Tag Archives: ocean incursions

Why the Ocean is a Great Theme for High Schools


High school education should be engaging, inspiring, and relevant. What better way to achieve these goals than by incorporating the fascinating world of the ocean into the curriculum? Take students on a journey beneath the waves, exploring the depths of marine biology, environmental science, and more. In this blog, we’ll explore why the ocean is a great theme for high schools, and we’ll dive deep into some captivating ocean-themed lesson ideas.

The ocean covers more than 70% of our planet, making it a critical part of our global ecosystem. Teaching about the ocean connects students to real-world issues like climate change, biodiversity, and conservation. Using the ocean as a theme we bring real-world relevance to learning. This is particulary possible where we are based in South East Queensland, as we can dive deep into local case studies such as the Great Barrier Reef and the annual humpback whale migration.

Why Teach with an Ocean Theme?

There are a number of reasons why teaching with an ocean theme benefits students’ learning. These include…

Marine Biology Careers

Inspiring STEM Education: It offers hands-on opportunities for scientific inquiry and exploration, sparking students’ interest in further study and STEM careers.

Environmental Stewardship: By studying the ocean and its challenges, students develop a sense of environmental responsibility. They learn about the importance of protecting our oceans and become more conscious of their ecological footprint. Nurturing Ocean Stewards.

Cross-subject Learning: Ocean-themed lessons naturally integrate various subjects, such as science and geography. This interdisciplinary approach enriches students’ understanding and helps them see the connections between different fields of study.

 Ocean Themed Lesson Ideas

Below are some great lesson ideas which may be supported by Ocean Life Education incursions or excursions.

Classification – Exploring the Diversity of Life

Uncover the vast range of marine species that inhabit the ocean and their unique characteristics. StudentsClassifying Humpback Whales learn about why and how we classify and order species, enhancing understanding of the diversity of the underwater world and discovering similarities with our own, all while gaining hands-on experience with our captivating live animal team – turtles, an epaulette shark, sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers.

Follow up: Students can explore marine biodiversity and dive into the incredible diversity of life in the ocean. From microscopic plankton to magnificent whales, students can research and present on different marine species.


Unravelling Energy Flows: Food Chains, Food Webs, and Ecosystems

Students explore food chains and food webs, delving deep into the fascinating relationships of who consumes whom within an ecosystem and how energy flows. Within each ecosystem, every organism occupies a distinct trophic level or position in the food chain or web. We explore the trophic pyramid, spanning from producers to primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers, and even apex predators, all the way down to the vital decomposers. This lesson also touches on the concept of the interdependence of species.

Follow up: Students can choose a marine species of their choice and create a detailed food web infographic.

Human Impact on the Ocean – Ocean Pollution & Conservation fast fashion ocean dump

Examine the profound influence of human activities on our oceans, including plastic pollution, overfishing, and oil spills. Understand how our actions have reshaped these vital ecosystems and learn about the strategies and solutions needed to protect our marine environment for future generations. As our society has expanded and evolved, the repercussions of our actions have rippled through ecosystems, biodiversity, climate patterns, and more.

Follow up: Discuss local conservation efforts and solutions and encourage students to brainstorm ways they can contribute to ocean protection.

Read our blog: Nurturing Ocean Stewards.

Investigate Adaptation – Exploring the Extraordinary Evolution of Marine Life

We journey into the world of marine organisms and their remarkable ability to evolve and adapt to their ever-changing environment, ensuring their survival. We highlight specific adaptations like camouflage and students learn about the incredible survival strategies that have allowed creatures to thrive in some of the ocean’s most challenging habitats.

Follow up: Students apply their learning to an ocean animal of choice and examine how it has adapted to its environment.


Hands-On Learning and Field Trips

To truly immerse students in ocean-themed curriculum topics, consider incorporating hands-on learning experiences and field trips: Ocean themed field trips

Ocean Life Incursion: Our programs are tailored to the curriculum and offer an up-close look at marine life and ecosystems in an interactive manner.

Ocean life Education Excursions: Where proximity permits, we take students to the coastline to examine topics such as biodiversity and ecosystems, adaptation and human impact.

Beach Cleanups: Organize school beach cleanup events to teach students about the impact of plastic pollution on coastal environments and wildlife.

Guest Speakers: Invite marine scientists, conservationists, or local experts to speak to your class about their work and research in the field of marine science.

Link to blog: How to get Involved in a SE Queensland Beach Clean


Bring Local Real-World Relevance to Learning Humback Whale Teaching Resources

In Queensland, Australia, The Great Barrier is an excellent example to use as a basis for studying key curriculum themes, connecting students to real-world issues like climate change, biodiversity and ecosystems, and conservation. In addition, we are incredibly lucky to have over twenty thousand humpback whales migrate along our coast each year. This incredible spectacle can be used to inspire kids and for case studies covering a wide range of curriculum themes.

Teaching curriculum topics with an ocean theme not only engages high school students but also empowers them to become informed and environmentally conscious global citizens. Through interdisciplinary lessons, hands-on experiences, and a focus on local real-world issues, educators can inspire the next generation of scientists, conservationists, and ocean enthusiasts. So, take the plunge and let the ocean be your classroom—it’s a journey worth exploring!


Other Useful links

Ocean Life Education Programs & EventsOcean High School Programs




Local Conservation Groups

Or Brisbane

Other organisers…

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.