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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.

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.

Students_Teachers_Staff

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.

clean-marine

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!     

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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 www.redmap.org.au.

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.

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.

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.           

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 www.fish.wa.gov.au for the most up to date information.

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 education@fish.wa.gov.au 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 http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/month.html.

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

Gyotaku

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.

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.

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: http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/fisheries-a-water/item/1374-kimberley’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.

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!

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