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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sharks can promote seagrass health

There is a substantial volume of evidence that shows us the importance of seagrass. Seagrass meadows are food factories and the nursery areas for many important commercial species.
They also are one of the three key coastal buffering systems around the Australian coastline reducing erosion and helping to mitigate the effects of pollution collected by run-off that flows down to receiving waters, estuaries and the ocean.

Australia is very lucky to have about half the world's kinds of seagrasses and it is important to our own health that we keep these dynamic systems healthy too. Surprisingly sharks play a role in this balancing act.



www.ausmepa.org.au

How can whales change the climate?

Please find a stunning video describing how the trophic cascading around the declining number of whales affects ocean systems. 



A similar video showing how wolves changed rivers can be found at: 
https://youtu.be/ysa5OBhXz-Q

We need to recognise the need for top predators in order to keep the ecological balances in place. Another way that people can contribute to waters healthy on the land and sea.



www.ausmepa.org.au

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Inland rail and ports

A hot topic in relation to operating ports optimally is the issue of rail infrastructure.

Australian ports provide vital import and export services that we depend on and a remarkable number of jobs are provided in and around ports too. We often underestimate just what good well functioning ports mean to our quality of life however, as with all other human activities, we cannot ignore the environmental price.

As service providers ports need to cater to the needs of ships as well as the communities around them. This isn't always an easy task often from the middle of busy cities and congestion. Efficient operation as well as environmental concerns are always at the forefront of good community relations so reducing environmental impacts is high on the list.

We know that ships provide the least environmental impact of any transport for delivering large quantities of goods from one part of the world to another. Four times more efficient than rail and 20 times more efficient than road. Understandable when we consider how much easier it is for ships to basically glide across the water in a relatively frictionless way.

However when goods need to be unloaded or indeed loaded from ports, what kind of infrastructure will provide the best services in moving the goods to and from ports? Rail is the winner and it needs to feed the ports efficiently from inland agricultural centres, cities and mining areas. We can't do without trucks either so effective efficient roads to and from the ports will help too. Excellent planning and maintenance will help to reduce the collateral pollution.

There is currently a 'big push' for government to allocate funding to this issue however it will be an expensive investment, competing with the prioritisation of passenger services. It has been suggested that separate freight lines direct to the ports may be the best outcome.

See an interesting pdf from the Australian Rail Track Association (ATRC) here











www.ausmepa.org.au

Student art activity; Undersea Cave

Plastic pollution enters the food chain at the most basic level. The plastic breaksdown into tiny particles that are eventually taken up by filter feeding organisms who are then eaten by larger and larger animals up the chain. This art exercise demonstrates pervasive waste in the marine environment.


 Undersea Caves:

Rocky reefs are havens for many primal animals and algae. Possibly the most common type of small animal clinging to a reef are those who have polyps. The polyps can be anything from sea anemones and sea jellies to the delicate hydrozoa and their coral relatives.

There are many other animals and plants that make underwater caves places of wonder and surprise, crabs, snails, snakes, nudibranchs (seaslugs) and fish of countless descriptions. All are at risk from plastic pollution.

       
         Photo courtesy of Marine Care Ricketts Point
Photo courtesy of Simply Tour














Undersea Caves:

Rocky reefs are havens for many primal animals and algae. Possibly the most common type of small animal clinging to a reef are those who have polyps. The polyps can be anything from sea anemones and sea jellies to the delicate hydrozoa and their coral relatives.

There are many other animals and plants that make underwater caves places of wonder and surprise, crabs, snails, snakes, nudibranchs (seaslugs) and fish of countless descriptions. All are at risk from plastic pollution.

 
What you need:
Clean disposable PET or PETE (Polyethylene terephthalate) bottles of the right shape and size for your project. You can use colourless or incorporate colours as the bottles are available
A flat surface area with a protective covering that can withstand high temperatures
A roll of Baking Paper (parchment paper).
A household iron
A canvas shape (inexpensive ones can be found in discount shops like Sam's Warehouse, Reject Shop, Discounts Galore)
Bubble wrap
Packing noodles (starch ones) and nurdles (plastic beans)
A variety of waste and recyclable odds and ends
Small brush &  water to clean brush
Paper towels
Acrylic colours, or writing pen ink or water colours
glue gun

What to do:
Draw a design on your canvass
Paint background
Create invertebrate and vertebrate community on cave walls and in open water background
Use hot glue gun sticks to adhere organisms onto canvas




www.ausmepa.org.au

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

National Science Week 12-20 August 2017 school theme: Future Earth

Image

FUTURE EARTH


The earth's systems are always in flux and changing to one degree or another. This year's National Science Week is focusing on sustainability issues around Australia and our region and how systems respond to change.

Our water world, the hydrosphere, is interconnected to the biosphere, geosphere and atmosphere. None stand alone and this interdependence is to be appreciated and explored during National Science Week.

The Australian Association of Environmental Educators (AAEE) recent newsletter advises that
AAEE Treasurer Angela Colliver and her team created a National Science Week Resource Book, FUTURE EARTH to highlight sustainability issues that are unique to our region in and around Australia.

Teachers looking for more information on the resources should visit the Australian Science Teachers Association here

The ocean needs our help.


























www.ausmepa.org.au

Friday, March 17, 2017

Seeking Ambassadors for CoralWatch

CoralWatch are opening up a workshop for teachers and students (15+yrs) wanting to do their part in keeping track of the health of our corals. We all know there are threats, would you like to be part of the solution?

There is a Teacher Professional Development workshop 13-14 May (Keppel) for senior science, marine, geography teachers. The PD Includes lectures, hands-on and field activities as well as NEW curriculum linked materials for grade 7 and aquatic practices.

Following that there will be a full on CoralWatch Ambassador workshop 24-28 May on Heron Island. Applications are open until March 28 and Ambassadors will be trained to help run events, collect data, visit schools and other outreach activities, helping the core staff and more important our wonderful reef on a voluntary basis.

This invitation is extended to teachers as well as grade 11-12 students (who need to be 15yrs +QLD based only). Students may find that this will be a way to enhance their resume with gained skills and experience while having the enjoyment of being involved in marine conservation.  http://www.coralwatch.org/web/guest/ambassador

To express your interest please contact:
  
Diana Kleine
CoralWatch - Project Manager (Mon-Wed)
Queensland Brain Institute
The University of Queensland | St. Lucia | QLD 4072 | Australia
M +61 402 385 391|+617 336 54522







www.ausmepa.org.au

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Coral Watch; You can become a citizen scientist


AUSMEPA is a proud partner with Coral Watch. Their work engaging the community (that's any or all of us!) in monitoring of corals either as individuals or dive or school groups is now easy and fun. 

Here's a video to show you how you might contribute.



Consider this also a call to action for our marine enthusiasts in southern waters where little monitoring is done. We need your information too!



www.ausmepa.org.au

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Protecting the health of the sea also protects Australia's biodiversity; Ruby Seadragon

AUSMEPA is dedicated to marine environmental education and employs partnerships in its efforts to protect the coastal and ocean waters of Australia from the impacts of land based activities as well as helping encourage a high safety and environmental standard for those living and working on the sea.

Australia is unique in so many ways, not the least of which is in her ocean territory. That vast 200 nautical mile Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) is home to a wonderful array of tropical and temperate species of plants and animals. Some we don't even know exist yet. 

Keeping Australian waters as pristine as possible ensures that we get the chance to be awed by new zoological discoveries too. In February 2015 a collected specimen of seadragon was discovered to be a new species! Although bright red its shape is the same as the other two however it doesn't have the leaf-like appendages we associate with them and lives in deeper water. 

The photo above was published in the Australian Geographic on March 15, 2015 just a month after the taxonomy change. See the article here

The hunt was on then, to find a live specimen. The team from Scripps Institute of Oceanography (in my hometown) of La Jolla, California, gave it their best and came up with the first recorded sighting of a live Ruby off Western Australia.  



This is simply another validation for our continuing effort to keep our unique Australian oceans clean and healthy through AUSMEPA's work in marine education on marine pollution.

Thanks Zoe Della Vedova and Australian National Geographic and of course dedicated researchers at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

As an aside I'd like to thank Scripps Institute also for strongly influencing my early life through community outreach as well as the opportunity to work with Mr Wisner in 1968 sorting deep water trawls from the South Pacific. It gave me purpose and eventually lead me to AUSMEPA.

Jody Plecas
Education Officer, AUSMEPA
www.ausmepa.org.au