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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.

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!


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.

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.

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.


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!

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?


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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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. Follow us on Facebook Fisheries Division Woodside Energy