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Our future scientists!

Posted on: November 29, 2017

Albany SHS Marine Science students presented the results of their on-going research projects to Fisheries staff at Hillarys today. Students from years 8 – 10 presented on a range of topics including:

  • The abundance and distribution of surf clams in the Albany Region.
  • A comparison of coastal saltmarsh flora in Princess Royal and Oyster harbours.
  • The settlement of native flat oysters and other invertebrates in Princess Royal and Oyster harbours.
  • Five years of investigating the erosion and deposition of sand at Middleton beach.
  • The abundance and distribution of stingrays, stingarees, fiddler rays and shovelnose rays in Princess Royal and Oyster harbours.

The students’ research assists Fisheries staff as well as other government agencies (such as Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions) with data collection and provides the students with experience in scientific methodology.

Check out the Intertidal Investigation and Getting to Know Your Reef Lesson Plans for some ideas on conducting your own field investigations with your students.

Celebrate Book Week under the sea!

Posted on: August 24, 2017

This week is Children’s Book Week, with the theme ‘Escape to Everywhere’. Join one of our favourite fish in the sea, the Rainbow Fish, on a journey to discover the deep sea in our Lesson Plan: Rainbow Fish – Ocean Zones.

In Activity 1, students share in a reading of the Marcus Pfister book Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea. Students then engage in a discussion about the various creatures they encounter in the story and the adaptations that they have that enable them to inhabit the deep ocean.

In the second activity, students get to create a tasty model of the different zones of the ocean. Using jellies of various flavours (and colours), they will create a model to show the deep ocean zones – the mesopelagic zone and epipelagic zones of the ocean, and the creatures that exists in these zones. Want to create a different marine habitat instead? Try our suggestions for creating an edible coral reef or seagrass habitat and share them with us on Facebook!

Thursday 8 June is World Oceans Day

Posted on: June 8, 2017

With over 12,800 kilometres of coastline, Western Australia has a unique marine environment. Celebrate ‘World Oceans Day’ by learning something new about our very own marine environment. Here are some of our suggestions:

Leeuwin Current

One of the most significant drivers of our marine environment is the Leeuwin Current, the longest boundary current in the world, pushing a great flow of tropical water southwards along the edge of the WA continental shelf. The current plays an important role in the spawning and distribution of coral as well as that of other tropical organisms. It has a major impact on the life cycle of the western rock lobster and in the distribution of seagrass and algae, sea birds and finfish stocks.


There are a myriad of habitats in Western Australia – from the mud flats and mangroves in the north; the spectacular corals of Ningaloo Reef and the Abrolhos Islands; the amazing seagrass meadows of Shark Bay; the limestone reefs of the west coast; to the granite boulders of the south coast.

Whale shark

The largest fish in the sea visits Western Australian waters each year. Whale sharks are famous for their annual gathering at Ningaloo Reef, but outside these waters very little is known about this threatened species.

Food chains and webs

In order to survive, every living organism needs some form of energy (food). A food chain is a simple representation of the feeding relationships between species within a habitat or ecosystem. A food web is a number of interconnected food chains showing the flow of energy and matter through an ecosystem.

Did you know? The largest fish in the sea feeds on some very tiny food!


Heading to the beach for the holidays?

Posted on: April 13, 2017

Whelk egg caseSchool holidays are imminent and many families head off to the beach during this time. Have you ever visited the beach and wondered about the things you find washed up?

You may be familiar with our Beachcombers Education Kit website, but have you seen the Species List?

Over the past few years, we’ve developed quite a library of photos of species we find washed up. These have been added to the Species List on the Beachcombers Education Kit website to provide you with additional images of species you may already be familiar with. In addition to this, we’re tagging the images with the bioregion you are most likely to find them in and are planning to add to our list with a variety of species from around the state, from our far north to the great south. Not all of these images have been added to the app however, so you will have to check out the website to see them.

The app has had an update with some introduced pests being added to it also. Keep a look out for these whenever you are in the aquatic environment and be sure to report any potential pests to FishWatch.

Looking for some beachcombing lessons to run in your classroom post holidays? Check this list out!

Community seminars on the south coast

Posted on: November 24, 2016

Fisherman holding a tagged pink snapperSeminars are being held in Albany and Esperance to inform interested community members of the results of the Department of Fisheries research report on the status of demersal scalefish stocks on the south coast.

The seminars, presented by Finfish Research Scientist Jeff Norris, will cover:

  • A summary of the results of the report “Status of inshore demersal scalefish stock on the south coast of Western Australia”
  • An update on the health of the populations of the four inshore demersal indicator species – Bight redfishblue morwongpink snapper and western blue groper; and
  • Some interesting facts about the biology of the indicator species, including the oldest fish ever aged in WA!

The work carried out included sampling both commercially and recreationally caught fish by collecting their ‘frames’ – the skeleton with head and guts intact.  The south coast fishing community’s donations to our Send Us Your Skeletons citizen science program contributed greatly to the success of the stock assessment.

The seminars will be held at the Albany Surf Lifesaving Club on 29 November and at the Esperance Bay Yacht Club on 30 November from 6.30 pm (for a 7.00 pm start) to 8.30 pm.  Light refreshments will be provided and copies of the research report will also be available on the night.

Find classroom resources relating to this stock assessment here!

Take part in the inaugural national Gone Fishing Day

Posted on: October 14, 2016

rec-fishing-01This Sunday, October 16th, is the first ever national Gone Fishing Day. More than 750,000 West Australian’s enjoy recreational fishing each year and Gone Fishing Day aims to encourage as many people as possible to participate in fishing.

While the need to have a licence to participate in some fishing activities has been relaxed for the day and the West Coast demersal scalefish closure has been delayed by 48 hours, everyone is reminded that all other normal fishing rules still apply, including all other existing closures.

To get your students ready for Gone Fishing Day, check out some of our recreational fishing lesson plans? Start with Planning a Safe Fishing Trip, where students learn about identifying the risks associated with recreational fishing and develop a safe fishing plan for a fishing excursion. Some of the factors they get to consider include weather, tides, personal safety, boating safety and rock fishing safety.

Having planned a safe fishing trip, students can also learn about the recreational fishing rules in the Fishing for the Future lesson plan. In Activity 1, students will learn how the Department of Fisheries manages our marine waters into four broad biological regions or ‘bioregions’. Armed with an understanding of the four bioregions, in Activity 3, students will learn to interpret recreational fishing information and practice applying size and bag limits to a ‘catch’, just in time for Gone Fishing Day!

For more information about the day including a big family fishing event in Perth organised by Recfishwest, visit the Gone Fishing Day website.

If you would like hard copy recreational fishing materials for use in your classroom, drop us line here.

Don’t Dump That Fish!

Posted on: August 24, 2016

Dont dump that fish feature imageAquatic pests and diseases are a significant threat to Western Australia’s precious oceans and rivers. The Department of Fisheries is leading the effort to prevent them arriving and establishing themselves in our waterways with a biosecurity program using cutting edge technology, and ground-breaking management and compliance strategies.

Many people may be unaware of the problems introduced fish species cause. Small, ornamental fish common in the freshwater aquarium trade cause big problems in our waterways as they flourish, breed and compete with native species. Many introduced species will thrive in our local waterways and become detrimental to native populations. Watch the Don’t Dump That Fish video and check out this recent news post that proves how the humble little goldfish can become a massive pest if released into our waterways.

You can use our new poster, Aquatic Invaders in Western Australia to learn more about some of the introduced species now calling WA waters home. (Please note – printed copies of this poster are not yet available).

Your students can be active in promoting the ‘Don’t Dump That Fish’ message throughout the school and/or local community. Ask them to design a poster, conduct an assembly or even create a video to raise awareness of the effects of introduced fish species in our rivers and their impacts on our native fish populations. Need some inspiration? Check out these entries from the 2015 Department of Parks and Wildlife and Department of Fisheries ‘Don’t Dump That Fish’ video competition.

Pests occur in the marine environment too – take a look at the Pest Control Lesson Plan to learn more!



What’s a BRUV?

Posted on: August 10, 2016

BRUVCelebrate National Science Week (13-21 August) with the Department of Fisheries and find out about our use of innovative Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) technology!

BRUV is a method of monitoring the marine environment using bait to attract fish into the field of view of a video camera. The number of fish, variety and distribution of species is recorded and later analysed. As well as being non-invasive, BRUVs can also be used in parts of the ocean difficult for traditional diver-based monitoring.

Visit the Department of Fisheries stand at the Perth Science Festival – 13-14 August – to view videos of the Perth Canyon, the Dunsborough and Bunbury artificial reefs and some of WA’s fascinating marine life.

More BRUV footage can be viewed at the Department of Fisheries YouTube Channel.

Celebrating SeaWeek on Cocos (Keeling) Islands – home of the hybrid fish

Posted on: September 7, 2015

Remote, wild and unique, Australia’s external territories of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are home to marine species found nowhere else in the world!

Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands lie directly in the middle of the Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Bioregion. These bioregions overlap in an area known as a suture zone, a rare phenomenon in the marine world. Discovery of this suture zone actually came about from the identification of 15 hybrid coral reef fish species; the largest number ever found in the marine environment!

A hybrid species occurs when closely related species mate and produce offspring. In the marine world, when a fish can’t find a member of the same species to mate with, it will mate with a member of a different, but similar, species instead; producing a hybrid species. At the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Eibl’s angelfish and the lemonpeel angelfish mate to produce a hybrid (as seen in the images).

Find out more about the uniqueness of Australia’s external territories of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in our In Depth – Indian Ocean Territories.

Kim Boothman, Community Education Officer for the Indian Ocean Territories, will be celebrating SeaWeek on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands where she will run school activities with the students from the local school.

Eibl's angelfish

Eibl’s angelfish

Lemonpeel angelfish

Lemonpeel angelfish

Hybrid Eibl's and Lemonpeel

Hybrid Eibl’s and Lemonpeel

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.


Rock lobster courtship before eggs!

Posted on: August 21, 2015

Western rock lobsters reach sexual maturity at 5-6 years of age. By this stage they are generally living in deeper water (> 20 m) and are about 80 mm in carapace length, which is a size that can be legally landed (kept).

Each year in May /June, mature female lobsters moult and produce long hairs (setae) attached to the pleopods (paddle-like swimming appendages) under their tails. Fertilised eggs attach to these hairs later that season.

WRL vision teaser image

Once females have hardened their shells and water temperatures have bottomed out (July/August), females begin to become receptive to male lobsters. From the little we know, male lobsters approach females with the aim of mating. Only when a female is receptive will she allow the male to copulate with her.  In this vision, it seems the female not only allows an approach from the male, but actively participates and appears to be the one approaching the male and climbing on top of him.

WRL-tar-spotAs the female slides off the male you can just see the dark spermatophoric mass (or tarspot, so called due to its colour) stuck to her abdomen. You can also see the enlarged right gonapod (the male has two of these reproductive organs, left and right) of the male which is used for the application of the spermatophoric mass. The mass is a combination of sperm and a cementing material. This material will protect the sperm until the female wishes to fertilise her eggs.

When the female feels it is the correct time to fertilise her eggs (this can be a few months after mating, usually in October) she will bend her tail in a similar fashion as in the video and use special hooks on the ends of her last pair of legs to scratch open the spermatophoric mass. The sperm are motile (can swim) in water and swim about under her closed tail while she extrudes sticky eggs onto the hairs (setae) under her tail.

Once fertilised, the eggs will remain attached to the setae for about 6–10 weeks (depending on water temperature – hotter means faster growth and shorter gestation). There, they will progress from orange in colour, as they are full of yolk, to dark grey, when the yolk is used up and the lobsters larvae (phyllosoma) can be seen through the egg case.

WRL-berried1  WRL-berried2

When ready the female shakes her tail and the eggs split open and the larvae drift off on a 9–11 month journey of the ocean, traveling up to 1500 km offshore, before they return as puerulus and settle along our coast-line to start their lives as lobsters.

WRL-larvae  puerulus

Females can mate and spawn multiple times within a spawning season (September – January), with smaller females appearing to only spawn once, while larger females can spawn up to three times. Females can re-mate with a male only a few days after fertilising a batch of eggs.

Depending on size, a female can produce over 1 million eggs in a single batch.

It’s the A-Z of ocean organisms in Western Australia!

Posted on: September 5, 2014

Ocean-alphabet-poster-feature-imageWith winter now behind us, you might have started thinking about trips to the beach again! If not, we’re certain you’re looking for resources for Term 4 or maybe you’re making a head start on your planning for 2015. To help with this, we’ve just released a new poster to the Marine WATERs collection – Ocean Alphabet. Check out the A-Z of marine organisms found in WA!

Looking for a way to use this new resource in the classroom? Why not create you own new version of Ocean Bingo.

Additional resources to complement the Ocean Alphabet poster will follow by the end of 2014!

Please note – printed copies of the Ocean Alphabet are not yet available.

Fishy Features

Posted on: May 6, 2014

Group of tropical fishIt’s Term 2 already and we’re ready to deliver our next Professional Learning session!

This terms session is showcasing the Department of Fisheries activity ‘Fishy Features’. Aimed at Year 5 – 12 teachers (and pre-service teachers), this session focuses on adaptations of fish. Come and learn about the functional, behavioural and structural adaptations that organisms in the marine environment exhibit to survive. We’ll be getting up close and personal with a variety of species of fish to study the differences in their structural adaptations.

We’ll also talk about how you could use this activity at school and look at some pre- and post- excursion resources. This session includes a range of hands-on and fun learning activities, take-away hard copy resources and a certificate of attendance.

Where: Western Australian Fisheries and Marine Research Laboratories
39 Northside Drive, Hillarys WA 6025

Date:   Thursday 15 May, 2014 (Week 3 Term 2)

Time:   4.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Registration from 3.45 pm

Registrations are essential. To book your place at this PL, please click here.

To find out more about our upcoming Professional Learning sessions, click here.

Australian Curriculum Outcomes: ACSSU043, ACSSU094, ACSSU111, ACSSU150, ACSSU175

Professional Learning in 2014

Posted on: January 3, 2014

Scientific-sandcastlesHappy New Year!  We hope you’re having a good break and are starting to think about new and exciting learning experiences for your class.

We know that many primary school teachers choose themes each term and a popular term 1 theme is the sea. With this in mind, our first Professional Learning session for 2014 is aimed at Kindergarten to Year 6 teachers and to get you inspired, we will be visiting the beach (hats and appropriate footwear are recommended!) 

In this session, we will discuss the Department of Fisheries activity Scientific Sandcastles – the logistics of how we get your class to the beach and what actually takes place in the activity. We’ll also talk about how you could use this activity at school, in the sandpit and look at some pre- and post- excursion resources also.

This session will take place on Thursday 20th February 2014 from 4.00pm – 5.30pm at the Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre – 39 Northside Drive, Hillarys. To book your place at this PL, click here.   

Something else also to keep in mind in term 1 is Seaweek, which runs from 1st – 9th March 2014. Seaweek is the Marine Education Society of Australasia’s major national public awareness campaign. To get you all ready to teach marine education in your classroom, we’re offering to come to your school during February and conduct a free professional learning session with your staff!

(The fine print – A minimum number of 10 participants is required for the Department of Fisheries to come to your school to run a free professional learning session. This offer is currently only open to Perth, WA, metropolitan schools. Session duration is 60 minutes and can be run after school hours. Places are limited and will be offered on a first come, first served basis.)

To express your interest in having a Department of Fisheries Community and Education team member come to your school to run a professional learning session, click here.

Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre Professional Learning

Posted on: October 17, 2013

NMDC-touchpoolIt’s the end of the year and you are probably all looking toward report writing and classroom clean-ups, however you may still have an end of year excursion to attend (or are still trying to plan one).  Come along to our last FREE professional learning session of 2013 to find out about excursions at the Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre (NMDC).

Aimed at primary teachers (and pre-service teachers), this session will detail how a primary school visit to the NMDC runs.  View all of our teaching spaces, find out where you can have lunch, and how we deal with large groups.  This session is particularly useful for teachers planning to bring large groups of students to find out how our rotations and concurrent activities work.

This session, as always, includes a range of hands-on and fun learning activities, take-away hard copy resources and a certificate of attendance.

This session takes place on Thursday 31st October at the Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre, 39 Northside Drive, Hillarys, WA.  Registration is from 3.45pm and the session will finish up by 5.30 pm.

Want to come along? Email your intention to attend to

If you are still trying to plan an end of year excursion, you’ll be thrilled to know that we do still have a few dates available at the NMDC.  Contact the education team on 9203 0112 to make a booking.

Plastic Free July

Posted on: June 28, 2013

Happy volunteers cleaning up between Lefthanders and Ellensbrook Photo: Lauren Scanlon

Happy volunteers cleaning up between Lefthanders and Ellensbrook.
Photo: Lauren Scanlon.

In case you haven’t heard, during the month of July there is a campaign to go plastic free. Plastic Free July is a great way to demonstrate with your students our society’s reliance on plastic products, while at the same time highlighting the damaging effects of plastics in our waterways and oceans. Let’s hear the four R’s of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle during July and beyond!

In readiness, we have given our Marine WATERs Un-Fantastic Plastic lesson plan a polish up by repairing a few dead links. It’s also good timing to promote another great learning resource produced by our good friends at Tangaroa Blue Foundation. They have recently released a brand new Tangaroa Blue Education Kit, examining one of the greatest threats facing the world’s oceans – marine debris.

Using an inquiry-based teaching and learning model, concepts of consumption, pollution and resolution are investigated with students. This develops an understanding that there is an interrelationship between the Earth’s environment and human activities.

Just like Marine WATERs, the materials are aligned with the Australian Curriculum Science learning area. They also go further into the cross-curricular priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culture, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, and sustainability.

Let’s all contribute to solutions for marine debris and become Clean Marine. Look out for registration details soon for the official 2013 WA Beach Cleanup Event on the 12-13th October and consider Adopting a Spot. If you and your students need some inspiration, why not check out Tangaroa Blues’s new YouTube video here.


Commercial Crayfish

Posted on: June 21, 2013

Rock lobster crate

Rock lobster batten pot

As prices for some grades of Western rock lobster tip over the $60 per kilo mark, we are proud to a release a brand new lesson plan investigating the management of this iconic commercial fishery in Western Australia.

The Western Rock Lobster Managed Fishery is historically Australia’s largest single species fishery and is the only fishery in the world that has been accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council as sustainable three times running – learn more here. Despite demonstrating world best practice, the fishery has experienced a tumultuous period of record low recruitment of young lobsters since 2007 while the management of the fishery has also been transformed from gear-based to a quota-based.

The Commercial Crayfish lesson plan has been designed for year 11–12 students and focuses on the current quota management regime and the research program undertaken that helps predict future lobster catches. The lesson plans comes with an added bonus of a Western rock lobster life cycle poster that students can use to gain a better understanding of lobster biology in Activity 1, along with our existing fact sheet.

In Activity 2, students assume the role of a Managed Fishery Licence holder and complete a Catch Disposal Record just like a real fishing operation! In Activity 3, students will the learn about the research program used to predict future catches and work with a data set obtained from our sampling station at Seven-Mile Beach near Dongara.

Like a plated dish of half-shell crayfish mornay… Bon appetite! (Click here)

Australian Curriculum Outcomes: ACSIS145, ACSHE136, ACSIS234, ACSSU176, ACSHE157, ACSHE160, ACSIS169, ACSHE194, ACSIS199, ACSIS203.

What’s My Age Again?

Posted on: April 12, 2013

Cake - Chelseas Culinary Creations

Cake made by Chelseas Culinary Creations

Guess who just had a birthday? We are proud to announce that Marine WATERs (Western Australian Teacher Education Resources) turned two years old last week, so we thought it was a good opportunity to say thanks to everyone for their support and positive feedback. We have been truly amazed with the response from teachers and educators – with over 2,500 registered users accessing our resources, including people from all over Australia and around the world. Of course, this initiative would not have been possible without the support of Woodside Energy.

In two years we have been able to develop 47 comprehensive curriculum-linked lesson plans for primary and secondary levels, plus an array of fact sheets, presentations and other resource materials. In fact, things got a little cluttered towards the end of last year so we hope you have been enjoying our website upgrade to help you locate resources quickly and easily. Being able to search for the Australian Curriculum code specific to the outcomes for the year level you teach was just one of the clever features rolled out with the facelift.

For our Western Australian registered users we have developed Teacher Guides on Marine WATERs. These guides assist those teachers taking advantage of our Department of Fisheries school excursions at Hillarys or incursions with some of our regional programs. The teacher guides demonstrate how Marine WATERs resources should be incorporated into your teaching-learning program prior to and after a Department of Fisheries led activity.

It wouldn’t be a Marine WATERs blog without profiling one of our favourite lesson plans and it’s very obvious this time round – What’s My Age Again? In this lesson plan students learn how fisheries management agencies monitor the health of fish stock using fish otoliths, also known as ear stones. Similar to the growth rings of a tree, these otoliths are used to help age fish. We have developed two presentations that can be used with your students to ‘age’ fish without even leaving the classroom! The Department of Fisheries also runs a community campaign called Send Us Your Skeletons, asking fishers to donate the fish frames of particular species to our research division so that they can extract otoliths, age fish and monitor the health of some of Western Australia’s favourite fish species. What’s My Again? not only deals with real science, students can also assume the role of a ‘citizen scientist’ next time they head out fishing.

Thanks again everyone and we always like to hear how you are using our Marine WATERs resources and how they benefit you and your students, so please don’t be shy and drop us a line at

Australian Curriculum Outcomes: ACELY1725, ACELY1736, ACELY1746, ACELY1756, ACMSP169, ACMSP206, ACMSP284, ACSHE120, ACSHE227, ACSHE228, ACSHE230, ACSIS103, ACSIS107,ACSIS129, ACSIS139, ACSIS145, ACSIS169, ACSIS221, ACSIS232


Make the most of your incursion or excursion

Posted on: February 19, 2013

excursion-If you’ve booked a Department of Fisheries activity for 2013 already and are looking for additional resources to complement your incursion or excursion, our latest Marine WATERs release, teacher guides, are just for you.

Teacher guides are available for our most popular activities and WACE courses of study.  The activity teacher guides provide you with suggestions for pre and post-excursion learning opportunities. WACE courses of study teacher guides offer suggested lesson plans and a range of additional resources.

Free Professional Learning Session

Posted on: February 8, 2013

Plankton collector net in Shark Bay.

Plankton collector net in Shark Bay.

Welcome back to term 1.  We hope you all had an enjoyable break and have returned to school feeling fresh and ready to implement some new ideas.  This year we hope to inspire you with some great new ideas in our professional learning sessions.  Our first session kicks off on Thursday 21st February at 3.45pm at the Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre.

In this session we’ll be covering the excursion activity Science of Sampling.  In this activity, students learn about a range of sampling techniques used by Department of Fisheries research scientists to collect information about various fisheries in Western Australia.

Follow this activity up in the classroom with the Marine WATERs Lesson Plans: How Many Fish in the Sea? and Manage a Fishery.  Learn how managing a jaffafish fishery relates to managing fisheries in the real world.

As always, light refreshments will be served at 3.45pm and hard copy resources will be provided on the day also.

To register your interest in this professional learning session, click here.

To find out about our future planned sessions this year, click here.

If you’re finding the day or time prohibitive to attending, remember you can pull together a group of 10 or more teachers and we will come to your school and complete a professional learning session with you, and it’s still free!  To organise a Professional Learning session at your school, send us an email.


What do you do in a heat wave?

Posted on: December 28, 2012

Goose barnacles

Goose barnacles. Photo by Gilbert Stokman.

We’ve had a few rather warm days this week so no doubt you’ve either been seeking comfort in air conditioning, or hitting the beach. The mornings have been great for getting out on the water and snorkelling (plus they have the added bonus of not being quite so hot, and the UV rating is a little lower). If you’ve stuck your mask in the water recently, or intend to in the coming days/weeks, our latest lesson plan release may assist you with identifying what you observe.

Our latest release is Meet the Cast and is a sequel to the Lesson Plan: Who Lives Where? which looked at the variety of marine habitats in WA. In Meet the Cast, we look at the invertebrate inhabitants of the marine environment. You may also like to check out the Beachcombers Field Guide to assist in your identification of species also. If you have a camera at the beach, or better yet, underwater with you, and come across anything really cool that you’re happy to share with us (and happy for us to use in future resources), email it to us. Don’t forget to log any unusual sightings on the Redmap website also (refer to the 14 December 2012 blog).

If you’re planning your teaching and learning program for term 1 next year, there are a variety of invertebrate posters available for use with the Lesson Plan: Meet the Cast. You can request hard copies of the posters here.

Happy snorkelling, stay cool and remember to always be sunsmart!     


Tied Up in Knots

Posted on: December 21, 2012

hookIt’s that awkward time of the year, the kids are over Christmas shopping, they’re bored, and Christmas is another 4 days away! 

If you’re planning a holiday fishing trip, or just planning to send the kids to the beach to go fishing in January, keep them occupied this weekend by getting them to practice their knot tying.

In the background information of the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Hook, Line and Sinker, there are step by step instructions for tying a locked half blood knot and a uni knot.  To save your furniture (and your kids fingers) from hooks, give them a paperclip to practice with to being with.

Download the Get Hooked on Fishing brochure and the kids can read up on making up rigs to target specific species including whiting, tailor, skippy, herring and Australian salmon.

We wish you all the best for the festive season, and enjoy the fishing (sustainably) this holiday period.

Changing Marine Postcodes

Posted on: December 14, 2012

Baldchin groper

Baldchin groper.

As the end of the year approaches many of us are on the move catching up with family and friends and embarking on travels over the summer break.

Spare a thought for our marine species that are potentially changing where they live in search of cooler waters, as seas become warmer with a changing climate.

The Redmap Australia website, also known as the ‘Range Extension Database and Mapping’ project was launched last week and invites potentially thousands of citizen scientists to contribute data that can help reveal whether fish are ‘shifting their range’.

We are seeking the assistance of a fishers and divers to report sightings and upload photos of marine life that aren’t usually found at their local fishing, diving and swimming  spots.

Redmap Australia is interested in reports of any marine life deemed uncommon along your particular stretch of the coast; and not just fish but also turtles, rays, lobsters, corals, seaweeds, urchins and prawns.  Photos are reviewed by a network of marine scientists around the country to verify the species identity and ensure high-quality data. Redmap Australia aims to become a continental-scale monitoring program along Australia’s vast coastline to help track marine range shifts; but also to engage Australians with marine issues using their own data.

Devotees of our lesson plan Acid Test may recall some links to the Redmap website. At the time we compiled the materials relating to ocean acidification, the Redmap project was only running in Tasmania by our enthusiastic colleagues at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies and University of Tasmania. Fast forward nearly two years and the Department of Fisheries is now the lead institute for Redmap in Western Australia so expect to see some more climate related teacher resources in 2013.

Each Redmap sighting is a piece in a puzzle that over time will reveal to the community, scientists and industry which species or regions may be experiencing greater changes in marine distributions. The sooner Australian fishers, divers and the public help gather this information, the better.  Some seas along the coast of Australia are warming at 3 to 4 times the global average.  Turning up the heat tends to stress marine ecosystems and species, and can impact fish growth, reproduction and behaviour.

Everyone can get involved by becoming a Redmap Australia registered member, signing up for our quarterly newsletter, liking us on Facebook, and importantly logging unusual marine animals at

Contribution to Redmap is easy as Spot, Log and Map.

Redmap is a large collaborative project led by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania, and involves the University of Newscastle, James Cook University, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), Museum Victoria, Department of Fisheries Western Australia, the University of Adelaide and the South East Australia Program (SEAP).  The expansion of Redmap nationally was made possible with generous funding from an Australian Government Inspiring Australia grant, the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). Redmap also receives support from Mures Tasmania and many fishing, diving and community groups around the country.

Spot the Sea Monkey!

Posted on: December 10, 2012


It’s that time of the year where you’re either planning for next year, thinking about planning for next year, and/or looking for new and exciting resources to use in your teaching and learning programme. As a result, we’re still releasing new lesson plans to help inspire you!

Our latest lesson plan release is Amazing Artemia. You can use the information provided in the Teacher Background Information to teach your students about Artemia and Appendix 1 to set up your own Artemia hatcheries in your own classroom.

In Activity 3: Speedy Shrimps, students will attempt to race their Artemia to determine if one sex is faster than the other.  You could also try changing variables to see if they affect the speed of the Artemia – e.g. using cold water or putting a light at one end of the test tube. Conduct a discussion with your students to brainstorm other variables.

Australian Curriculum outcomes: ACELA1430, ACELA1453, ACELA1470, ACELA1484,  ACELA1498, ACELA1512, ACELA1786, ACELY1648, ACELY1658, ACELY1668, ACELY1688, ACELY1784, ACELY1788, ACELY1789, ACELY1792, ACELY1796, ACSIS053, ACSIS064, ACSIS124, ACSIS215, ACSIS216, ACSIS218, ACSIS221, ACSIS231, ACSIS232, ACSSU017, ACSSU030, ACSSU043, ACSSU072

The nuisance of the ocean

Posted on: November 27, 2012

Common blowfish

The common blowfish is often regarded as a nuisance to fishers, gobbling bait before any other species can get near it.  However, these fish are native to Western Australia (and therefore are not pests) and play an important role in keeping our marine ecosystems clean by eating waste bait and berley.

Common blowfish are found along the lower west coast of WA but also have a northern relative.  The northwest blowfish inhabits northern Australian waters but is also occasionally seen off the lower west coast as far south as Cape Naturaliste. Northwest blowfish are significantly larger than the common blowfish, reaching a maximum of 88 cm in length, compared to the common blowfish at 22 cm.

Both species of blowfish contain a highly lethal toxin so they are not generally targeted by fishers– however they still have a bag limit. Visit the Department of Fisheries website to find out more about bag and size limits in your area. To learn more about other ways we manage recreational fisheries in Western Australia, see the Marine WATERs lesson plan: Fishing for the Future.  

Fishers are reminded not to leave blowfish to die on beaches and jetties as pets have died from eating them.

Want to know more about this species or of the many other species found in Western Australia? See our extensive range of fact sheets.

The Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea

Posted on: November 23, 2012

Looking through the layers (jelly) activity.

Looking for something fun yet educational to do with your class in the last few weeks of school? Try our latest lesson plan release, Rainbow Fish: Ocean Zones.

In this lesson plan, you will engage your students in a shared reading of the Marcus Pfister book, Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea.  After the reading, engage students in a discussion about the organisms encountered in the story and their adaptations to survive the deep sea environment.  You could find other books about the deep sea to discover more about some of those animals.

In Activity 2, Looking through the layers, you will build a jelly model of the ocean with your students.  To build the deep ocean model, you’ll require three varieties of blue/purple jelly, as well as a variety of ‘organisms’ that inhabit the three layers of the ocean – these may include hundreds and thousands of plankton, mini M&M® ostracods, jelly snake squid and Chico deep sea fish.

Alternatively, you might like to try some of our suggestions to make a coral reef, sandy seabed or seagrass jelly model.

Whilst this lesson plan is aimed at K-2 students, I’m sure even the older years will enjoy Activity 2 and can relate it to their learning if you’ve been learning about a particular habitat or adaptations.

Australian Curriculum: ACELA1437, ACELY1646, ACELY1784, ACSSU002, ACELY1656, ACELY1788, ACELA1463, ACELY1666, ACELY1789, ACSSU017, ACSSU211

What a Pest!

Posted on: November 19, 2012

Asian paddle crab.

Recently, an Asian paddle crab was captured in the Swan River by a recreational fisherman.  This species is not native to Western Australia however has the potential to establish itself here and become a pest.  It has the potential to spread disease and out-compete native species like the iconic blue swimmer crab.  To find out more about this species, click here.

Did you know… in Western Australian waters, there are 60 known non-native marine species that have become established.  However not all marine species introduced to a new area become pests.  Some are unable to survive the conditions of their new environment, whilst others are unable to reproduce and establish a viable population.

Check out the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Pest Control to learn more about marine pests found in Western Australia.  In Activity 1, students will learn the difference between native and introduced species and will investigate the problems associated with introduced species in the marine environment.  You may wish to use the Fisheries Fact Sheet: Introduced Marine Species to learn more about introduced species in the marine environment.

In Activity 4, students will use their knowledge of a specific introduced species to design a wanted poster to inform the community to look out for and report any sightings of the species.  You may wish to discuss the Asian paddle crab example used by the Department of Fisheries with your students to assists them in their design.  If you would like to investigate introduced marine species in more detail with your students, you may request a copy of the Department of Fisheries publication, Introduced Marine Species in Western Australia here.

Once your students are well versed on marine pests, challenge them to complete our Pest Line-Up game.  In each frame, students will be presented with three possible suspects, of which, one is a marine pest.  Using the information provided, students will need to determine which suspect is the pest to move on.         

Sustainable shores

Posted on: November 9, 2012

Hillarys Boat Harbour

The weather is warming up, holidays are imminent and we’re starting to head to the coast again.  It’s time to consider the wider implications that our day-to-day activities have on the marine environment.  Have a look at our Sustainable Shores Lesson Plan to learn about the variety of interactions we have with the marine environment, the impact they have and how they can be managed.

In Activity 1 of this lesson plan, students will define the term sustainability and what it means to them.  They will also brainstorm the ways that we, humans, interact with the marine and coastal environment.  You could use the Marine WATERs Poster: A Balancing Act to stimulate discussion on this topic (click here to request a hard copy of this poster).  To extend your students thinking, ask them to create a T-chart of the interactions (or activities) that are likely to have a positive or neutral impact on the marine and coastal environment.  On the other side of their chart, ask them to list the interactions that will negatively impact on the marine and coastal environment.

In Activity 2, students will role play the position of a stakeholder in the marine and coastal environment in relation to a scenario involving the expansion of a marina.  You could of course, develop your own scenario with an issue pertinent to your local area also.

After students have discussed the pros and cons for the development (or other issue that you chose) in their stakeholder groups, you might ask them to write an exposition to further develop their point of view.  This piece of writing could then be used in their ‘stakeholder meeting’ role play.           

Marine WATERs has had a facelift!

Posted on: November 2, 2012

Are you an avid follower of Maine WATERs, or maybe it’s one of those resources on your ‘to-do’ list to check out.  In the last few weeks, Marine WATERs has been undergoing some changes and we’re extremely proud of the result that went live this week!  The web address is still the same –, so have a look at today.

On the homepage, you’ll notice a few things have moved around.  The general keyword search has moved to the left hand column with the other search filters.  We’ve almost finished linking the Australian Curriculum content descriptor codes to each of the lesson plans too so very soon you’ll be able to search for resources simply by inputting the code specific to the outcomes for the year level you teach … watch this space for updates on this search feature.  The blog now takes centre stage on the homepage, and we now have a feedback function on the bottom left hand corner.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on the functionality of the site.

One of the biggest improvements (we think) is found when you select one of the learning modules.  The resource types found in that module are listed across the top, and if you select one, e.g. presentations, you’ll be taken to the presentations found in that module.  You’ll also notice a fish hovering off to the right hand side of the page.  Click on it at any point and you’ll return to the top of that page.

We hope you find Marine WATERs even easier to use now and remember we’d love to hear your feedback!

Last Professional Learning Opportunity this year!

Posted on: October 29, 2012

Fishing for sustainability activity.

Our last Marine WATERs – Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre Professional Learning session is happening next Thursday, 1st November 2012 from 4.00pm – 6.00pm.  The theme is this terms session is human impacts and fisheries management.

Try out our school friendly version of fishing (no hooks or water required!) in our Fishing for Sustainability activity.  We’ll also be delving into the Marine WATERs Lesson Plans: Fishing for the Future, Hook, Line and Sinker, Planning a Safe Fishing Trip and Manage a Fishery.

Aimed at teachers of Year 2 – 10 students, this session will involve hands on activity sessions and take away resources.

To register your interest in this session, click here.

Who lives where?

Posted on: October 15, 2012

Yallingup Lagoon

We know that come term four, you’re tired and your students are tired – so in an attempt to keep you inspired for at least another week, we’ve released a new lesson plan entitled ‘Who Lives Where?’ This lesson plan also has an associated Powerpoint Presentation: Who Lives There?  

The main activity within the lesson plan does involve a fair amount of reading and writing, however you could adapt it to suit even year 1’s simply by using the Powerpoint Presentation and engaging them in a class discussion – you’ll be amazed how much they can tell you about the different habitats and organisms found in the marine environment.

If you’re teaching older primary students, they will use a range of posters and articles to investigate some of the habitats that exist in the marine environment in WA. (To request a physical copy of the posters required for this lesson, click here.)  You could engage your students in discussions about the types of organisms each habitat supports and the adaptations those organisms might have to survive that environment.

You could then link this into a discussion about food chains that might exist in that habitat type also. Check out the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Marine Connections for some background information on food chains and webs!

ACSSU211, ACSSU043, ACSSU094, ACSSU112, ACELY1702, ACELY1712

Fish or not?

Posted on: October 8, 2012

Last week we promoted Marine WATERs to the rest of the country at the biennial Australian Association for Environmental Education Conference. In a workshop entitled ‘Marine WATERs: Dive into the underwater world without leaving the classroom’ educators were asked to think of types of fish – i.e. those organisms technically classified as fish – and then separate them from those things that are colloquially termed ‘fish’ that may not be fish at all … as is the case with silverfish, an answer from one quick educator!

You could conduct a similar activity with your students.  Brainstorm as a class what characteristics make a fish, a fish! You could use the Teacher Background Information in the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: What’s a Fish to assist in your discussion. Then brainstorm with your students, organisms that are colloquially termed ‘fish’. These may include organisms both in and out of the marine environment (as I discovered last week!). Finally, ask students to research each of the organisms to discover why they are not technically classified as fish – what characteristics of fish are they missing?


The bottom dwellers

Posted on: September 25, 2012

As the weather begins to warm up and you think to throw a line in the water again, keep in mind that some of the State’s most prized fish have a two-month fishing closure in the West Coast Bioregion; an area that runs from Black Point (east of Augusta) to the Zuytdorp Cliffs (north of Kalbarri).  

These highly sought after fish, which includes pink snapper, dhufish and baldchin groper, are known as demersal scalefish (fish that live on or near the sea floor). 

Recent research into these species revealed they were being overfished and that catches needed to be reduced by at least 50 per cent to ensure their long-term sustainability.  These fish generally live for a long time, they grow slowly and, in some species, reproduce in relatively low numbers.  To find out more about what makes this group so susceptible to overfishing, download our poster.

To help manage these species, a two-month fishing closure is in place in the West Coast Bioregion from 15 October – 15 December (inclusive).  Once the fishery reopens on 16 December, bag, size limits and additional regulations apply.  See the Recreational Fishing Information – West Coast Bioregion at for the most up to date information.

Save our Seagrasses

Posted on: September 21, 2012

Seagrass meadow.

As we continue our study of Western Australia’s extraordinary biodiversity, this week we look at seagrasses and the ecosystems that they play a role in.  You could begin your study by comparing seaweeds and seagrasses – are they different and how?  The Fisheries Fact Sheets: Seagrasses and Algae will assist you with this.  Put simply, seagrasses are a flowering plant (angiosperm) adapted for survival in salt water.  Algae, are not plants at all!

Following this introduction, work your way through one of the newest additions to Marine WATERs – Habitat Protectors.  In this lesson plan, students will investigate the role seagrass meadows play in providing an important nearshore habitat for marine organisms.  This lesson plan also has an associated Powerpoint Presentation.  In activity 1, students will consider the value of seagrasses to the ecosystem and explore the threats towards them.  They will use this information to develop an advertising campaign to educate and inform people of the threats to seagrasses and what they can do to minimise these threats.

Did you know? The largest and most diverse seagrass meadows in the world are found in Western Australia.  There are an astounding 27 species found in WA, covering an area estimated to be 20,000 square kilometres.

You may like to then look at an ecosystem involving seagrasses in more detail.  In the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Marine Connections, students will study food chains and food webs and investigate in detail a Shark Bay food web.  Shark Bay has the second highest diversity of seagrasses in WA with 12 species, following the south west of the state with 27 species! 

Discovering Biodiversity

Posted on: September 17, 2012

As you may already be aware, September is biodiversity month, in which we promote the importance of protecting, conserving and improving biodiversity both within Australia and across the world. 

This week, why not investigate the myriad of living habitats that exist in Western Australia. You can download posters on mangroves (and check out last month’s blog), coral reefs, seagrasses and limestone reefs from Marine WATERs to assist with your studies. A limited number of hard copies of these posters are available – email us at to request copies. 

Now you may think that limestone is not a living habitat, and technically you would be right, but it does support an amazing diversity of life on top of, and around it. Check out the Marine WATERs Lesson Plans: Inhabiting Intertidal Rocky Shores and Excursion: Intertidal Investigation to find out more.

September is Biodiversity month!

Posted on: September 8, 2012

Biodiversity month is held in September every year and is an initiative of the Australian government. It aims to promote the importance of protecting, conserving and improving biodiversity both within Australia and across the world.

Biodiversity is described as ‘the variety of living things’.

Did you know? … Australia is one of only seventeen countries  described as being ‘megadiverse’. These countries have less than 10% of the global surface but support more than 70% of the biological diversity on earth.

The marine environment is home to thousands of marine species, some of which are unique to Australia and all of which contribute to making Australia the most biodiversity-rich developed country in the world.

To find out more about biodiversity month, visit

Begin your studies of biodiversity in the marine environment in Western Australia by studying the fish species found in each of the bioregions of WA using the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Fishing for the Future. A ‘bioregion’ refers to a region defined by common oceanographic characteristics in its marine environment. The Department of Fisheries has divided the vast Western Australian coastline into four bioregions – the North Coast, Gascoyne Coast, West Coast and South Coast.

Stop the plastic tide

Posted on: September 3, 2012

Turtle eating plastic

Turtles confuse plastic bags for sea jellies. Flickr: Jong Cortez.

Have you used the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Un-fantastic Plastic?  In this series of activities, students will research and define the term marine debris, understand the consequences associated with plastics in the marine environment and develop practical solutions for their school to address the problem.

Why not take these activities a little bit further and ask students to develop a community advertising campaign that includes some easy, yet practical ways the community can reduce their plastic use also.  Show your students the YouTube Video: The Majestic Plastic Bag – A Mockumentary and ask them to write an exposition on why plastic is bad for the marine environment.  Students can then use this writing to assist in the development of their advertising campaign.  Their advertising campaign may be as simple as creating a poster for the local newspaper, or at the other end of the spectrum, developing a radio advertisement, a short movie or holding a community awareness event.

ACELY1796, ACELY1736, ACELY1746, ACELY1750, ACSHE035, ACSSU074, ACSHE062, ACSHE120, ACSHE121

The shape of fish

Posted on: August 24, 2012

Fish body shape comparison graphic

Fish body shapes give clues to how it moves through the water.

Did you know that the shape of a fish depicts where in the ocean it lives? Some fish are built for speed, others for manoeuvrability and some are built to travel long distances.

Demersal, or bottom-dwelling species, such as flounder and wobbegongs, are generally flat in shape. They do not have to be streamlined as they don’t tend to swim continuously, and being quite flat in shape allows them to stay close to the bottom and close to their food source.

Fish that live around reef areas (e.g. butterfly fish) have deep, flat bodies and are highly agile so they can move around easily.  Long, slender fish (e.g. moray eels) have the ability to hide under rocks and amongst coral.

Slow-moving fish with rounded bodies tend to have spines or armour plating, and many have poisonous flesh (e.g. blowfish) as forms of protection.  Fish with more elongated bodies (e.g. Australian herring) have the ability to swim relatively fast for long periods of time and thus don’t have the need for any special body protection.

The internal anatomy of a fish may also play a role in the fish’s survival.  Pelagic, or open water, fish such as tailor have a small swim bladder.  The swim bladder is an organ that the fish controls the amount of oxygen in, that enables the fish to control its ability to ‘float’ and ‘sink’ in the water column. Demersal species such as Western Australian dhufish have relatively large swim bladders to cope with large changes in pressure.  If you were to conduct a fish dissection with your students (see the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Dissect a Fish), the swim bladder, assuming it hasn’t been perforated, will be the air filled sac under the intestine. You can be assured it is quite safe to ‘pop’, in fact it is a bit of an anticlimax – no noise, no smell, no gooey stuff spurting out.

To find out more about fish shapes and how they aid a fish’s survival, check out the Marine WATERs Poster: Fish ‘Fiziks’.

Masters of Adaptation

Posted on: August 17, 2012

Mangrove roots half in water with foreground water and some leaves above.

Mangroves in the Broome region.

Are you studying adaptations with your students?  Have you considered mangroves as a focal point?

About 11,000 kilometres (or over a million hectares) of Australia’s coastline is covered with mangrove forests making them one of Australia’s most geographically widespread ecosystems. This area represents the third largest area of mangroves in the world.  

In Western Australia, mangroves occur naturally in most coastal areas from Shark Bay northwards. There are also small mangrove communities at the Abrolhos Islands, and in the Leschenault Inlet in the state’s south west.

In Activity 1 of the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Life in the Mangroves, students will study what mangroves are. You may wish to use our new Fisheries Fact Sheet: Mangroves, the Poster: The Mysteries of Mangroves and Article: Masters of Adaptation to help facilitate your class discussion.   Then, in Activity 3, students will investigate mangroves as a habitat using a story about a barramundi life cycle. Our Poster: Barramundi Life Cycle will help you to explain the different stages of the life cycle as you work through the story – your students will particularly like the part where the barramundi changes sex from male to female!  In Activity 4, students will use the mangrove ecosystem they created in Activity 3 to develop their knowledge of food webs (for more information on food chains and food webs, check out the Marine WATERs Lesson Plans: SEE Food & Marine Connections).


National Science Week is upon us!

Posted on: August 10, 2012

Coral reef.

National Science Week is an annual celebration of science in Australia and it begins this Saturday, 11 August!  To celebrate National Science Week, we’ve uploaded a suite of habitat resources and some new games to Marine WATERs!

These resources include two lesson plans on coral reefs, a lesson plan on seagrasses and two powerpoint presentations – Discovering Coral Reefs and Habitat Protectors: Seagrass Meadows.

In the Coral Reefs lesson plan, students will learn what corals are, how and where coral reefs form and the threats to corals reefs.  Once students have the foundations of knowledge about coral reefs, you could try building a coral reef with your class (Activity 2) or even make an edible coral polyp (see Activity 4 in the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Sharing a Shell).  These activities all provide background information for the Getting to Know Your Reef lesson plan, where students visit a local temperate or coral reef to investigate the diversity of organisms and the interactions that take place between the reef and its inhabitants.

We have five new label games too!  In these, students will label the anatomy of some common reef organisms to learn more about the creatures.  Use these games as an introduction to classifying organisms – do any of the organisms have similar anatomy?; or to discuss adaptations to the environment in which they live – what body parts do they have, where are they located and what is the advantage of this?

New resources in Marine WATER’s

Posted on: August 8, 2012

Phase 2 of Marine WATERs went live last term and as part of the launch, a new In Depth resource is now available.  The In Depth series provides supplementary information for the lesson plans and draws together a range of facts, research and current issues.  There are currently two In Depths available – Living with the Leeuwin Current and Houtman Abrolhos System.

Living with the Leeuwin Current outlines the characteristics of the Leeuwin Current, the driving force of the marine environment in Western Australia.   It explains why the marine environment of WA is so different to other western seaboards in the southern hemisphere.

The Leeuwin Current has a profound effect on some of our most iconic species and marine ecosystems, including the coral spawning on Ningaloo Reef, the existence of coral reefs at Rottnest Island and settlement of western rock lobster larvae, or puerulus. 

The Houtman Abrolhos System In Depth moves from the history of the islands to the management of the isolated, but vital marine ecosystem surrounding them today. 

The Abrolhos consists of 122 islands, clustered into three groups – Wallabi, Easter and Pelsaert – some 60 kilometres off the mid-west coast of WA.  They are part of Australia’s maritime history, as several early vessels were shipwrecked on the surrounding reefs.  Probably one of the best known wrecks is the United Dutch East India Company’s Batavia, en route for the Dutch East Indies in 1629.

Eew algae!

Posted on: August 3, 2012

When you think of algae, you may think of blooms that may be potentially toxic to the aquatic environment.  However algae are so much more than that.

If you’ve ever snorkelled around some of WA’s limestone reef areas, for example at Rottnest Island, near Cottesloe Beach or even further south around Dunsborough and Yallingup you would have encountered algae.  Algae provides much of the colour we find on a limestone reef and is also a great habitat for many marine creatures.

If you’re not into snorkelling, you’re bound to have come across ‘seaweed’ washed up on our beaches – in the southern part of the state, now is a great time to see this.  This mixture of seaweed, or algae, and seagrass that we find washed up on the beaches makes up what is called the ‘seawrack’ (see our blog from June 29 to learn more about seawracks).

The algae we find washed up in the seawrack is called macroalgae, that is, it can be seen with the unaided human eye.  Drifting around in the aquatic environment however, is microscopic algae called microalgae.  This microalgae is a major component of plankton and are the first link of aquatic food chains, being the main food source for many species.

So in fact, algae are not all bad and you may be surprised to know that you probably use algae more than you think!  Some 400 species of algae around the world are used by people for food, stock feed, medicines, cosmetics and fertilisers.  Why not conduct a research assignment with your class to investigate just how many products you use have extracts of algae in them?  To learn more about algae, check out our brand new Algae Fact Sheet.

The Bare Bones Professional Learning

Posted on: July 27, 2012

Fish dissection cut below and parallel to the lateral line up to the gill cover.

Have you been on an excursion to the Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre? Come along to our FREE Professional Learning session on Thursday 9 August to find out about the excursion opportunities available to you, and how they can be complemented with resources from Marine WATERs.

Suitable for Year 6-12 teachers, this session will focus on Fisheries Science. Try your hand at a fish dissection, learn what an otolith is and how to ‘read’ one too.

If you haven’t used Marine WATERs yet, or don’t know where to start, we’ll give you a crash course in navigating your way around the site. We’ll also look at both pre-excursion and post excursion resources including Designer Fish and What’s My Age Again?, so you can carry on your fisheries science studies in the classroom. This session does include take-away hard copy resources.

To register your interest in this Professional Learning session, please contact Aleesha Meuleners on 9203 0341 or email

Where: Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre, 39 Northside Drive, Hillarys WA 6025

Date: Thursday 9 August 2012 (Week 3 Term 3)

Time: 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm.  Registration from 3.45 pm.


Posted on: July 20, 2012

Gyotaku print made by Manske and Kitagawa using a fish replica.

The first challenge is working out how to say this activity! Gyotaku is a Japanese word.  Breaking it down, gyo – meaning fish and taku, meaning rubbing or impression, gyotaku is traditional Japanese fish printing. It has been used since the mid 1800’s by fishermen to record their catches.

So if you’re after something else to keep the kids occupied this holidays, why not give fish printing a go?! This may be a little messier (and possibly smellier) than last week’s plankton challenge, but still bound to be loads of fun and the great part is, you get to eat fish for dinner once you’re done! 

You will need to source a whole fish from either a retail outlet, or better still, take the kids fishing first (just remember your bag and size limits). Gently wash your fish to remove the slime layer. Pat the fish dry with paper towel, taking care not to rub off the scales. 

Plug the fish’s vent (the opening in front of the anal fin) with a small wad of tissue. If your fish has been gutted you will need to fill the empty cavity also. 

Fan out the fins and tail. You might like to use plasticine and dressmakers pins to hold them in place.

Using a paint brush, apply a thin layer of non-toxic paint to one side of the fish, avoiding the eye, the plasticine and tissues. Ensure the fish is covered including the fins and tail.

Place a piece of paper of over the fish and press down gently over the entire fish (hold the fish with one hand to avoid it moving). Peel back the paper slowly starting at one end.

Allow print to dry and then you may choose to paint on the eye, decorate it further, and label your fish (the sea mullet diagram in the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: What’s a Fish may assist you with your labelling).

To make another print, reapply paint to the fish and press new piece of paper over fish.

Once you’ve finished printing, wash the fish again to remove all of the excess paint, remove the pins, plasticine and tissue. Fillet your fish, cook and enjoy for dinner!

Need something for the kids to do these holidays?

Posted on: July 13, 2012

Plankton models created in the ‘plankton challenge’ activity.

Give them our plankton challenge to complete. Firstly, what are plankton? Plankton are microscopic plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton) that either float or are weak swimmers, carried by ocean currents. They are critical to the marine environment as they form the basis of most food chains and webs. The word plankton originates from the Greek word planktos, which means wandering or drifting. Many organisms living in the marine environment, being their life as a plankton, however some are plankton for the entirety of their lives.

Plankton must spend at least part of its life near the surface of the water where sunlight penetrates, referred to as the photic zone. This enables phytoplankton to capture sunlight to manufacture their own food via photosynthesis. Zooplankton graze on phytoplankton so need to be present where their food source is located.

Plankton exhibit a variety of adaptations to maintain close to the surface and slow their rate of sinking such as greater surface areas and long projections to increase friction.

To take the plankton challenge, you will need four consumables:

  • Plasticine
  • Polystyrene shapes
  • Toothpicks, and
  • Straws (you may wish to cut these in half)

Get the kids to Google images of plankton, then using any of the above four materials, recreate the plankton. The key to the challenge is, that the recreated plankton must sit neutrally buoyant – that is, just below the surface in a bucket of water, it can’t sink to the bottom, but it can’t float on top of the water either. Get the kids to think about the adaptations plankton use in the marine world to stay close to the surface – large surface area and projections.

The mixing zone

Posted on: July 6, 2012

Photo: Kylie Hordyk.

Estuaries are an integral part of the aquatic environment in Western Australia.  They are the mixing zone between our freshwater rivers and the salty ocean. They may be either permanently or seasonally open to the sea. Many fish species found in the marine environment, such as sea mullet, King George whiting and pink snapper, utilise estuaries at certain times during their life cycle. Black bream on the other hand, complete their entire lifecycle in the estuary. Why not investigate the lifecycles of different species of fish common to your local area, to find those that utilise the estuary during some stage of their life. Discuss with your students why those species may utilise the estuary during that stage also. Check out our poster – Estuarine fish in the mixing zone – to discover how fish can be grouped according to where they breed.

Estuaries are a dynamic habitat. In the wetter months of the year, the proportion of freshwater increases as rainfall increases and enters the estuary. Also during the wetter months, estuaries that may be periodically closed by sandbars are now opening. During the drier months, estuaries become more saline as the water evaporates. Under such conditions, estuaries may become hypersaline (more salty than seawater) meaning few fish can survive.

As some estuaries are closed to the ocean for a period of time (up to years), humans can have a profound impact on the health of an estuary.  Obtain photos of your local estuary and discuss with your students how humans could have (or have had) a negative impact on the estuary – the poster may provide you with some ideas for discussion also.  Better still, check with your local newspaper office or maybe even your council to find some archive photos of the estuary to be compared with present day photos.

Can you smell that?

Posted on: June 29, 2012

Juvenile Port Jackson sharks with egg case found washed up on Hillarys beach, June 2012.

Have you been down the beach recently?  The weather is probably not enticing you … nor the smell, but it’s a great time to find some really cool things washed up on our beaches.  A class of Year 8’s on excursion to the Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre recently, had a great find whilst on their Beach Exploration.  Lying in amongst the reasonably large sea wrack on Hillarys beach were not one, but three juvenile Port Jackson sharks, presumably just hatched, as egg cases were found nearby!

You can learn more about the things we find washed up on our beaches from the Perth Beachcombers Education Kit.  Download the Beachcombers Field Guide to see what organisms look like both under the water, and when they are washed up on the beach.

What exactly is a sea wrack?  A sea wrack is made up mainly of seagrasses and seaweeds, but the composition depends on where you are on the coast.  The washed-up material reflects the ‘plant’ species abundant offshore – e.g. in Geographe Bay, sea wracks are composed largely of seagrass.  To learn more about what you find in the sea wrack, check out our poster – Dynamic link between ocean and land.

Sea wracks have also been studied over the years by fisheries scientists and they now know there is a correlation between the composition of the wrack and the juvenile fish species that use it for food and shelter.  Turns out, some juvenile fish (just like many juvenile humans) are fussy eaters!  Read our article C’mon and Embrace the Smell to learn about the juvenile fish species that use the sea wrack, and also learn about the human uses of seaweed.  Ask your students to research other products that have seaweed in them … they may be surprised how much seaweed they consume without even realising it!

If you’re really game, why not take your class on a trip to the beach … raincoats are recommended and remember, never turn your back on the ocean.

Fishing for the Future

Posted on: June 22, 2012

Fishing rules are complex, there’s no doubt about it.  Some of the regulations you may need to be aware of include (but are not limited to):

  • Daily bag limits
  • Possession limits
  • Minimum size limits
  • Totally protected species
  • Closed seasons
  • Gear restrictions, and
  • Licences.

Kids love to go a throw a line in the water, but how many of your students are aware of the myriad of rules that need to adhere to?

In Activity 3 from our Fishing for the Future lesson plan, students will use the ‘real’ rules and regulations to analyse a ‘catch’.  Using the Recreational Fishing Guides, students will work out whether fish in their ‘catch’ are of legal minimum size and within their bag limit, therefore complying with the regulations. 

Of course, before students can do this, they first need to identify their catch!  In Activity 2, students use the Species Identification Guide to create a profile on a particular species.  Why not take this a step further and use the students’ findings to develop a Species Identification poster for your region.  You may also like to ask students to research the juvenile of the species they complete their profile on.  Many juveniles are quite different to the adult of the species and may even be confused with adults of a totally different species, such as juvenile Australian salmon and adult Herring!

Spiny, Symmetrical and Strange … what am I?

Posted on: June 17, 2012

Brittle Star

My mouth and tubed feet are on my underside, my anus is on my upper side and my gonads are in my ‘armpits’! … what am I?

I am, of course, a sea star!

Sea stars belong to the phylum of animals known as echinoderms.  Echinoderms, as the name suggests, are spiny skinned animals – ‘echino’ meaning spiny and ‘derm’ meaning skin. 

Related to sea stars, are feather stars, brittle stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers.  What do these all have in common?  Apart from being spiny skinned, which is due to their skeleton consisting of tiny calcified plates and spines, they all exhibit radial symmetry – that is, their body shapes radiate out from the centre.

Have you seen our Echinoderms Poster?  There’s a great cross sectional diagram of a sea urchin on it.  Provide this diagram to your students and ask them to research the body parts they are unfamiliar with, then engage students in a discussion about how the location of the various body parts may be adaptations to where they live, how they eat, and most importantly, how they don’t become prey themselves.

Read the article Spiny, Strange and Symmetrical: The Weird World of Echinoderms to learn more about the relatives of sea stars and sea urchins.  Ask students to complete some research to discover why sea stars, feather stars, brittle stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers are each in a class of their own. 

World Oceans Day

Posted on: June 8, 2012

It’s World Oceans Day today!

Did you know that oceans occupy 71 percent of the world’s surface?  There are five main bodies of seawater that are designated as oceans, namely, the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Southern Ocean, Arctic Ocean and our very own Indian Ocean.

Check out the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Oceans Divided to learn more about out oceans, seas, gulfs, bays and bights!  The characteristics of a body of water determine whether it is a bay, bight or sea.

In Activities 1 and 2 of Oceans Divided students will map the bodies of water, covering that 71 percent of our planet.  As an extension to this activity, why not ask students to research how and why the these bodies of water are so named. 

Similarly to the land masses around the world, the ocean floor is not one vast, flat expanse.  The highest peak on land, Mount Everest, stretches 8,850 metres above sea level.  Contrast, the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench, is 10,912 metres below sea level.  You can use the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Getting Deeper to learn about the bathymetry of the world’s oceans and add this information to the map created in Activities 1 and 2 of Oceans Divided.

Dive into the In Depths

Posted on: June 1, 2012

Juvenile western rock lobster.

As part of the phase 2 launch last week, we introduced you to a great new resource type called the ‘In Depth’.  This resource aim to provide supplementary information for the lesson plans and draw together a range of facts, research and current issues.  The first In Depths available are Living with the Leeuwin Current and Houtman Abrolhos System

The Leeuwin Current, one of the major driving forces of the Western Australian marine environment, was not formally identified and named until 1980! Learn about the characteristics of the Leeuwin Current and why the Western Australian marine environment is so dramatically different to that of other western seaboards in the southern hemisphere.  Greater global climatic events, known as ENSO events also have significant impact on the Leeuwin Current, which has a flow on effect to the larval phase of the western rock lobster and how many juvenile lobster settle on the coast. 

The Houtman Abrolhos System In Depth explores the marine ecosystem known as “The Abrolhos”, a series of 122 islands some 60 kilometres off the coast from Geraldton.  Learn about the commercial fisheries, recreational fishing and tourism industries surrounding the islands.

You might have also noticed we’ve added a new resource filter so that you can search by resource type, be it poster, lesson plan, fact sheet or game!   

Phase 2 goes live!

Posted on: May 22, 2012

Case Study: Monitoring coral bleaching on Christmas Island. Photo: Justin Gilligan.

The Department of Fisheries and Woodside Energy, are excited to announce that Phase 2 of Marine WATERs (Western Australian Teacher Education Resources), is now live!

We have just launched a range of new resources for years K–10.  These resources include new lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations, a poster, and also two completely new resource types in the ‘Case Study’ and ‘In Depth’ series. 

The ‘In Depth’ series aim to provide supplementary information for the lesson plans and draw together a range of facts, research and current issues.  The first of these is on the Leeuwin Current, the driving force of the marine environment in WA. 

The ‘Case Study’ series will look at a specific issue, usually fishery related, in detail.  The first Case Study explores a coral monitoring project undertaken on Christmas Island.

Resources will continue to be added to the Marine WATERs website throughout 2012, with further lesson plans, posters, In Depths, Fact Sheets and another Case Study to come.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Posted on: May 18, 2012

Jan St Quintin operates the diamond cutter to prepare the otolith slice.

An astronaut? A ballerina? … An osteo-chronologist?

You can just see other people’s reaction during a casual conversation at a party can’t you?  “You’re a what?!”

So exactly what does the work of an osteo-chronologist entail?  You may be aware that the Department of Fisheries collects fish frames (the skeletal remains of a fish after it has been filleted) from recreational fishers.  Bony fish have tiny bones (or more correctly otoliths) located in their heads.  The bones are critical for hearing, balance and perception of depth for fish.  The bones are removed from the fish frame and then our osteo-chronologists step in. 

They set each otolith in a resin block that helps to protect the bone from chipping and keeps them stable when they are cut with diamond cutters to a thickness of less than a third of a millimetre.  Once the otoliths are cut, that very fine slice of the otolith is placed under a microscope … and then the fishes age secrets are revealed.  Otoliths display growth rings, similar to a tree trunk, which allow scientists to determine the age of the fish.  Find out more about the work of our brilliant osteo-chronologists in the Western Fisheries article, A Day in the Life of …

Want to try this out for yourself?  Try Activity 3: Counting Bands from the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: What’s My Age Again? You can download the sectioned slides in a Powerpoint Presentation: Black Bream Sectioned Otoliths and challenge your class … the answers are included for you too!

Classifying in the Classroom

Posted on: May 11, 2012

The first of the combined Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre (NMDC) and Marine WATERs Professional Learning sessions kicked off last night with a focus on classifying marine organisms.  Our keen participants got their hands dirty (or at least sandy) as they carried out the simple sorting exercise with a bucket of beach ‘stuff’, just as their students would on an excursion to the NMDC.

The It’s Classified! Lesson Plan is a great introduction to classifying.  Classification in the scientific world is used for the scientific naming, identifying and describing of individuals, and determining relationships between groups and their evolutionary links.  Scientists classify organisms to genus and species level, which then become the scientific name of the organism.  This name is written in italics.

In Activity 1, students begin by attempting to classify everyone in the class.  All students are obviously of the same genus and species, but the idea behind the activity is to get students to think about the characteristics that make them different to everyone else.  Engage your students in a discussion about what characteristics would be useful, and those that wouldn’t be so useful.  E.g. short sleeves and long sleeves are likely to change on a daily basis and therefore wouldn’t be very useful.

Appendix 2 of the lesson plan provides you with a playing card template of a variety of different marine organisms.  Each card has the phylum that the organism belongs to listed at the top.  As a challenge for your students, when you make your set of cards, why not cut that label off? Provide students with the photo cards and ask them to group the organisms by what they can see from the picture or from what they have already learnt about that phyla.

The Perth Beachcomber’s Education Kit also has some great resources for classification.  You can also book an excursion to the NMDC and participate in our classifying activity, Bringing the Beach to You.

FREE Professional Learning Opportunities

Posted on: May 4, 2012

Bringing the beach to you activity.

New to Marine WATERs, or just need a bit of guidance as to where to start?  We have free Professional Learning opportunities in a variety of locations around the state this month!

The first of these sessions is Thursday, 10 May at the Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre (NMDC) from 4.00pm – 6.00pm.  This session is the first of an ongoing series that will explore a specific NMDC excursion activity in detail, and the Marine WATERs resources that can be used pre- and post-excursion.  This session will explore our marine classification activities and a variety of lesson plans from Marine WATERs including I’ve Got the Key and Designer Fish.  To register for this session, contact Aleesha Meuleners – or 9203 0341.

On Saturday 26 May, we will be presenting at CONSTAWA, the annual conference of the Science Teacher’s Association of Western Australia.  In this session, participants will have the opportunity to try a range of hands on Marine WATERs activities, experience a Department of Fisheries incursion/excursion activity and discover the resources available in Marine WATERs to supplement this activity.

If you are in Esperance, the Department’s Marine Education Officers from Albany will be conducting an Introduction to Marine WATERs session at Lotteries House from 4.00 pm – 5.00 pm.  To register for this session, contact Kylie Outhwaite or Tahryn Thompson – or 9845 7400.

Lastly, we head north to Broome.  On Thursday 31 May we’ll be presenting an Introduction to Marine WATERs at the Department of Fisheries office from 3.15 pm – 4.45 pm.  To register for this session, contact Kara Dew – or 9193 8600.

These introductory sessions will include:

  • How to find resources on Marine WATERs,
  • Information about local fisheries education programs,
  • Opportunities to try some of the activities “hands on” and
  • An opportunity to take away hard copy resources.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our sessions soon!

Coral Reef Communities

Posted on: April 27, 2012

Sweet treat - coral polyp creation!

The Science Network WA this week reported on marine biologist Dr Barry Wilson’s findings from a study he completed in 2010 of the fringing coral reefs along the Kimberley coast. See the full post here:’s-platform-reefs-reveal-unique-formations.

Coral reefs have a fairly large range in Western Australia owing to the warm Leeuwin Current that flows south along the WA coastline. Ningaloo Reef in the north-west of the state is the most iconic, however coral reefs are also found at the Abrolhos Islands, and Rottnest Island just 20 kilometres into the Indian Ocean from Perth.  Soft corals are also found as far south as Busselton!

You and your class can learn more about coral reefs of WA in our article ‘Rainforests of the Sea’.  Also, discover the different types of coral reefs in our Coral Reef Communities Poster, and try the ‘Grow Your Own Coral’ Activity.

In addition to this, teach your students about the structure of a coral polyp by building your own marshmallow coral polyps. The best part is, you can eat it at the end of the lesson!  Each student will require a small patty case. Melt some white chocolate and put a teaspoon in the bottom of each patty case. This represents the limestone skeleton. Use the diagram on the Coral Reef Communities poster, to assist in explaining the various components to your class. Next, push a marshmallow into the white chocolate.  This represents the coral polyps stomach. Cut jelly snakes into quarters (width-wise) and then into short lengths and push into the marshmallow.  These are the tentacles of the coral polyp. Last but not least, sprinkle hundreds and thousands over your marshmallow polyp to represent the zooxanthellae, the tiny algae that enhance the corals’ ability to synthesise calcium carbonate from carbon and calcium dissolved in the water.  These algae give the corals their colours, or leave them bleached during periods of extreme environmental stress when the corals expel the algae, also known as coral bleaching.

Feeling peckish?

Posted on: April 23, 2012

Imagine your life if you were a fish – your main concerns on a daily basis would be finding food, not becoming food yourself, rest, finding food, not becoming food, find a mate, rest, finding food …

Luckily for us, finding food usually extends as far as visiting the supermarket and ‘catching’ our dinner into a shopping basket.  Our next challenge is then cooking, but at least we don’t have to concern ourselves with being eaten by someone else!

Use the SEE Food Lesson Plan to investigate who eats what in the marine environment.  It begins with plankton, the microscopic plants and animals that form the basis of the food chain (see The Plankton Challenge) and ends with a top level predator – us!  This lesson plan is based on the fantastic book See Food (Windy Hollow books), written by Guundie Kuchling who lives here in Western Australia! 

In Activity 3, students build a food pyramid using organisms from the story and investigate what happens when parts of the pyramid are removed.  Another way to conduct this activity is to write each of the organisms in the food pyramid on cards (in the same ratios as they are in Activity 3).  Give each student a labeled card and a piece of string.  Ask students to hold opposite end of the string with those that they either consume, or are consumed by.  One by one, remove organisms from the group (ask them to let go of the string, and sit down).  As each organism is removed, there will be a domino effect of others who no longer have a food source.  This is a really simple but very visual way of explaining food webs to students.  As an extension on this, try the Tied up in a Marine Food Web activity in the Marine Connections lesson plan.     

There’s a Full Moon on the Rise

Posted on: April 13, 2012

King Sound – Google maps image

You’ve hopefully all enjoyed Easter, indulged in some sustainable Western Australian fish … and maybe a little chocolate. Some of you may remember that we had a particularly long weekend at Easter in 2011. This was because Easter Sunday fell on April 24th – the day before Anzac Day. This year, Easter Sunday was April 8th, whilst next year it will fall on March 31st!

How is the date of Easter then determined? Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the full moon, following the Autumn equinox. Check out a moon phase calendar – and you’ll find that the full moon does not occur on the same date each month. As a result, Easter Sunday can actually occur anywhere from March 22nd through to April 25th.

What else does the moon dictate then? In ‘The Tide is High’ Lesson Plan, you’ll find out about the significance of the moon to the tide changes we experience. Tides are the rhythmic rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the rotation of the Earth and the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun. Thus, the change in the tide is responsible for your sandcastle being washed away, or not as the case may be, on the beach!

Here in Western Australia, King Sound near Derby, experiences the second largest tidal range in the world (after the Bay of Fundy in Canada). The Department of Transport have Western Australian tide times available on their website –

In Activity 2 of The Tide is High, students will experiment with cups or buckets of water to experience the gravitational pull and centrifugal forces between the Earth and the moon, in a similar manner to how high and low tides work.

As an extension to the activities in The Tide is High, if your school is located close to, or if students live nearby a beach, ask them to photograph it at the same time each day over a period of a week. Create a time series with the photos and ask students to predict whether it was high or low tide (or heading towards high or low tide). Use the tide charts available on the internet to confirm your results and if necessary, engage students in a discussion as to why their predictions may have been different from the tide chart.  

Eggs in the sea…

Posted on: April 4, 2012

Port Jackson shark egg case

It’s Easter time! Whilst you’re consuming all that chocolate, take a moment to stop and think about what the eggs actually mean. We have eggs, chicks and rabbits at Easter to represent new life.

How does new life occur in the ocean though? Many will be familiar with annual coral spawning events that occur around the world. In Western Australia, at Ningaloo, the coral spawning event usually occurs after the full moon in March or April.

Many organisms in the ocean reproduce externally, meaning they release either sperm or eggs (or both in the case of hermaphrodites) into the water. Animals that reproduce in this way release large numbers of eggs and sperm to ensure that some survive.

Other animals, such as some sharks and rays, reproduce via internal fertilization and bear live young. These animals produce fewer offspring, however, have a greater chance of survival.

Use our Seacrets to Sex and Survival poster and Sex and the Sea article to find out more about how a range of marine animals reproduce, including sea stars, sea horses, sea slugs and deep-sea anglerfish! Investigate the methods these animals use to ensure survival of their species, and what challenges do they face? Which animals use external fertilization, and which use the internal method? Do sharks lay eggs, or give birth to live young?  How do you attract a mate if you are a crustacean, dhufish, or cuttlefish? Who gets the job of looking after the baby in the seahorse family?

Beach Clean Up

Posted on: March 23, 2012

Concerned about the marine environment? The Department of Fisheries and the City of Mandurah are hosting a beach clean up this Sunday the 25th of March.  Beginning at 8.30 am at the park on the corner of Henson Street and Ormsby Terrace in Silver Sands, participants will learn about their local marine environment and help look after it also.  Please bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a water bottle and sturdy walking shoes.  A sausage sizzle will follow the cleanup.

Can’t make it on Sunday but still want to make a difference? Check out the Un-fantastic Plastic lesson plan and the Harmful Marine Debris PowerPoint presentation with your class instead!

A Balancing Act

Posted on: March 9, 2012

Our first poster release for 2012 entitled, ‘A Balancing Act’.  This poster shows the myriad of activities that occur in the coastal and marine environment along Western Australia’s 12,500 kilometres of coastline on a daily basis.  It also identifies the number of different marine habitats that are found in Western Australia.  Obviously, these habitats and activities do not normally all occur so closely together, but with our growing population that lives increasingly close to the coast and utilising the coastal environment more and more, there is likely to be mounting pressure on our aquatic resources now and in years to come.

We recommend using this poster to promote classroom discussion about the marine and coastal environment.  Some questions you may choose to pose to your students include:

  • What terrestrial based (land-based) activities can you see occurring and what impact (if any) are they likely to have on the marine and coastal environment?
  • How many different marine habitat types can you spot?  Use the Western Fisheries Posters to learn more abut each of these habitats.
  • Identify the activities occurring in the scene that require fisheries management.  What could occur as a result of each of these activities not being managed properly?
  • What recreational fishing activities are occurring in the scene?  Which of these activities do you participate in?  What rules and regulations are you aware of for each of the activities? Follow us on Facebook Fisheries Division Woodside Energy