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Strong bond formed with Christmas Island students

Posted on: August 28, 2015

Nazif ZainalabidenWhen students from remote Christmas Island dropped in to Hillarys to say hello, they were thrilled to watch our researchers carrying out vital fish-ageing work.

Community and Education Officer Kim Boothman visits Christmas Island up to four times a year to run school-based education activities with a focus on sustainability. The unexpected visit by the Year 7 students was a nice surprise for Kim, and shows how engaged the students are and how a good relationship has developed between Fisheries and youngsters from an island thousands of kilometres away.

‘It was awesome to see the Fisheries scientists at work and see something that Miss Kim had taught us about on Christmas Island,’ said student Olivia Francis.

The students, from Christmas Island District High School, and two of their teachers, were shown around the education and laboratory facilities by Kim and Project Officer Education Jessamy Ham, who runs the school activities at Hillarys.

They also loved the hands-on experience of examining slides of sectioned otoliths (ear bones) under microscopes to determine the age of fish.

Viewing the otolith slides at Hillarys was a great follow up to the most popular activity Kim has carried out with them on Christmas Island – fish dissections. They work in pairs to dissect fish and extract otoliths. They learn that fish can be aged by counting the growth rings on these bones, but don’t get the opportunity to see prepared slides of otoliths on Christmas Island.

Observing our staff at work in the otolith laboratory and visiting the learning lab at Hillarys were terrific ways to extend their learning beyond the classroom.

Kim will visit Christmas Island in November to continue the schools-based education program. This time, it will be her turn to visit the students.

The Department delivers fisheries community education, research and management programs to Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands – known as the Indian Ocean Territories (IOTs) – funded under a service delivery agreement with the Australian Government.

Feel free to email Kim if you would like to know more about the community education program at the IOTs.

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