Thursday, November 22, 2012


AUSMEPA takes pride in their partnership network of friends. One of them is the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI). It seeks to support schools and their communities to become sustainable.
AuSSI engages participants in a whole-of-school approach, to explore through real-life learning experiences, improvements in a school's management of resources and facilities including energy, waste, water, biodiversity, landscape design, products and materials. It also addresses associated social and financial issues.
The Initiative's vision is for all Australian schools and their communities to be sustainable. Find out about the key elements and resources involved.

Become an AuSSI School

How to register as an AuSSI school HERE
Areas of activity - AuSSI is a broad framework incorporating a wide range of activities which help schools and their communities to become more sustainable. Individual schools may choose to focus on certain areas that are of most relevance and interest to their school community.

Visit their website here.

AUSMEPA also invites you to explore free online sustainability units of work that are available free at

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


              Image courtesy of Dept of Sustainability, Environment, Water,Population and Communities

16 November 2012

World's largest network of marine reserves now law

A breathtaking decision by the Australia government has set aside the world's largest network of marine parks and reserves (44) within their marine jurisdiction in an area twice the size of the island continent. Protecting more than 2.3 million square kilometres of ocean environment this law was seen as a brave and insightful strategy benefiting future generations, 

In his announcement Australia's Environment Minister, Tony Burke said, "The declaration of these new marine reserves delivers on an election commitment and represents a major achievement for the long term conservation and sustainable use of Australia's oceans."

Mr Burke also advised, "Even though the new marine reserves have been designed in a way to minimise impacts on industry and recreational users, the Government recognises that there will be impacts on some fishers and we will support those impacted.". 

He also separately outlined how the Australian Government will be allocating around $100 million in fisheries adjustment assistance to support the creation of the network of marine reserves."

Fiona Maxwell, the Australian Marine Conservation Society's (AMCS) Marine Campaigner promptly sent the news to marine conservation networks that, "Today we have witnessed one of the most significant days in Australia's environmental history.".

For more information, go to

Sunday, November 11, 2012

GBRMPA Science Teaching Units cover a range of Reef related topics from Year 1 - 10

AUSMEPA is proud of it's partnership with GBRMPA in marine education and very pleased to share information on their wonderful units of work available for schools.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Science Teaching Units
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Science Teaching Units (Version 0.2), are now available on the GBRMPA web

The focus of these Units has been developed from the Key Focus Areas of the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009. The Units encourage students, teachers and their communities to follow the main aim of Reef Guardians – to be stewards of the environment.

The Science Teaching Units cover a range of Reef related topics from Year 1 - 10:

-       Year 1 - Habitat Investigations
-       Year 3 - Exploring the Reef
-       Year 4 - Endangered Species: Marine Turtles
-       Year 5 - Animal Adaptations
-       Year 6 - Let's go Fishing
-       Year 7 - Wetlands
-       Year 8 - Coral Bleaching
-       Year 9 - Ecosystems and
-       Year 10 - Climate Change.

The Early Years Activities (Foundation Year – Year 2) may be used as single science lessons or to create a series of lessons. The Year 11 and 12 Investigations Tasks may be used as either Extended Experimental Investigations or Extended Research Tasks to support the needs of students in science based units of work.

The content descriptors for these units are from the Australian Science Curriculum Version 2.0 Following the inquiry based 5Es approach to teaching science, the units are based on the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) expectations of a minimum time per week assigned to science lessons for students in each grade level. The overall units or the individual lessons could be extended or shortened to cater for individual classes as deemed necessary by the class teacher. The Units include a resource section with a guide to making judgements and links to QSA Literacy Indicators.

The Science Teaching Units are revolving documents and will continue to be updated as new information becomes available on the Australian Science Curriculum.  

If you are using these Units or parts of the Units we would be interested to hear from you. Please contact if you would like to provide feedback.


Carolyn Luder
A/Project Manager
Reef Guardian Schools
Stakeholder Engagement and Stewardship

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
2-68 Flinders St Townsville |  PO Box 1379 Townsville QLD 4810
Phone:    (07) 4750 0792
Fax:        (07) 4772 6093
Mobile:  0418731989

Sunday, October 14, 2012


The ocean is the largest living space on the planet, covering more than 70 percent of its surface. It is a resilient and dynamic environment, however everything has limits. Marine conservation is a term that refers to protection and preservation and at the core is the understanding that we need to limit and restore the damage.

Why the Ocean is important:
When we start to understand our intimate relationship with the ocean we recognise more clearly that our well being is dependent on the health of the sea and the environmental services it provides for us.

Long before animals appeared on earth, a tiny blue-green bacteria living in ocean was the first to begin to the use the sun’s light for energy it needed to live. The process, photosynthesis, split water molecules. The reaction released oxygen and the cyanobacteria became abundant. Over millions of years this oxygen ‘sweetened’ the atmosphere and made it breathable. Although land plants are significant contributors to it, most of the air we breathe is dependent on ocean processes.

Our early ancestors left sea to live on land and yet it is still very much part of our lives. In fact, we are made of the same stuff. In her book, The Sea Around Us, Dr. Rachel Carson explained that our bodies contain the same chemical elements as sea water in approximately the same proportion.

Dr. Sylvia Earle, whom the New York Times named Hero for the Planet, also provided us with another perspective during her winning TED Talk prize Wish to protect our oceans. [1] Our world’s biggest assets are resources held in the sea. It is a bank holding our future. We need to protect it and keep it healthy.

Australians are responsible for an ocean territory larger than our land mass. Australia is charged with looking after the waters from our coasts outward to 200 nautical miles. As representatives of the community a suite of government agencies enforce laws, regulations, policy to protect our waters. Ultimately, though, it is up to individuals to use their actions and their voices to influence ocean health. First we need to understand what is going wrong, things are out of balance.

The baseline of what is healthy and normal has shifted radically and what one generation knew to be true of their environment is not the same in later generations. It is not merely a matter of evolution.

Human impacts
We extract oil and minerals. We hunt ocean food as individuals, as communities or in commercial quantities using super-sized fishing vessels. Once productive fisheries have already collapsed and 90 percent of biggest fish in the sea are gone. We fish more thoroughly and extensively than at any time in the past.

Although some marine pollution comes directly from ships and boats, most pollution comes from where people live, on the land. 

Ships harbour exotic marine organisms in ballast water and clinging to their hulls. These invaders are turning up in habitats where there are no natural controls, placing pressure on native species with devastating results.

As a result of polluted stormwater run-off, ocean gyres of the world have captured plastics and marine debris that swirl in large slow endless whirlpools of trash. Over 450 dead zones are currently identified.

“On a global scale, approximately 80 per cent of marine pollution arises from land-based activities such as urban development, agriculture, manufacture, transport, energy production and day-to-day domestic activity. Types of pollution include litter and oils, municipal wastewater, nutrients and sediments, radioactive waste, heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants. Once in the marine environment, the pollutants are absorbed by marine life, settle in river mouths and on the ocean floor, or follow currents and eddies to distant locations. The pollutants pay no attention to national maritime boundaries or the sensitivity of the ecosystems they impact upon.” [2]  

The good news is that everyone, at home, work, on the land and off it, can make a difference.

What is being done about it
There are natural systems like vegetated river banks, floodplains, salt marshes, mangroves and inshore seagrasses that act as natural filtering zones for run-off. These systems help to mitigate or halt the flow of harmful pollution riding in and on stormwater run-off.

Scientists assess the health of the marine environment through measures and monitoring of change. They are taking a greater interest in employing community volunteers to help them fill in these knowledge gaps and we are beginning to see a new generation of citizen scientists emerge.

Initiatives that observe and record information about marine animals, plants and habitats around Australia are training the community how to gather data. The facts and figures then feed into information hubs that can help inform management decisions. Participants learn more about their environment; provide a community service and contribute an informed voice to government. School students are one sector taking up the challenge.

Outdoor educators can encourage action. It can be useful to identify local volunteer programs for students by checking with the local council or looking up conservation groups like; Coastcare, Coast Action, Conservation Volunteers. Speaking directly with community groups and volunteer programs may assist students wanting undertake their own conservation initiative. Some coastal conservation leadership tools can be found on AUSMEPA’s website:

Action to conservation marine ecosystems
A marine ecosystem describes an ocean environment that has certain physical features and a network of living things that interact in a balanced manner. Marine ecosystems can be conserved by preventing pollution from the land however important conservation actions can be more direct.

There are many marine conservation groups like; Coral Watch, Ghost nets Australia, Mangrove Watch, Reef Watch or Reef Check, Turtle Care and Seagrass Watch who work in and around coastal waters to protect ecosystems. Prevention is better than cure and remediation is challenging.

Seagrass restoration
Shallow seagrass meadows at the northern and eastern portions of Westernport Victoria vanished in the 1980’s affecting coastal buffering from wave and current action. The community around Westernport Victoria were appalled as seagrass turned to mudflat and erosion noticeably speeded up.

Highly sought after commercial fish species depend on seagrasses as nursery areas. The modest looking seagrass meadows have been described as extremely high output marine food factories. These unassuming true plants have roots, flowers and leaves, unlike the macro algae we call seaweeds. A large numbers of animals shelter in seagrass creating a dynamic web of life. When the seagrass disappeared baby fish weren’t able to find the protection and food they needed. One notable species affected was King George Whiting.

During the time since the die-off some very slow natural regeneration has occurred. Although early community efforts to restore seagrass were unsuccessful, persistence was rewarded. The Westernport Seagrass Partnership[3] working with scientists, government agencies and schools built a growing picture of what the impacts were and what collateral damage occurred. Additionally they were able to trial and improve on what restoration techniques worked and the importance of continuing conservation efforts to protect coastal seagrass meadows for the future.  

Marine Parks and stewardship
Australia is surrounded by one ocean with many names; Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Southern Ocean, Indo-Pacific Ocean, Coral Sea, Tasman Sea, Torres Strait, Bass Strait and more. Around the country there is a growing recognition of the need for safety zones to conserve and protect our marine flora and fauna. Marine Protected Areas (MPA), or wet parks, can have several levels of protection.[4]

Arguably the most important MPAs are ‘no take’ areas that exclude extractive activities like fishing or mining. They are sanctuaries for plants and animals, look but don’t take. They are open to education, scientific research, tourism, recreational activities and have become ‘hope spots’ for the enduring health of the ocean.

There are opportunities for outdoor educators to engage with marine park managers and friends groups. An example of one is Ricketts Point Marine Care.[5] It is made up of people who advocated a representative system of no-take marine parks prior to the turn of the century and were finally rewarded with their own Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary 10 years ago. These enthusiastic people provide community and school based environmental education programs and activities, monitor the health of tidal and sub-tidal reefs and they work with state agencies to ensure that the area is suitably protected from negligent or careless action by others.

The bottom line: adopting a marine park, restoring coastal vegetation or engaging in scientific marine monitoring is not only useful and instructive, it is fun and gives a sense of worth. If you live by the sea and you don’t have a marine park friends group nearby you may want to start one.

Enough for all forever
Australians love the sea; it is part of us, part of our history and will determine our future. Each of us has a part to play in keeping our waters clean and healthy. As individuals we can reduce the amount of waste we produce, reuse or recycle more and pick up three pieces of litter a day. We can make a choice to give back to the planet through participation in community monitoring or restoration efforts. And we can use our individual actions and our words to make sure that governments know how important it is to keep our ocean clean, healthy and sustainable.
The AUSMEPA believes that you and your kids can make a difference. Visit their website for a range of marine education resources including student research units, leadership tools for coastal conservation, literacy readers and school based marine conservation projects will be considered for the Rhondda Alexander Memorial Education Grant.

[2]Diffuse pollution like used packaging finds its way into the environment as litter, and, like sediments, nutrients and toxins, is transported by wind and water to the ocean.
[3] More information Westernport Seagrass Partnership can be found on their website
[4] Range of protection for marine protected areas
[5] Marine Care Ricketts Point

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Plastic Planet - Trailer

How much plastic is in your house, your school, your workplace?
Have you thought about how you could live without it?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CORALWATCH Educational Video Series

Anyone who hasn't had a chance to see this resource is in for a pleasant surprise. The Coral Watch folks have packaged up a terrific series of informational themes about the environment. 

The DVD is reasonably priced and you can find out how to get your own copy here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

POLAR WEEK 16-22 September 2012

The Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) here is made up of many early career polar researchers who often work in isolation. Their major connecting point with others is through their website. What a great opportunity to join them for some great activities during Polar Week 2012 (below).

Join our bi-annual International Polar Week Celebration featuring a variety of presentations and activities September 16 - 22, 2012!
International Polar Week coincides with the fall equinox, one of two times a year when everyone on the planet gets 12 hours of sunlight. We want to celebrate on a global scale by focusing on the science being conducted in the Arctic and Antarctic. Inspired by the many great things that came out of the International Polar Year celebrations, we hope that the bi-annual Polar Week celebration will link people in polar science and polar education.
You can join the celebration in a number of ways
ENGAGE in a GLOBAL activity. Flakes, Blobs, Bubbles: An Ice Core Art Project explores how ice sheets and glaciers form as well as explores why and how scientists study ice. The project is available in several different languages. Participate in the biggest polar event of the year!
CONNECT to the POLES with researchers who are working the Arctic and Antarctic through real-time, interactive, webinar events. Multiple events are scheduled for participation from around the globe.
MAKE broader IMPACTS by joining scientists and educators in online discussions on how to bring the polar regions into the classroom and community.
ACCESS polar week ACTIVITIES and presentations online to share with a school or do in your own classroom.
ASK questions and have them answered by SCIENTISTS that work in the poles! We have over 40 scientist ready to answer your questions!
LAUNCH a virtual balloon and watch our learning community grow! 
LEARN about the current RESEARCH being done in polar education, and how you can get involved duing our discipline of the month webinar.
International Polar Week is brought to you through support from APECSARCUS, PEI, IASC, and SCAR. Thanks to all our supporters!
If you are interested in getting involved or learning more you can contact the APECS Education and Outreach Committee co-chairs, Heidi Roop (roop.heidi at and Teresa Valkonen (teresa.valkonen at

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Coast to Coast, Living on the Edge, Brisbane 17-21 Sept 2012

Coastal conference examines topical development issues

There is still time to get involved in one of Australia’s premier environmental events with the Coast to Coast Conference (C2C) 2012 being held in Brisbane this month.

The preeminent event attracts around 400 scientists, academics, policy makers, managers and community workers from Australia and overseas.

C2C Organising Committee Chair, Dr Mara Wolkenhauer, said with 90 per cent of Australia’s population located on the coast, this year’s theme, Living on the Edge, is extremely relevant.

“For now and the future it pays to remain mindful of how our environmental impacts all eventually lead to the coast. Inland and upstream development, industry and agricultural activity can affect our waterways, most of which ultimately flow to the ocean,” Dr Wolkenhauer said.

“This event offers a forum to explore those challenges and aims to focus debate, discussion and learning at international, national, regional, state and local levels.”

The event will feature internationally acclaimed, historian, novelist and essayist, Ronald Wright, as one of the keynote speakers. His best seller, A Short History of Progress, inspired a recent documentary produced by Martin Scorsese titled, Surviving Progress.

Antony Funnell from ABC Radio National will host a debate “Living on the Edge – coasting along or crisis” examining if progress will push coastal communities over the edge. The debate will feature author Ronald Wright, development industry representative Dr Mark Gibbs, and leading scientists including Prof Hugh Possingham and Prof Bruce Thom, to be later broadcast on ABC Radio National’s Big Ideas program.

Coast to Coast 2012 is at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from September 17-21. For more information visit

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


What a great idea. 
Here is some information on what is happening in Queensland. We'll be there.

Would love to hear back from folks about whether other states are holding yearly resource expositions for educators. Contact Jody at


Teachers wishing they had a blank map to use in classroom discussion will be very happy to find an online resource at WikkiMedia Commons 

The map shown below is one of many. It will be most useful for Australian educators as it is  centred on the Indo-Pacific Region.

Many thanks to WikkiMedia Commons Atlas for making this tool and others like it freely available to the public.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion model

Renewable energy sources are always of interest where they provide a pathway to conservation of  non-renewable resources. One method is to harness temperature change.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is a process used to produce electricity based on the temperature difference between deep cold seawater and warm tropical surface seawater. Because this temperature difference is small, large quantities of seawater are processed with the attractive benefits of firm base load (24/7) power production, no direct carbon emissions and an environmentally sustainable plant that can provide massive levels of energy.  

See more here

Monday, August 27, 2012

TED TALK: Jakki Mohr: How does nature do that? and Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in action

No one can argue with the millions of years that nature has been solving complex problems. This Ted Talk is a must see for people who want to understand how that knowledge can be used to rethink the way we do things. 

I guess it is a matter of just asking nature first.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thanks to Lynchpin for sharing this documentary

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Perpetual Ocean: An Animated Scientific Visualization

We all know about the restless sea however NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with this fascinating model.

Calendar of environmental events 2012

Aussie hearts are tied to the ocean and earth. Most would love to find out about and celebrate the things they wish to conserve and protect. 

The Australian Government's Environmental Events Calendar  (below) has done us a great favour by providing dates of recognised events for the environment during the year. For marine folk the following extract highlights things more relevant to the marine environment up to end of December. 

There is one more event that we should strive to have acknowledged on this calendar - 

World Ocean Day on June 8th. Although it was first initiated in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, it was officially recognized by the UN in 2008 and has been coordinated internationally by The Ocean Project and  the World Ocean Network since then.

Thanks Media Centre!!

Australian Calendar of Environmental Events   

·                            2012 International Year of the Cooperatives 


·                            National Bird Day  - 5th
·                            Australia Day  - 26th


·                            World Wetlands Day - 2nd
·                            The Sustainable Living Festival   - 11th to 26th
·                            Business Clean Up Day   - 28th


·                            Australian Women’s History Month   - all month
·                            Schools Clean Up Day   - 2nd
·                            Sea Week   - 4th to 10th
·                            Clean Up Australia Day   - 4th
·                            Ground Water Awareness Week   - 11th to 17th
·                            World Forestry Day   - 21st
·                            Harmony Day   - 21st
·                            World Water Day   - 22nd
·                            Close the Gap   - 22nd
·                            World Meteorological Day   - 23rd
·                            Ride2School Day   - 23rd
·                            Earth Hour   - 31st


·                            Australian Heritage Week - 14th to 22nd
·                            World Heritage Day   - 18th
·                            Earth Day   - 22nd
·                            Anzac Day   - 25th


·                            OZ' Water Week 2011   - 8th to 10th
·                            World Migratory Bird Day   - 14th to 15th
·                            National Volunteer Week   - 14th to 20th
·                            International Museum Day   - 18th
·                            Walk Safely to School Day   - 18th
·                            International Day for Biological Diversity   - 22nd
·                            National Sorry Day   - 26th
·                            National Reconciliation Week   - 27th to 3rd June


·                            World Environment Day - 5th
·                            Global Wind Day   - 15th
·                            World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought   - 17th
·                            Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development   - 20th to 22nd
·                            Red Nose Day   - 29th


·                            NAIDOC Week   - 1st to 8th
·                            World Population Day   - 11th
·                            Schools Tree Day   - 27th
·                            National Tree Day   - 29th


·                            Jeans for Genes Day  - 5th
·                            International Day for World Indigenous People  - 9th
·                            International Youth Day  - 12th
·                            Keep Australia Beautiful Week  - 22nd to 28th


·                            National Biodiversity Month - all month
·                            National Wattle Day   - 1st
·                            National Landcare Week   - TBA 5th
·                            Sustainable House Day   - 9th
·                            National Bilby Day   - 9th
·                            International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer   - 16th
·                            25th anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol - 16th
·                            Walk To Work Day   - TBA 17th
·                            World Parks Day   - 17th
·                            World Car-Free Day   - 22nd


·                            World Habitat Day   - 1st
·                            World Animal Day   - 4th
·                            National Water Week   - 21st to 27th
·                            National Ride to Work Day   - 17th
·                            International Day for the Eradication of Poverty   - 17th


·                            International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and     
                                                                                                                                 Armed Conflict   - 6th
·                            National Recycling Week   - 12th to 18th
·                            World Fisheries Day   - 21st


·                            International Day of People with Disability  - 3rd
·                            International Volunteer Day  - 5th
·                            Coastcare Week  - TBA
·                            Human Rights Day  - 10th
·                            International Mountain Day  - 11th
For more information on these and other events call toll free  1800 803 772
or visit the website at