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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

 

Following in the Footsteps of Marine Pioneers

We at Ocean Life Education are proud and privileged to be protectors of the sea. We have made it our mission to raise awareness about the plight of our planet and in particular, the more than 70 percent of it covered in water.

For us, it’s a matter of following in the footsteps of the many wonderful conservationists who pioneered a global effort to highlight environmental issues impacting beyond our shorelines.

French explorer and film-maker Jacques Cousteau was amongst the first to put the spotlight on life below the surface in his book “Silent World” which was published almost 70 years ago. His invention of reliable diving equipment allowed millions of people to discover and understand the underwater world and along the way, draw attention to the fact that rubbish in our oceans does not just magically disappear when it sinks out of sight. Debris still litters the seabed from ships that sunk hundreds of years ago, and the problem of plastic pollution is growing bigger by the day.

British broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has spent most of his adult life sharing footage of vulnerable animals, many of which live in our oceans. The 93-year-old is a champion of the natural world, helping his audience to understand how everything we do on land has a flow on effect out at sea – trying to ensure even if it’s out of sight, it won’t be out of mind.

Across the Atlantic, renowned biologist, Dr Sylvia Earle, has made it her life work to learn about the sea and educate others about its struggles to stay healthy. Back in the 1950’s, when the scientific arena was dominated by men, she forged a career in marine biology and convinced people to pay attention to the colourful world beneath the waves. Her impressive credentials and passion for the ocean led to her being named as Time Magazine’s inaugural Hero for the Planet, 21 years ago.

Closer to home, talented photographer Valerie Taylor, has helped to turn the tide on treating the sea as merely a place to plunder for our own needs. She and her husband were heavily into spearfishing but chose to capture images instead when they saw how much they had depleted a local reef. They became fierce defenders of sharks, debunking many of the myths surrounding the most feared of the ocean creatures.

But along with the most recognisable faces in the crusade to sustain our greatest natural resource, is a legion of everyday people trying to make a difference. Every individual who removes rubbish from the beach, stands guard over turtle nests, reduces their plastic waste or speaks out against high density coastal development is helping to protect that part of our planet that creates most of the oxygen we breathe.

And we at Ocean Life Education will continue to do our bit, inspiring young minds to appreciate marine creatures though our interactive programs. Along with all the information we share to keep students well informed, we give even the youngest of participants the opportunity to create a bond with our animal ambassadors that may just lead to a life dedicated to saving our seas.

Behind the Scenes at Ocean Life Education

They say never work with children or animals – but Richard Coward is happy to do both. The director of Ocean Life Education has spent the past 13 years combining two of his passions – protecting marine life and inspiring young minds. But the time spent in classrooms, early learning centres and at community events makes up only a fraction of the working day for Richard and his team of educators.

The day usually starts before first light, checking on the crew of animal ambassadors to make sure they are healthy and raring to go on an adventure. The creatures are chosen on a rotational basis to ensure they receive rest days between their public appearances, minimising fatigue. Bags of oxygenated water are filled to provide a safe and comfortable space inside the travel tubs which will become their home for their time on the road.

Apart from the cargo of animals, the van is loaded with extra salt water, games, artefacts, toys and books depending on the programs booked for the day. Details are checked and notes read through to make sure the educator is as prepared as possible for the day ahead.
Then they join the line-up of commuters, criss-crossing South East Queensland as they slowly progress towards their first show of the day.

Unpacking the animals and exhibits is an artform in itself, with tubs carefully stacked to limit the numbers of trips back and forwards. We allow half an hour to set up, giving the animals new water so they can breathe easily while on display. We arrange them in a user-friendly way that allows enthusiastic little participants ample room to feel their way around our very tactile exhibits. Children wash their hands without soap to ensure no chemicals or sunscreen residue is passed onto our animals.

We normally present multiple sessions at any one location, quickly re-setting between shows to make it fresh for the new group. Pack up time takes another half hour as water is changed again to prepare the animals to move to a new location where we repeat the whole process.
When the final program is over and everything secured in the van, we head home to return our animal ambassadors to their tanks and begin the feeding regime. We have half a dozen different food sources to distribute to our creatures, their diets carefully regulated to mimic conditions in the wild.

On days when we don’t have displays to set up, we maintain our tanks, receiving 1,500 litres of ocean water every couple of weeks which we store and use when needed.
Even though our animals may only be on display for short periods in the day, a lot goes into keeping them happy and healthy. But we know all the cleaning, all the prep work and all the sitting in traffic is worth it if it helps the next generation learn to love, appreciate and protect our waterways.