to negative portrayals in popular media and culture, leading to fear and unwarranted demonization. Many people associate sharks with danger and aggression, which has perpetuated the idea that they are ruthless killers. In reality, shark attacks on humans are relatively rare, and most shark species are not a threat to humans.

How can you help?

One effective way to address this image problem is by learning all you can about sharks and rays, and sharing your enthusiasm with others. You can also choose to support only media that portrays a positive image of these misunderstood animals.

Australia Needs Sharks

Sharks are crucial for the sustainability of Australian waters and marine environments globally. They serve as top predators, helping to control the balance of marine species and ensure ecological stability. Removing sharks from these ecosystems would have far-reaching consequences, disrupting the delicate balance of marine life and threatening the health of coral reefs, including the magnificent Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.

The Great Barrier Reef Needs Sharks

The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest natural wonder, is a global treasure attracting millions of tourists every year. Sharks are an integral part of this vibrant ecosystem, contributing to its biodiversity and resilience. Their presence enriches the experience of divers and snorkelers, offering an opportunity to witness the wonders of the marine world up close.

 Read Our Guide to Sharks Down Under

Support Shark Conservation Efforts

The excessive and indiscriminate fishing of sharks and rays, driven by the high demand for their products, is the primary threat to their survival. The demand for shark fins, in particular, has led to a devastating practice known as shark finning, where sharks are caught, their fins are cut off, and the rest of the body is often discarded back into the ocean, still alive. This wasteful practice has resulted in serious declines in many shark and ray populations worldwide. As a result of these unsustainable fishing practices, one-third of shark and ray species are now classified as threatened with extinction

How can you help?

You can help by supporting campaigns and by always purchasing sustainable seafood. Remember, shark is often labelled as flake in Australian fish and chip shops.

How to Engage Kids and Celebrate Shark and Ray Awareness Day

whale shark

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 to protect them. Inspiring kids by teaching them about sharks is crucial to improving the outlook for sharks.

We have created a range of FREE shark videos and fact sheets to assist in teaching children, as well as a paid online teaching resource pack and an online sharks course for kids.


Our resources and videos cover the following shark themed curriculum topics for kids:

Adapatation, Habitats, Human Impact, Food Webs, Natural Selection, Classification, and more…

Amazing Sharks Videos for Kids

Ocean Life Education’s owner and Director of Education, Richard Coward, is a marine scientist and recently created a range of engaging shark videos for kids, entitled:

  • Built to Hunt
  • The Point of Teeth
  • Why We Need Sharks
  • Why Sharks Attack

 Click here to watch Amazing Sharks video

 Quiz – Search for Your Inner Shark shark personaility quiz

How much are you like a shark??

Take the Quiz

We hope you enjoy our resources and courses and that you become an advocate for our misunderstood sharks and rays too.

 Other Important Shark & Ray Awareness Days to Remember

  • June 25- Angel Shark Day
  • August 30- International Whale Shark Day
  • September 17- World Manta Day
  • October 17- International Sawfish
  • October 30- Ghost Shark Day

Useful links

Join a volunteer shark conservation organisation like:


Life Cycles of Ocean Animals for Schools

Marine animals have diverse life cycles depending on their species and ecological niche. Here are some common life cycle patterns observed in marine animals:


Producing young by means of eggs which are hatched after they have been laid by the parent.

Many marine animals lay eggs that hatch then undergo a series of developmental stages before transforming into adults. For example, sea turtles lay eggs on beaches, and the hatchlings make their way to the sea where they undergo a pelagic (open ocean) stage before maturing into adults.

Learn more about turtle life cycles with our free resources


Give birth to live young.

These species nourish their developing embryos internally and give birth to fully formed offspring. Marine mammals such as shark life cycles whales, dolphins, and seals exhibit this type of life cycle. The majority of sharks give birth to live young too.

Learn more about vivaparous sharks and shark life cycles


Change of physical form, structure, or substance.

Some marine invertebrates, such as sea urchins, sea stars, and certain types of crustaceans, undergo metamorphosis. They start their lives as larvae, which go through a radical transformation to become adults.

Learn more about metamorphosis in sea urchins and sea stars

Complex Life Cycles

Many marine invertebrates, like corals and certain types of worms, have complex life cycles involving multiple stages and forms. They may have larval stages that float in the water column before settling on a substrate and metamorphosing into adults.

When coral polyps are sexually mature and their cells produce gametes (egg and/or sperm). The gametes are fertilized and produce a zygote which creates new cells and eventually forms a new coral polyp.

Planktonic Life

Numerous marine organisms, including various types of zooplankton and phytoplankton, have life cycles that occur entirely within the water column. These organisms often have free-floating larval stages that drift with ocean currents until they develop into adult forms.

Learn more about the open ocean habitat

Life cycles can vary greatly among different marine animal species. Factors such as reproduction, development, feeding habits, and habitat requirements influence the particular life cycle patterns observed in each species.


Example Life Cycles of marine animals


Turtles have an intriguing life cycle that involves various stages of development and unique behaviors. Here is an overview of turtle life cycle the life cycle of turtles:

  1. Nesting and Egg Laying: Female turtles return to land, usually the same beach where they were born, to lay their eggs. They dig a hole in the sand using their hind flippers and deposit a clutch of eggs. The number of eggs in a clutch depends on the turtle species, ranging from a few to over a hundred. Once the eggs are laid, the female covers the nest with sand and returns to the sea.
  2. Incubation: The eggs are left buried in the warm sand to incubate. The temperature plays a vital role in determining the sex of the hatchlings. Warmer temperatures typically produce females, while cooler temperatures result in males. The incubation period can vary depending on the species and environmental conditions but generally ranges from several weeks to a few months.
  3. Hatching: When the time is right, the hatchlings begin to emerge from the nest. Using their egg tooth, a small pointed structure on their snout, they break open the eggshell. Hatchlings often emerge together in a group, which provides some protection against predators. It’s estimated that only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood.
  4. Journey to the Sea: Once they hatch, the tiny turtles instinctively crawl towards the brightest light, which is typically the reflection of the moon on the ocean’s surface. This natural instinct helps guide them towards the water. They may face various challenges on their way, such as avoiding predators and navigating obstacles.
  5. Pelagic Stage: After reaching the water, the hatchlings enter what is known as the pelagic (open ocean) stage. During this period, they spend much of their time floating and swimming in the open ocean, away from coastal areas. This stage can last for several years, depending on the turtle species.
  6. Growth and Development: As the hatchlings continue their journey through the pelagic stage, they undergo significant growth and development. They feed on a diet consisting mainly of plankton, small organisms, and jellyfish, depending on their species.
  7. Juvenile Stage: After the pelagic stage, the turtles begin to transition into the juvenile stage. At this point, they leave the open ocean and migrate to coastal areas, such as estuaries and nearshore habitats such as coral reef. Here, they find shelter, food, and suitable environments to grow and mature.
  8. Maturation: The turtles continue to grow and mature over several years or even decades, depending on the species. The time it takes for turtles to reach sexual maturity varies widely among species, ranging from a few years to several decades.
  9. Reproduction: Once turtles reach sexual maturity, they return to the nesting grounds, often the same beach where they were born, to lay their own eggs. This completes the life cycle, as they repeat the process of nesting and egg laying.


The life cycle can vary among different turtle species. Each species has its own unique behaviors, migration patterns, and habitat preferences. Environmental factors, such as temperature, habitat availability, and human activities, can also influence the success and survival of turtle populations throughout their life cycle.


Teaching Marine Life Cycles

Our curriculum based Primary Programs give students the opportunity to observe live marine animals such as sea stars, sea urchins and sharks. This brings the learning experience to life.

Please check out our Primary Programs for more information.

Guide to Teaching Ocean Literacy in Australia

teaching ocean literacy principles

So, what’s all this about? What is Ocean Literacy? Ocean literacy is an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you – and the influence that you have on the ocean.

When we understand the ocean we can begin to comprehend how its works, giving us the information we need to take measures to protect it. Education is at the heart of ocean literacy and this is where we as educators play a crucial role in inspiring people young and old to want to take action and make a difference, transforming ocean knowledge into action. Here’s our guide to teaching Ocean Literacy at schools…

Who Developed the Ocean Literacy Principles?

The Ocean Literacy Principles were developed in 2004 through an international community-wide consultation, with agreement with hundreds of scientists, educators and policy makers. The original purpose of the campaign was to address the lack of ocean related content in schools in the US.

The fundamental aim of the Ocean Literacy Principles is that every human being should understand basic principles about the ocean by the time they graduate high school, thus creating an ‘ocean-literate’ society.

What is the Goal of the Ocean Literacy Principles?

UNESCO has set the following goal for the 7 Ocean Literacy Principles as:

“Ocean Literacy is included in curriculum frameworks of all 193 UNESCO Member States by 2025”.

What are The Ocean Literacy Principles?

 The Ocean Literacy Principles are:

  1. The Earth has one big ocean with many features
  2. The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth
  3. The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate
  4. The ocean made the Earth habitable
  5. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems
  6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected
  7. The ocean is largely unexplored


What Does Being Ocean Literate Mean?

 Being Ocean Literate Means:

  1. Understanding the essential principles and fundamental concepts about the ocean
  2. Communicating about the ocean in a meaningful way
  3. Being able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources


Are Many Australians Ocean Literate?

Studies show many Australians are very concerned about the ocean, with ocean plastic being the biggest concern voiced, then overfishing and other human impacts. So a lot of good work is already being done to spread the message that we need to act now to preserve the ocean for the future. Many Australians are ocean literate but a lot more still has to be done as the ocean needs our help.

Teaching Ocean Literacy in Australia

The basic principles of ocean literacy do not fall within traditional science disciplines, they instead focus on integrated science. This is because of the interdisciplinary nature of ocean sciences.

As teachers, it is our responsibility to educate children (and adults) about the ocean in a meaningful way. This can be done under the standard school curriculum themes. Our free primary resources can help you get started, or why not book in an incursion so one of our expert marine educators can teach the children about the ocean using interaction with our live marine animals. Here are some great resources to assist with planning.

Ocean Life Education Programs & Resources

Ocean Literacy resources – Australia focused

UNESCO – Ocean Literacy Teachers Area

Marine Stewardship Council of Australia

World Ocean Day – Plan Your Event

Why is the Health of the Ocean So Important?

The ocean covers most of our planet, it regulates our climate and provides the air we breathe. It also feeds us, provides jobs and livelihoods and is a tool for economic development, as well as being fun to play in! We humans need a healthy ocean in order to survive. So, the health of the ocean is critically important to us.

Click image to download PDF.

why we need a healthy ocean

Read our blog – 10 reasons why we depend on our ocean


Further resources


Ocean and Climate Literacy – Essential principles and fundamental concepts

UNESCO – Ocean Literacy for All