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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!     


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 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

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!

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

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! 

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).


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.

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!   

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