Tag Archives: Ocean Life Education

Bringing Nature into the Classroom

 

“Bringing nature into the classroom can kindle a fascination and passion for the diversity of life on earth and motivate a sense of responsibility to safeguard it”,

Sir David Attenborough.

 

Ocean Life Education’s Director of Education, Richard Coward, is a firm believer that education is the key to protecting the ocean. So, Richard has spent the past 14 years visiting schools, early learning centres and community events, passionately educating and inspiring young minds to feel a responsibility to protect the our seas.

“Our goal is to educate Australians about how our lives are interconnected with our oceans and to inspire them to feel a responsibility to take action to protect them”, Richard Coward, Director of Education, Ocean Life Education.

 

A Passion for Protecting the Ocean

Ocean Life Education was set up in 2006 by Director of Education and Marine Biologist, Richard Coward. Richard studied Marine Ecology at Queensland’s Griffith University and commenced his career running Sunshine Coast’s Underwater World education programs and was later promoted to Curator of Fishes.

Richard went on to work on the creation of a new aquarium in South Korea. Whilst diving in the ocean, he was astonished by the complete lack of marine life. This was the first time he had experienced first-hand the devastating consequences of human impact caused by over-fishing. This education inspired him to take action. Richard saw this as a wakeup call and was determined this was not going to be allowed to happen in Australia. Thus, his passion for protecting the ocean was born.

Richard’s career went off down many paths: managing exhibits in aquariums worldwide and working with sharks, seals, penguins, turtles, sea jellies, fish, octopus, and invertebrates, to name a few.  He has been involved in research projects and breeding programs as well as whale rescue and his knowledge has frequently been reported on television, including a whole feature on the Totally Wild television show. Throughout all this, promoting conservation has always been at the heart of what he does.

 

Taking the Ocean into the Classroom

Richard soon realised that educating future generations was the key to them understanding why the ocean is so important to us and inspiring them to take action to protect it. “You protect what you love”, he quotes.

But many children were unable to get to the ocean or even to an aquarium to experience ocean life first-hand, so the idea of taking the ocean to the classroom was hatched and Ocean Life Education was born.

 

Our Programs & Marine Educators

Since 2006, Ocean Life Education has promoted the protection of our oceans to hundreds and thousands of Australians throughout Queensland and New South Wales. Our aim is to bring the sea to the community or classroom.  Marine educators arrive with live marine animals, fascinating artefacts, games and resources and students get a hands-on experience interacting with the animals. They hopefully finish off knowledgeable and inspired to want to protect the ocean and passionate to tell their friends and families why they should do the same.

                       

Our Programs

Early Learning – Ocean Discovery Program https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/programs/early-learning/

Primary – Curriculum based and tailored themes and activities https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/programs/primary-schools/

Holiday Programs (OSHC) – Human Impact, Sharks, Weird & Wonderful https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/programs/holiday-program/

High School – Curriculum based and tailored themes and activities https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/programs/high-school/

Events – live marine displays, beach walks, lectures, workshops (tailored to requirement) https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/programs/events/

 

Further reading

For more information about what we can all do to protect the ocean, check out our blog:

https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/how-can-i-protect-the-ocean/

 

Hope to see you soon!

 

Shoreline Show Stoppers

Every winter, anyone along the East Coast of Australia gets a front row seat for one of nature’s most spectacular shows.

The stars are humpback whales – massive marine mammals that like to steal the limelight.  These traveller performers drop by on their 25,000 kilometre round trip between Antarctica and their breeding grounds in the tropics.

These acrobatic animals are definite crowd pleasers – playing to an appreciative audience….

Just the sight of a spout is enough to cause a commotion…and little wonder.  After holding their breath for twenty minutes, humpbacks can exhale several metres into the air…..

But it’s really just the warm up – the opening act can be pectoral fin slaps…. When their five metre long appendages slam onto the ocean surface – a wakeup call for anyone close by.

Tail slaps are another great way to grab attention. One is never enough.  It’s an opportunity to show off their personal fluke pattern – the best way to identify a humpback….

If they sense they’re losing their audience, the whales can opt for a spy hop – raising their head out of the water to assess the world around them….

But the absolute shop stopper is the full body breach – when up to 30 tonnes of mammal is launched into the air and slams back down.  The impact is phenomenal – seen and heard from kilometres away.

There’s lots of different theories as to why whales perform this manoeuvre – some feel it’s a way to communicate with other humpbacks close by; others believe it’s like a giant stretch after a long rest – a signal they’re about to get active again.

Either way its unforgettable – and can only be topped if there’s an understudy in tow.  Young calves accompany their mothers on the trip back south, eager to try out their performance skills as well.

At just five metres long, they’re only a fraction of their Mum’s size but still capable of making their presence felt.  Drinking 400 litres of milk a day, these youngsters grow quickly and by this time next year will be ready to go solo.

In a final bow to the crowd, the whales lift their tails and disappear from stage – diving deep and leaving the audience wanting more, with no indication where and when their next performance will be.

Even if you miss the show, you can learn more about these magnificent animals in one of Ocean Life Education’s Marine Mammal presentations.  Click here for more details.

Have Tank will Travel

Usually our sea animals bask in the 5 star luxury of their home tanks on the Sunshine Coast, where everything is carefully monitored to create an optimum environment, but when they hit the road to educate our next generation of ocean lovers, things get a little more tricky.

Our touch tanks are a home away from home for our animal ambassadors and we work hard to ensure things are as stress free as possible while they play a vital role in helping children understand and appreciate the aquatic world.

They travel all over Brisbane and the rest of South East Queensland, visiting early learning centres, schools and shopping centres, giving youngsters the opportunity to get up close and personal with these exotic creatures.

Under careful supervision, children are able to gently interact with our sea stars, sea cucumbers and spiny urchins, using our one finger touch policy that ensures our animals remain relatively undisturbed while cocooned in their cases.

To protect both animal and young enthusiast, our baby sharks are carefully contained in see through containers which allow for thorough inspection without causing damage.

Likewise, the colourful tropical sea cucumbers have such delicate feeding tentacles, they need to be kept clear of probing fingers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9VrClr6maY

But the fresh water turtles are only too willing to subject themselves to some soothing shell massage, all in the name of fostering a greater human/animal relationship.

We limit the amount of time our animal ambassadors spend away from their homes, rotating our starfish, cucumbers, urchins, sharks and turtles to make sure they are well rested and fed before embarking on their next mission to help save the oceans.

 

Marine Biologist for a Day

Over the past few years, hundreds of primary schoolers have enjoyed our holiday sessions that inspire them to care for the ocean – now it’s time for the high schoolers to get in on the action.

Due to popular demand, our Marine Biologist for a Day program has been adapted to cater for an older audience who want a more in depth look at the world of marine science.

Students will have the chance to examine in detail our impact on the ocean including environmental stress on coral reef systems, water acidification and plastic pollution.  We will discuss a wide range of ideas on how to better care for the health of our seas.

The aim of the program is to making learning fun and relevant, examining animal classification to discover how each creature fits into the aquatic world.

The program will be very interactive, with students observing the dissection of a dead fish to reveal the organ make-up and development of a mullet.

And our most popular feature will still be included – the chance to gently touch our living sea creatures – an opportunity that never gets old at any age!

This program will provide a valuable insight to the workings of the aquatic world for any high schooler who has a passion for the ocean or is considering a career in marine sciences.

But we haven’t forgotten the younger students – our classic Marine Biologist for a Day will still be running in school holidays – we’re just expanding the program to grow with your kids.

For more details check out https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/programs/marine-biologist-for-a-day/