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Marine WATERs - Western Australia - Teacher Education Resources Government of Western Australia

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Marine biology

Marine Species Diversity

Western Australia’s marine and coastal environment contains unique, diverse and fragile ecosystems and species – from tropical waters in the north, to temperate waters in the south.

This module discovers what types of marine organisms inhabit Western Australian waters, how they are classified, their biology, lifecycle and how they interact with other species and its habitat.

Lesson Plans

Meet the Cast

Students will explore the diversity of Western Australia’s marine invertebrate animals.

Amazing Artemia

This series of lessons is designed to complement the Sea Monkey Science activity run by the Department of Fisheries Community and Education Team. Students will learn about Artemia (also called brine shrimp or sea monkeys), their biology and why they

Rainbow Fish: Ocean Zones

Students will learn about the different zones in the ocean and how organisms adapt to survive in these environments.

Who Lives Where?

Students will study the most important marine habitats of Western Australia and their inhabitants.

Excursion: Getting to Know Your Reef

Students will participate in a field excursion to investigate their local temperate or coral reef ecosystem.

Inhabiting Intertidal Rocky Shores

Students will learn about the rocky intertidal zone, the organisms that live there and the challenges they face to survive. The presentations 'Inhabiting the Intertidal' and 'The Intertidal Zone: a reef platform' relate to this lesson plan.

Ocean Bingo

Students will learn about their favourite marine creatures through pictures, photographs and real life samples of marine life found in Western Australian waters. Learning is reinforced through playing the bingo game to complete the lesson. The presentation 'Who am I?'

Excursion: Intertidal Investigation

Students will study a reef platform, to identify organisms living on the platform, and provide reasoning as to their distribution.

Sex in the Sea

Students learn about the importance of reproduction and explore how aquatic animals have a diverse range of reproductive strategies to increase the chances of survival for their species. 

Sharing a Shell

Students will use the book Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson to learn about rock pools and symbiotic relationships in the marine environment.

What's My Age Again?

Students discover the process where fish otoliths are extracted and analysed to determine the age of the fish. Students will practice ageing fish using photographs of black bream sectioned otoliths and Australian herring whole otoliths.

Designer Fish

Students discover the adaptations that fish have to help them survive in a wide range of aquatic environments. Students use this knowledge to design their own fish according to different types of habitats.

It's Classified

Students will demonstrate the importance of classification and understand that living things can be grouped according to identified characteristics.

Welcome back Jack

Students will read the book Jinormous Jack by Josephine Barrymore and illustrated by Steve Dance, and explore the Ningaloo reef ecosystem and biology of whale sharks.

Home Sweet Home

Students will investigate the needs of marine organisms and the role they play in marine ecosystems through a ‘musical chairs’ style game and constructing a habitat diorama.

Estuarine Crocodiles

Students will identify the key features of estuarine crocodiles and recognise how these features enable them to survive and adapt to the aquatic environment of the Kimberley region in Western Australia.

What's a Fish

Students will learn about the features used to classify fish and compare them to features of other organisms. This lesson will focus closely on the external features of bony fish and how they help fish to survive underwater.

I've Got the Key

Students will learn what a dichotomous key is, why and how they are used, and attempt to create their own dichotomous keys.

SEE Food

Using the children’s book See Food, written by Guundie Kuchling, students will gain an understanding of how food chains, food webs and food pyramids work through illustrations and hands-on activities.

The Plankton Challenge

Students will construct a plankton model and simulate real life adaptations through using different types of materials. The aim is to construct a model that exhibits neutral buoyancy.

Life in the Mangroves

Through constructing a mangrove ecosystem storyboard, students will explore the function of mangrove ecosystems and how organisms depend on mangroves for food, shelter and lifecycle.

Dissect a Fish

Students dissect a bony fish, identify the internal features and learn how these features enable the fish to survive.

Marine Connections

Students will investigate marine ecosystems by examining the structure of marine food chains and food webs for Shark Bay.


Australian herring

This resource is an interactive image created in Thinglink, illustrating both the external and internal anatomy of an Australian herring. When viewing the image, hover over the icons to reveal extra information, images and video.

Ocean Alphabet Poster

It's the A-Z of ocean organisms in Western Australia!   Please note - printed copies of this poster are not yet available.

Bony fish – internal anatomy

Explore the internal anatomy of a bony fish in this interactive poster.

Bony fish – external anatomy

Explore the external anatomy of a bony fish in this interactive poster.

Western Rock Lobster Life Cycle

This poster features the Life Cycle of the Western Rock Lobster with images of egg and larval stages.

Who goes with the flow?

A poster featuring the pathway of the Leeuwin current along the Western Australia coastline.

Barramundi Life Cycle

This poster features the life cycle of Barramundi with images of egg, larval and juvenile stages.

Demersal Scalefish

The Bottom Dwellers

Too Much of a Good Thing (Estuaries)

This poster highlights the impacts of oversupply of nutrients in estuaries.


Tingly Tentacles


Armoured Invertebrates


Soft Bodies, Hard Shells


Ancient, Colourful and Full of Holes!


Spiny-Skinned Creatures from the Ocean

Living Limestone Reefs

Limestone reefs are nature's stepping stones for a variety of life perched precariously between land and sea.  Learn more about the organisms that inhabit Western Australia's limestone reefs from this poster. Request a physical copy of this poster here.

Fact Sheets

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Estuarine Cobbler

Cobbler (Cnidoglanis macrocephalus), or catfish as they’re known outside Western Australia, are ‘endemic’ to Australia, meaning they’re only found here. They live in the southern half of the country, in coastal and estuarine waters up to about 30 metres deep.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Introduced Marine Species

Dangerous migrants – marine species that are introduced into environments in which they do not occur naturally can become deadly pests and represent one of the greatest threats to the world's oceans and biodiversity. This fact sheet identifies some of

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Barramundi

Barramundi are a highly opportunistic species that dominate many tropical rivers. Delicious and thrilling to catch, they also live in both freshwater and saltwater, change sex and eat just about anything. Barramundi support substantial commercial, recreational and customary fisheries, as

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Tailor

Tailor are one of the most popular recreational fishing species along the west coast of Western Australia.  Learn more about what fisheries' scientists know of tailor from more than 15 years worth of data collection on this species.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Western Blue Groper

In southern Australia, the western blue groper is actually the largest carnivorous bony fish species found living on reefs, reaching a length of up to 1.7 m and a weight of up to 40 kg.  Learn more about the biology

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Threadfins

With their goggling, oddly placed eyes and their whisker-like pectoral filaments, threadfins are one of the weirder looking Western Australian fish species. Find out more about the biology of these weird looking fish and the commercial fishery in this fact

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Sawfish

The unusual-looking sawfish family are a type of ray and are therefore related to sharks. Found in both marine and freshwater, these predatory fish derive their name from their long snouts lined with sharp points. An identification and general information

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Western Rock Lobster

Colourful and protected by a strong carapace, the western rock lobster is one of the family of 'spiny' lobsters - and the target of WA's largest and most valuable fishery. This fact sheet explores the basic biology of the western rock lobster.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Sharks

Of the 370-plus shark species in the world, more than 100 species live in Western Australian waters. This fact sheet provides general information about the biology of sharks, protected species and their vulnerability to overfishing.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Pink Snapper

Pink snapper are one of Western Australia's best-known and most sought-after fish. This fact sheet provides information on the widely distributed Pink Snapper (Pagrus auratus) and their biology.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Blowfish

The common blowfish or 'blowie', is abundant in estuaries and coastal waters throughout south-west Western Australia. While the blowfish will never win a popularity contest, it has an important role in marine ecosystems. The blowie is native to WA and

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Baldchin Groper

Baldchin groper, affectionately known as 'baldies', are greatly prized for their high-quality white flesh.  Found only in WA, they are powerful swimmers and quite capable of breaking a fishing line as they dive for cover among rocks and coral. This

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Australian Herring

A staple fish for recreational and commercial fisheries in the south of the State, Australian herring are a popular and abundant species with a lifecycle dependent on prevailing currents.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: West Australian Dhufish

A fact sheet providing information on Western Australian dhufish (Glaucosoma hebracium), a fish species endemic to the southern part of Western Australia. Its great size and superb eating qualities make this fish a Western Australian fishing icon.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Marron

Marron are the largest freshwater crayfish in Western Australia and the third largest freshwater crayfish on Earth. Find out more about the biology of these freshwater species in this fact sheet.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Bycatch

What is bycatch? The accidental capture of unwanted or non-targeted fish or other animals. This fact sheet outlines what is bycatch and what the fishing industry is doing to reduce it through bycatch reduction devices and modified fishing equipment.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Blue Swimmer Crab

This fact sheet provides information about blue swimmer crabs (Portunus pelagicus), a tropical crustacean species found in Western Australia mainly between Karratha and Dunsborough. Also known as a blue manna crab, it is an important recreational and commerical fishing species.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Black Bream

Black bream is one of the most important recreational and commercial fish species in the estuaries of south-Western Australia. A 'true' estuarine species, black bream complete their whole lifecycle within an estuary and are reliant on healthy rivers and estuaries

Other Resources

FOP No. 57 Introduced Marine Species in Western Australia

Fisheries Occasional Publication No. 57, March 2009.  Fred E. Wells, Justin I. McDonald and John M. Huisman


An indicator for climate change? The corals of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands.

Western Fisheries article by Steve Ireland, November 2011, pg. 52-53

What are fishes made of?

Western Fisheries article by Steve Ireland, December 2008, pg. 22-27

School for Survival

Western Fisheries article by Steve Ireland, April 2006, pg. 42-47

Pink Snapper Egg Survey

Western Fisheries article, November 2006, pg. 49

Looking for little lobsters

Western Fisheries article by Cathy Anderson, July 2010, pg. 46-48

Western Rock Lobster Fishery Trends

Western Fisheries article, December 2008, pg. 47

Between a rock lobster and a hard place

Western Fisheries article by Ben Carlish, April 2010, pg. 48-51

The Hunt for Missing Puerulus

This time a year ago, it seemed that good news awaited Western Asutralia's western rock lobster fishery.  For the first time in eight years, climatic conditions were ideal for the strong recruitment of young lobster.  But from August onwards, when

The Strange and Secret Army

Most people interested in fishing in Western Australia know a fair bit about how we manage the stocks of western rock lobster, the fact that there is a 'season' for them, bag and size limits and that sort of thing. 

Artificial reefs: Oases for Marine Life?

Western Fisheries article by Michelle Dyer, December 2009, pg. 42-43

Fisheries taps Port Gregory pond potential

Western Fisheries article, July 2006, pg. 45

Crustaceans: The hard facts

Western Fisheries article by Marcia van Zeller , November 2007, pg. 26-29

Molluscs – Insects of the sea

Western Fisheries article by Dr Fred Wells, July 2007, pg. 24-26

The World's Simplest Animals

Western Fisheries article by Dr Jane Fromont, Mar 2007, pg. 22-24

Expanding Our Knowledge of Ningaloo

Western Fisheries article by C. Amalfi, Dec 2006, pg. 46-47

A Reef of Data

Western Fisheries article by C. Anderson, Jul 2010, pg. 38-41. Every time the Western Australian Museum, the Australian Institute of Marine Research, the CSIRO, WA government scientists or any of our universities surveys WA’s northern waters, their findings reinforce the

Spiny, Symmetrical and Strange: The Weird World of Echinoderms

Western Fisheries article, Dec 2006, pg. 28-31

Cnidarians: Diverse and Spectacular

Western Fisheries article by Loisette Marsh, Jan 2008, pg. 31-34

Assessment of Human Activity Impacts on Abrolhos Reefs

Western Fisheries article, Jan 2008, pg. 48-49

Limestone Kingdoms of Western Australia

Western Fisheries article by C. Amalfi, Dec 2005, pg. 8-13

Rainforests of the Sea

Western Fisheries article by C. Amalfi, Apr 2006, pg. 9-13

'Have You Heard the One About the Talking Fish'

Western Fisheries article by S. Ireland, Sept 2008, pg. 24-29

Even Fish Get the Bends

Western Fisheries article by S. Ireland, Apr 2008, pg. 26-31

Little Drifters are Beacons of Climate Change

Humble though they may seem and occupying a low position in the marine food web, plankton are vital to the health not only of oceans, but also of the world’s atmospheric and terrestrial environments. Increasingly, plankton are also seen by

Stars in the Sea

Driven by a love of the sea and fascination for its largest fish, the elusive whale shark, Australian naturalist Brad Norman has created a worldwide photo-identification system which enables ordinary people to assist in conserving Rhincodon typus. Story: Julian Cribb,

Miaboolya Water Under the Microscope

Western Fisheries article by M. van Zellar, Jan 2008, pg. 14-15

Masters of Adaptation

A high percentage of fish caught commercially spend some time in mangroves or are dependent on food chains which can be traced back to mangroves. With mangrove cover decreasing worldwide, Carmelo Amalfi reports on the state of Western Australia’s mangal

How Fish Move and How We Can Help Them

Western Fisheries article by S. Ireland, Jul 2006, pg. 12-17

Skin Secrets

Depending on the species, a fish’s skin can be quite stunning to behold – bright, shimmering and luminous. But just as with humans, fish skin is a large and complex organ, essential to survival. It may also hold the secret

Quick, Call Me a Taxonomist! (Sorry, They’re all Busy…)

It’s estimated that the world’s oceans, particularly the virtually unexplored depths, could hold tens of millions of undiscovered species. But with fewer and fewer taxonomists to analyse, describe and classify new species, we may never know the full extent of

Crashing the Parties

Western Fisheries article by C. Anderson, Jun 2009, pg.34-38

How Fish Breathe and Why They Need Good Water

Western Fisheries article by S. Ireland and M. de Graaf, Mar 2007, pg.12-17

Flowers of the Ocean: WA’s Expansive Seagrass Meadows

Watch the flowers bloom around your home this spring, then imagine the same wonder of nature taking place underwater in fields of seagrasses within snorkelling distance of the Western Australian coast. The shallow coastal beds shared by other unique marine

The Uncommon Senses of Fish

Like human beings, fish are equipped with the senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight – but they also have other ingenious ways of perceiving their watery world. Steve Ireland reports, Western Fisheries article by S. Ireland Nov 2006,

Getting a Bite to Eat

Fish in Western Australia’s south-western estuaries and nearshore areas have evolved to eat and thrive on the types of food that are naturally available to them – just like humans. However, as Steve Ireland discovers, they also share our ability


Survival in the Sea

A look at the diversity of marine species in their environment.

Teacher Guides

Teacher Guide: Bare Bones Fisheries Science

A Fisheries Activity 1. Overview Students will learn why fisheries scientists dissect fish and what information can be found from examining the external and internal structure of a fish. Students then carry out their own fish dissection, where they

Teacher Guide: Scientific Sandcastles

Build sand­cas­tles with a dif­fer­ence – stu­dents will work in teams to build some pop­u­lar marine crea­tures. They will learn about various body parts of the creature they build, and the functions of these parts. They will also learn about the local area where they are doing the activity and discuss some of the items they find washed up on the beach.

Teacher Guide: Bringing the Beach to You

A Department of Fisheries activity where students work in groups to classify organisms commonly found washed up on our local beaches.

In Depths

Indian Ocean Territories – In Depth

Referred to as the Indian Ocean Territories (IOTs), the remote location of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is the key to their unique and spectacular marine biodiversity.

Living with the Leeuwin Current – In Depth

At 5,500 kilometres, the Leeuwin Current is the world's longest continuous coastal or boundary current.

Houtman Abrolhos System – In Depth

The Houtman Abrolhos, commonly referred to as "The Abrolhos", consist of 122 islands lying 60 kilometres west of Geraldton on Western Australia's mid-west coast.


Spectacular Sea Monkeys

Learn all about Artemia more commonly known as sea monkeys. This presentation accompanies the Amazing Artemia Lesson Plan.

Who Lives There?

Explore the range of marine habitats found in Western Australia. This presentation is a resource related to the "Who Lives Where?" Lesson Plan.

Discovering Coral Reefs

Learn about the different types of corals and the organisms inhabiting coral reef environments.

Inhabiting the Intertidal

Learn about the organisms that inhabit our intertidal rocky shores. This presentation is a resource related to the 'Inhabiting Intertidal Rocky Shores' and 'Excursion: Intertidal Investigation' lesson plans.

Who am I?

View photos of oganisms encountered in the game Ocean Bingo. This presentation is a resource related to the 'Ocean Bingo' Lesson Plan.

Fish Adaptations

This PowerPoint presentation will assist in identifying various fish adaptations and how they help the fish to survive in their habitat. This is a related resource to the Designer Fish lesson plan.


Sea Urchin Label Game

Sea urchins are covered with spines, which help them to move around, as well as protect them from predators. The spines break off when the urchin dies and the empty tests wash up on the beach. In this game, drag

Sponge Label Game

Often mistaken for plants, sponges are actually animals! In this game, drag the labels to their correct position and learn more about these simple animals.

Sea Snail Label Game

Snails belong to a group of organisms called gastropods, meaning stomach-foot animals. In this game, drag the labels to their correct position and learn more about these animals.

Sea Anemone Label Game

Sea anemones belong to a group of animals called anthozoans, meaning 'flower animals'. They have mouths surrounded by one or more rows of tentacles. In this game, correctly label the sea anemone and discover more about this pretty animal.

Coral Polyp Label Game

Did you know... the structures we call ‘corals’ are actually made up of thousands of tiny invertebrate animals called polyps and their external calcium carbonate skeletons! In this game, drag the labels of the coral polyp to their correct position Follow us on Facebook Fisheries Division Woodside Energy