Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Container Deposit Scheme helps keep beaches clean

Australia is surrounded by sea. Disused packaging inevitably finds its way to the sea and back onto our beaches.

In years gone by Victoria had a return bottle and can for cash scheme which unfortunately was rescinded many years ago. They do have an active recycling program and some scrap metal businesses will buy cans for cash.

However South Australia who started their scheme in 1977 are now celebrating forty years in protecting the environment in this way. See more here

In 2012 the Northern Territory started a Cash For Containers program that has been going great guns and substantially reducing the number of containers going to tips or let loose into the wild.

Western Australia is going for a Cash-for-can recycling scheme where people will receive 10 cents for returning beer and spirit bottles, soft drink cans and various non-alcoholic bottles as well as small, flavoured milk cartons.

New South Wales with their Return and Earn and Queensland with their single use plastic bag band and Cash for Cans programs are coming on-board now too. 

Here is a map provided by Wikipedia showing the recent changes and how Australian states and territories are moving toward South Australia's lead.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Port of Brisbane's project to protect run-off water quality to the bay

The Port of Brisbane have been doing some great things to offset the challenges of water quality in Moreton Bay, Queensland.
And it starts upstream!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How We Can Keep Plastics Out of Our Ocean | National Geographic

National Geographic has excellent informational resources. Here is one on pollution entering the sea. Packaging and various chemicals have been a boon and a scourge as they take their place alongside of the natural flotsam and jetsam.

How do we turn a problem into a solution? Here are some ideas.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

TROPHIC CASCADE: How whales change climate

If you haven't been following any stories on Trophic Cascading then please view these videos. They are amazingly profound. We've long talked about food webs and their importance however these videos provide a depth of understanding that has been missing in the lay person's understanding. It shows us so clearly and makes us more fully aware of what tampering with these chains or webs can mean in a more holistic sense.

The first clip is a MUST SEE about whales and how their lives impact on us.

The second clip is just as amazing and speaks how wolf populations in North America affect water quality and upstream river integrity.

The third is a trophic cascade study of sharks and seagrass that took place in Shark Bay, Western Australia.

From the Catchment to Corner Inlet

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority has put in some great partnership work to help protect the health of a world class wetland at Corner Inlet, Victoria. This video shows water quality improvement from the farms to the coastal segrass through awarness and action.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dive against debris -- app for your phone

The following interesting article from the Project Aware newsletter here tells us about a new innovation for Citizen Science for divers.
The Marine Debris issue is a critical aspect of keeping our oceans clean, free and safe.

After a dive the information about the debris collected is reported through the Dive Against Debris app. The app will even store your information until you are able to get an internet connection.

The information about the collected rubbish becomes part of a global data set that will help drive long term change.

Project Aware have provided the following information links also.

Dive Against Debris app from  Google Playor iTunes.

App Store: Dive Against Debris      Google Play: Dive Against Debris App

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Yellow Crazy Ants - sea cargo hitch hikers

The following information comes from the Queensland Government website here 
"Native to Africa, the yellow crazy ant has a long body and very long legs and antennae. Its name comes from its erratic walking style and frantic movements, especially when disturbed. Yellow crazy ants can disrupt natural environments, affect the horticulture industry, and cause skin and eye irritations. They are found throughout the Pacific region and on Christmas Island, and are most commonly transported inside sea cargo."
Native crabs are particularly under threat as well as native birds, other animals and plants. The large aggressive ants husband sap sucking insects and can spray harmful formic acid.
"The yellow crazy ant is listed as one of the world's 100 worst invasive alien species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature."
"They have spread extensively in Queensland since they were first discovered in Cairns in 2001. Despite Biosecurity Queensland’s ongoing treatment and surveillance, eradicating yellow crazy ants is no longer considered possible in Queensland. Efforts will now focus on working with councils, industry and landholders to manage yellow crazy ants and their ongoing impacts."

Yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) - Photo courtesy of Invasive Species Council

Seen in many parts of northern Australia possibly the worst affected is Christmas Island and our iconic Christmas Island red crabs. To protect our crabs and other natives be alert and advise the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries here.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Poleward Shift; What does it mean in our ocean?

What is  poleward shift? 

Basically it tells us that things will gravitate more towards either the north or the south pole.

Joseph Kidston, Lecturer, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW says in The Conversation"The Earth’s principal climatic zones appear to be shifting poleward. If this continues, as climate models project, the weather patterns that give rise to deserts in the subtropics, and stormy wet weather in the mid-latitudes, will move towards the poles of the Earth."

What does that mean in our coastal areas?

University of Tasmania IMAS Honours student Hannah Fogarty published a report in the journal Global Change Biology that has shown initial reports of fish appearing in waters they are not usually found are a sign of "impending species-wide change, with major implications for local ecology and fishing industries."

Ms Fogarty says, " Climate is leading to global changes in species distribution patters and reshuffling of biodiversity is already well underway."

She also advised in the article that new marine species arriving in an area may become pests and change the local ecosystem. This might also provide new opportunities for fishing or recreation.

How can you help monitor the change?

Image courtesy of What's new at Redmap 
In Australia there are people who are actively looking at what that means in our unique coastal waters. Redmap here introduces some excellent citizen science looking at poleward shift using diving enthusiasts to record data. 

In a recent communication What's new at Redmap? they tell us some of the unusual recent sightings include tropical leather jackets in Tasmania, baby Ocellate Butterflyfish in Perth and that Coral Cod noted in New South Wales.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Open House, SA Marine Discovery Centre

July 2nd, Sunday Open at the Henley Beach SA Marine Discovery Centre

Open afternoon from 2:30pm to 3pm and a Marine Trail from 3pm to 4pm.

The Centre has local marine creatures including seahorses, moon jellies, Port Jackson shark, Blue Devils and much more. 

The Centre provides a wide variety of interactive learning experiences.

The Marine Trail is a guided marine discovery walk along our local beach, it’s amazing what can be discovered!

Cost: $10 per person

Seniors/Concession: $5 per person

Bookings essential:
Click here to book

Where: corner of Seaview Rd & Marlborough St,

Henley Beach

The Chirp - Tropical Water Quality Hub

The Chirp - an e-news communication from the National Environmental Science Programme (NESP). They have information that will be of special interest to marine enthusiasts and educators. Below we share an interesting article on the Great Barrier Reef and the TWQ Project.

NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub  Us and the Reef: Understanding Human Dimension Indicators

"A Tropical Water Quality Hub project aims to make sense of the vast range of ‘human dimension indicators’ on the Great Barrier Reef so scientists can track their efforts to protect this vital natural asset. Nearly all current efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef fall under the Australian Government’s Reef 2050 Plan. Four of the plan’s seven themes (‘Governance’, ‘Community’, ‘Heritage’ and ‘Economic Outcomes’) are ‘human dimensions’ in that they centre on the relationship between humans and the reef."

"There are major knowledge gaps in these areas, including understanding of regionally specific human dimensions, Indigenous cultural values and how reef-dependent communities react to unforeseen impacts such as mass bleaching events. TWQ Project 3.2.2, led by Professor Allan Dale at James Cook University’s Cairns Institute, aims to establish a comprehensive framework of environmental, social, cultural and economic outcomes that can be tested by reef researchers and managers to track progress under the Reef 2050 Plan."

Be sure to click on the TWQ Project 3.2.2. link above to find out more about this project.

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.

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:

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.

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

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

National Science Week 12-20 August 2017 school theme: 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.

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.

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

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!

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