Sunday, December 26, 2010

TED TALK: Dianna Cohen: Tough truths about plastic pollution | Video on
This really is the bottom line regarding plastics. We must refuse them whenever and wherever possible.There will be some trade-offs. We need to take a step back in time in order to regain our footing. For me the bin liners are a killer. If you have ideas for dealing with kitchen needs send them to me or post a comment on this article. 
Some of the things we can do:
Purchase goods in glass jars and save them for food storage in the fridge.
Use a dish to cover over food in the fridge rather than plastic wrap
There are so many reasons not to use plastics in the freezer but alernatives are challenging -- use foil containers and then reuse them for as long as you can.
If your premises can't manage a compost bin then you might trial digging a small hole in the garden and bury the food waste progressively - it would keep the garden turned over too.

AUSMEPA has a free online Marine Pollution unit of work for middle year students. Click here for more

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sea-Safari: science and nature for everyone in Victoria's Riviera

Now this is the kind of tour I’d love to join – a ‘hands-on’ experience with an expert interpreter! Sea-Safari takes passengers to remote places around the Gippsland Lakes that have no vehicle access. The experience aboard the Lakes Explorer vessel has participants enjoying tour commentary while learning about the remarkable nature of the lakes and estuaries. They will, depending on which tour, be able to participate in research on sea-birds, sea-horses, marine life identification or water test for salinity levels that affect the wildlife. 

Skipper Peter Johnstone knows much about the nature of people, boats and even more about the nature of our coasts. He’s figured out a way of sharing it with all of us in a real immediate and instructive manner. Additionally data that is collected each day contributes to the body of scientific knowledge desperately required to understand how to keep our coasts healthy.

To find our more about Lakes Explorer and Skipper Peter Johnstone click here
or ring 03 5155 5027 or  0458511438   

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Summer by the Sea at Ricketts Sanctuary, VIctoria

15th DECEMBER 2011
Hakan Dellal

Marine Care Ricketts Point Inc. and Beaumaris Life Saving Club

Summer Marine Discovery and Water Safety January 2011 Program

A landmark community “enterprise” at a land mark location. Ricketts Point in Beaumaris this year will be the site for discovery and summer fun with the delivery of a month long marine discovery and water safety program.

Having been awarded funding as part of Bayside City Council’s Community Grants initiative local organizations, Beaumaris Life Saving Club and Marine Care Ricketts Point Inc., are across January 2011 presenting an array of water and coastal activities centered on Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary and some of its more popular beaches.

Sea kayaking, snorkeling, rock pool and foreshore rambles are just some of the activities on offer at Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary, near the Beaumaris Life Saving Club,

Under the guidance of experienced kayakers, divers and marine and coastal educators, those who join in will experience and discover the rich natural history and surprising biodiversity of Victoria’s marine and coastal treasures.

The Beaumaris Life Saving Club will be showcasing ”Nippers” and other activities, enabling children and families to get involved in the fun of life saving, making new friends and learning vital water safety skills all Victorian children and families need being the water loving creatures they are.

All activities are all free and aimed at school aged children, adults, families as well as the disabled.

The sea kayaking activities require booking, see the Marine Care website for dates and contact information.

All other activities can be undertaken without booking on allocated days. Snorkeling, both children and adult sessions will be undertaken off the disabled diver’s ramp near the Beaumaris Yacht Club (Car park B17, Melways Ref Map 86 B8) and led by Churchill Fellow and renowned diver Mike Letch.

All other activities are based around Marine Care’s newly Marine Education Center at Beaumaris Life Saving Club headquarters, established in partnership with the Club. (Car park B18, Melways REF Map 86 C9)

The centre, a facility for public and school education has been designed as an outreach location for use by tour operators who deliver marine, environmental and outdoor education to the schools sector.

Marine Care has utilized many of these tour operators including the Gould league, Dolphin Research Institute, Bay Play, and East Coast Kayaking to lead the summer program activities.

In addition two special Teachers Expo days will be held on the 27th and 28th of January to enable primary and secondary teachers to observe and gather information about programs to compliment their curriculum.

Program operates every weekend in January 2011 starting on the 4th and finishing January 30th. Teacher Expos are 27th and 28th of January.
Sea kayaking bookings 22nd Jan., Bay Play (03) 9598 0888.
Sea kayaking bookings 29th Jan., East Coast Kayaking (03) 9597 0549.
For information and any updates go to

Monday, November 22, 2010

MEDIA RELEASE: AUSMEPA Urges the Government to Introduce More Stringent Regulations for Offshore Petroleum Exploration and Development

 At the AUSMARINE Conference and Exhibition opening inPerth today a joint AUSMEPA presentation by Michael Julian and Kerry Dwyer on Marine Environmental Protection in the Indian Ocean and Internationally urges the Federal Government to introduce mandatory regulations requiring compliance monitoring by regulatory authorities regarding offshore petroleum exploration and development.

Montara platform ABC News
The presentation looks at some of the evidence presented to the Commission of Inquiry into the Montara well head platform explosion off north western Australia which occurred on 21 August 2009. While the Government is still to make public the Commission’s report, evidence presented to the inquiry is available on the inquiry website.

Michael Julian said the evidence presented clearly demonstrates that current legislation is inadequate in that no compliance monitoring is either required or undertaken by the regulator to ensure the exploration and development company complies with the Environment Impact Statement for the drilling operations.

With increased petroleum and gas exploration in the Indian Ocean off Australia’s coastline there is increased risk of further incidents which could cause great harm to the marine environment.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill
 courtesy of NOAA
The joint presentation also looks at the similarities in the evidence presented at various inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. Findings of these inquiries have also demonstrated inadequate compliance monitoring by the regulator. The USA has already taken steps to address this matter, Australia must do likewise.

The AUSMARINE presentation points out that if rig explosions and major oil spills can occur off the coastlines of two of the most technically advanced countries in oil exploration, what hope is there for developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region and globally, where regulatory requirements and local experience is much less.

AUSMEPA also urges the Federal Government, together with other countries, including the USA, to take appropriate action to establish an international regulatory regime for offshore petroleum exploration and development operations.

Such a regime could be undertaken by the United Nation’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) which has had a dramatic impact in reducing pollution of the sea from ship operations in the past three decades.

Editors Note

The Australian Marine Environment Protection Association is a not for profit association which aims to bring awareness to the Australian community about the importance of the marine environment and the need to protect it for future generations. It does this through a range of education programs freely available from its website,

For more information about AUSMEPA please visit our website here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ultramarine - Seahorses

Ocean images often trigger discussion around protection. Here is an Ultramarine YouTube clip of some iconic ocean animals that need our thought, consideration and protection.

Seahorses don't have a tail fin, in fact they are decidedly short of fins. Their heads bend forward and don't line up with their backbone, as it does in other fish, giving them a horsey look. They suck food up through their long straw-like mouths after snapping their tiny jaws shut. Their body armour is made up of scales fused together, a less than appetizing meal for many would be predators. It doesn't help, though, for their biggest problem is people.

All around the world seahorses are loved and collected, either for Asian medicine or keepsakes. Living in shallow coastal waters these little fish are subjected to habitat degradation from land-based activities. Stormwater run-off quality is an often cited  reason. Teachers wishing to incorporate studies on keeping our coastal waters clean will be inspired by AUSMEPA's free online education materials related to Marine Stormwater Pollution - here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Underwater Environmental Noise Course, Brisbane Dec 6 & 7

Underwater noise is an area of environmental pollution that requires the attention of our environmental scientists, engineers, ports and government agencies. The SVT course being offered in Brisbane this year brings together knowledge around the fundamentals of underwater noise and its propagation  through the water. 

The course will describe how noise can affect marine animals, it will describe the auditory structures and bandwidths of various marine animals, and it will also describe common noise sources and their possible impact on marine animals. Guidance will also be provided on the environmental impact assessment process with regards to marine noise impacts.

• Fundamentals of underwater acoustics
• Marine Animals auditory structures and bandwidth (Whales, Turtles and Fish both hearing
specialist and generalists)
• Typical underwater noise sources
• Overview of Underwater Modelling
• Guidelines for assessment

Duration: 2 days
Dates:      6 & 7 December 2010
Location: Unit 23, 160 Lytton Rd, Morningside, Qld  4170
Cost:       $890 plus GST

For further information contact Baz Ismail
Tel:     0894892051
Mob:  0419993233

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


At the recent Annual General Meeting of the Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA), its member elected Captain Conrad Saldanaha, Marine Manager of Origin Energy, as the new Chairman of AUSMEPA.  Captain Saldanha has been actively involved in AUSMEPA since its early days as a Board Member and since December 2006 as Deputy Chairman.

Captain Saldanha said he was honoured to be elected to the position of Chairman and that he hoped to steer AUSMEPA on a successful journey that will deliver on its objectives of a safer and cleaner marine environment through the education of children and seafarers.

Neil Baird will continue providing his support as a roving Ambassador promoting the development of new MEPAs across the world. 

For more information on AUSMEPA look here.

To find out more about the International Marine Environment Protection network look here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MangroveWatching – getting down and dirty for a healthier environment!

by Norm Duke  

A new and exciting program called MangroveWatch has volunteers from all backgrounds and interests getting involved - starting recently in South-East Queensland's Burnett Mary region. The task has been to film vulnerable shorelines using geo-tagged video to create a baseline, and monitor condition of shoreline ecosystems.

Australia’s mangroves are rich in biodiversity and biomass – and, they are among the most extensive in the world. These highly beneficial coastal habitats are also the most pristine, but we should not take this for granted. ‘Times are changing!’ Valuable coastal ecosystems are increasingly threatened – many are lost already! Growing pressures of human influences, like our sea-change shift to northern parts, coupled with global climate change are beginning to show. Now, more than ever, people in local communities are needed to watch over our valuable mangrove and saltmarsh wetlands. 

A new Shoreline Video Assessment Method (SVAM) developed by the University of Queensland’s Mangrove Hub (see:<> ) offers not only baseline imagery, but also report cards of shoreline (mangrove, beach, etc) habitat condition – as indicators of global climate change, disturbance, erosion, storm impacts, pollution, sea level rise, fish habitat, rehabilitation monitoring, and much more.  
Members so far have accounted for around 300 km of estuaries and shorelines in the region. These data have become the baseline reference from which to assess change in the future. After our successful pilot in the Burnett-Mary region, the MangroveWatch team are looking for support to roll out similar schemes across Australia.
Anyone interested in getting involved or in setting up MangroveWatch in their area can visit <>   for more information.

Find Mangrove Watch brochure here

Monday, November 8, 2010

HELMEPA Cadets under the auspices of the General Secretariat for Youth

The Hellenic Marine Environment Protection AssociationΗELMEPA is glad to announce that the General Secretariat for Youth of the Hellenic Ministry for Employment and Social Security places under its auspices the “HELMEPA Cadets”, the new category of volunteers-members for youth 13-30 years old.

The aim of this initiative is to provide the opportunity to youth throughout Greece to become informed about the importance of the marine environment for our country and life on our planet in general, shipping, scientific research and the development of new technologies for the sustainable use of marine resources, as well as opportunities presented for pursuing careers in marine-related professions.

At the same time, HELMEPA Cadets are invited to take part in voluntary activities for the protection of coasts and seasThis way, young people in various parts of Greece who in the past had become members of the “HELMEPA Junior” program, may now continue their environmental activity as liaisons between HELMEPA and local communities in their areas.  Visit the program’s website 

HELMEPA and AUSMEPA (here) are both under the umbrella of INTERMEPA, the International Marine Environment Protection Association (here). Each MEPA employs regionally relevant methods of involving schools and community in the protection of the worlds oceans.

By-The-Wind-Sailors stranded

The interesting thing about this article from San Diego Community News Group - Tidelines Sailors stranded at La Jolla Shores (article and photo by Judith Garfield) is that these remarkable little mariners,  By-The-Wind-Sailors or  Velella velella, also find themselves wrecked on Australian shores as well as many coastlines around the Pacific.

"Scientists believe a mix of both right- and left-handed sailors are born in the central Pacific, then prevailing winds sort the mirror-imaged groups onto opposite sides of the ocean. It’s a good hedge against losing entire populations from blowing ashore, at least not by moderate winds. Winds in the northern hemisphere cycle clockwise, so the sails are typically right-handed. However, if prolonged southerlies or westerlies blow, the sailors may be driven thousands of miles to beach on our coast."

Velella velella are ocean surface communities that feed on plankton and are ocean drifters themselves. To read more about these small jellied hydrozoans click here

If these small predators eat plankton are they taking up microplastics? A recent news article in Hawiian News Now highlights concern about plastics taking up more space than plankton in part of the ocean. Find full article here
Photo from Hawaiian News Now

AUSMEPA is also very concerned about reducing plastic pollution and its effect on marine life. See media release here and they are doing their part to help by providing a free online complete unit plan for teachers wanting to introduce the subject into the classroom here at

Everyone can help by spreading the word.

Friday, November 5, 2010

SCIENCE ALERT: Ecosystems need sharks 

SCIENCE ALERT, Macquarie University. "A study by researchers from the University of California - Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Macquarie University into the human impacts on the health and well being of marine ecosystems has recently been published in the journal American Naturalist."

Blacktip reef shark, Science Alert

"The study reports that when hunted by large predators, such as sharks and snapper, small fish hide and move around less. When predator numbers are seriously reduced, their prey move greater distances, take more risks, and change feeding behaviours. These behavioural responses in prey species also drive significant changes in the balance of ecosystems."

Find more about Ecosystems need sharks (Science Alert) here

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


One of the truly great things going in Australia are the networks of marine environmental education centres here. Here are two Western Australian favourites:

Dolphin Discovery Centre, Bunbury, Western Australia 

The Dolphin Discovery Centre is a non-profit organisation committed to dolphin research, education, conservation and tourism.  The Centre was opened in 1994, and is the first Centre in Australia dedicated entirely to dolphin research. The Centre is located in Bunbury, a thriving city approxi mately 180 kilometres south of Perth in Western AustraliaFacing Koombana Bay to the North, the Centre enables people to interact with Bottlenose dolphins in a variety of ways.

There are up to 100 dolphins living in the Bay and groups of them regularly visit the shallow waters in front of the Centre.  

To find out more about the Bunbury center click here 

Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre – Hillarys Boat Harbour, Western Australia
The NMDC is situated within the Department of Fisheries’ Western Australian Fisheries and Marine Research Laboratories. The display was conceived around three major themes: marine biology and ecology; knowledge-driven management; and people and communities. It contains live exhibits (aquaria), interactive displays, touch screens with high-quality multimedia content, LCD screens, objects, viewing windows into working laboratories, artworks, a gift shop, education programs and a future marine discovery trail linking the Centre with the Aquarium of WA at the southern end of the harbour

To find our more about the Hillarys centre click here

MARINE LABORATORY OPENS: Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre

It is a great thing when science and education can keep so close company. In Eden, NSW, that is just what is happening with the launch of their new Marine Laboratory. Visit this fascinating Marine Discovery Center here to find out more.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Australia’s Coral Sea Red List

Cleaning station courtesy of Guy Shepherd
There was a time when the Coral Sea was primarily known for it's treacherous uncharted reefs. The once terrifying Coral Sea still has many mysteries and stories to discover but our knowledge has increased exponentially in the last 50 years. First we were mystified, then dazzled and now there is growing concern. 

At the southern reach of the Coral Sea the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) here recently held a social dive and snorkel at Flinders Reef, part of the Moreton Bay Marine Park. The event provided both novice and veteran divers alike with a remarkable surprise as they ventured into the rich coral gardens. The underwater vistas of tropical fish, coral and turtles rivaled more famous reefs to the north. 
Photo courtesy of Tony Isaacson

On the outbound journey the visitors were primed with much interesting and valuable information by Reef Check volunteers here, who have been surveying this reef and many other locations for some time.

It has been pointed out, however, that the Coral Sea is not immune to the vagaries that beset our oceans. The following are Quick Facts about the Coral Sea Red List here provided for your information by the Protect Our Coral Sea campaign

Australia’s Coral Sea Home to over 300 Threatened Animal Species:
Quick Facts

·         336 IUCN Red Listed species occur in the Co
ral Sea Conservation Zone (CSCZ). The majority of the species (51%) have decreasing population trends, indicating that they are either slow to respond to protection measures or that protection measures to date have been insufficient to stop their global decline.

·         24 IUCN Red Listed species occur in the CSCZ, including the critically endangered Beck’s Petrel. A fairy tern that resembles the New Caledonia race has been confirmed to occur in the CSCZ. With an estimated 100-200 breeding pairs of this species, the islets and cays of the CSCZ may be habitat for a significant portion of this species[1].

·         219 IUCN Red Listed species occur in the CSCZ. Globally, 229 coral species are listed as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable[2] and 96 (42%) of these occur in the CSCZ.

Dolphins and Whales:
·         There are 26 IUCN Red Listed species that occur in the CSCZ, including the endangered blue, sei and fin whales.  The blue whale is the largest animal on Earth.

Lepoard shark courtesy of AMCS
·         16 bony fish species on the IUCN Red List occur in the CSCZ. The majority of these fish are associated with coral reefs and belong to the grouper family (e.g. Orange-spotted grouper, brown-marbled grouper).  Barry the humphead wrasse, the charismatic spokesfish for the Protect Our Coral Sea campaign, is endangered globally, though populations appear healthy in Australia.  This species is currently taken from the wild for the marine aquarium industry.
·         46 species of shark and ray on the IUCN Red List occur in the CSCZ including the endangered squat-headed hammerhead and scalloped hammerhead sharks.

Marine Turtles:
·         At least five of the seven species of marine turtle occur in the CSCZ. Green turtles are listed as endangered, leatherback and hawksbill turtles are both critically endangered and olive ridley and loggerhead turtles are listed as vulnerable.

[1] Wildiaries Trip Report. 2009. Project Lihou Trip Report.[]. Downloaded on 5th October, 2010.
[1] IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.3. []. Downloaded on 5th October, 2010.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Climate Literacy: "The Essential Principles of Climate Sciences"

Want to know if your perceptions about climate change are on the money? A great site to help you make sure has A Guide for Individuals and Communities and you can find the document here

Teachers: find AUSMEPAs unit plan on the Effects of climate change on coral bleaching here

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Reef Life Survey (RLS) here is a national program that commenced three years ago with the goal of improving marine resource management by developing and resourcing a network of skilled volunteer SCUBA divers to collect reliable and scientifically-credible information on the state of the marine environment. Through the skills and experience of appropriate SCUBA divers, as well as partnerships with relevant management agencies,  RLS strives to facilitate sustainable biodiversity management by providing managers with biodiversity information at spatial and temporal scales beyond those possible by scientific teams (which have to work with increasingly limited resources).

RLS involves only the most enthusiastic and capable amongst the recreational diving community, and provides thorough training and ongoing support for trained volunteers. Because RLS works directly with marine conservation managers, the data collected by RLS divers are directly contributing to management decisions - for example data have already contributed to MPA planning in South Australia and the zoning review for the Lord Howe Island Marine Park. They also formed the baseline for reef biodiversity in the recently declared Cod Grounds Commonwealth Marine Reserve (see, and form part of the ongoing monitoring of many Victorian and NSW marine reserves.

In addition to contributions to biodiversity management, RLS data are used in scientific analyses to tackle questions that require broad-scale standardised data - for example, to establish general principles associated with the effectiveness of MPAs (See the ‘Reports’ section of the RLS website for recent publications). Student projects and collaborative scientific studies are also supported, and continue to build as the RLS database expands.

Following the monumental survey expedition around northern Australia this year, the RLS database now contains species-level data on reef fishes, mobile invertebrates and photo-quadrats of coral and seaweed cover from over 2200 surveys across >1100 sites. This invaluable resource represents the first circum-Australian dataset of marine biodiversity data collected using standardised quantitative methods. These data are freely available to the public for non-profit purposes, so not only managers, but also dive operators, dive clubs  and schools may use these data to look at changes over time in their own local reefs (Please see attached map for distribution of RLS sites around Australia).

Given that an original goal of gathering a continental baseline of reef biodiversity data has been achieved, the priority of the program going forward over the next few years will be to undertake targeted re-surveys of existing priority areas for which we hope to establish long term datasets. It is hoped that approximately 20 locations can be established for long-term monitoring to contribute to reef conditions reports, with numerous sites at each.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

MELBOURNE: Undaria eradication at Apollo Bay and Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project

Photo courtesy of Mark Rodrigue
Our friends at Reef Watch in Victoria here are part of a wonderful brew of cooperative marine educators, managers, scientists and volunteers doing their part to raise awareness of the incredible and highly endemic south eastern coast of Australia. In their latest newsletter they've highlighted project for undaria eradication in Apollo Bay 

The Japapnese kelp,Undaria pinnatifida, is an invasive species that has entrenched itself in Port Phillip Bay and has now been discovered in down Victoria's west coast. The Department of Sustainability and Environment [DSE] have recorded this on their webpage here

Along with another treatment Reef Watch is calling for volunteer divers to hand pull plants on 6-7 and 13-14 Nov. If you can make it along to assist please email Luke as soon as possible at: 

Reef Watch is also listed as a sponsor for a delightful  reef art project on display at the Melbourne Museum (see below).