Sunday, December 22, 2019

Educators: International Ocean Literacy Portal

11.07.2018 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

IOC-UNESCO launches new one-stop shop Ocean Literacy Portal

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO is pleased to announce the launch of the Ocean Literacy Portal. This Portal has been developed to provide a one-stop shop for ocean literacy worldwide, by sharing existing global ocean knowledge. The resources will be accessible to citizens worldwide, from different backgrounds and of all ages, from students to educators, from researchers to policy makers.

Ocean literacy is defined as the understanding of our influence on the ocean and the ocean’s influence on us. Ocean literacy is a way not only to increase the awareness of the public about the ocean, but it is as an approach to encourage all citizens and stakeholders to have a more responsible and informed behaviour towards the ocean and its resources. It is not just knowledge about the state of the ocean but a deeper understanding of our individual and collective responsibilities to take care of the ocean.
The ocean literacy framework and approach has been developed by a group of educators and scientists in the United States, and then taken up, and adapted by European, Asian and African scientists and educators. While all these organizations and associations have been critical to promote ocean literacy nationally and regionally, the need for an international collaboration and exchange of good practices and experiences led to the engagement of UNESCO in ocean literacy, both through its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and its Education Sector.
The high-level United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development, convened at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 5 to 9 June 2017, provided the platform to further promote the ocean literacy concept and framework internationally. A voluntary commitment #OceanAction15187, “Ocean Literacy for All: A Global Strategy to Raise the Awareness for the Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainable Use of Our Ocean”, was submitted by UNESCO in partnership with many institutions and other relevant partners. The main aim of the initiatives outlined in the Voluntary Commitment is to develop a global partnership to improve public knowledge across the world citizenry regarding our global ocean.
In this context, IOC has, at the occasion of the 51st session of its Executive Council, launched the Ocean Literacy Portal, developed with the support of the Government of Sweden. The Portal will serve as one-stop shop for ocean literacy worldwide to share resources, news and information about events and projects that are relevant for all ocean stakeholders, from different backgrounds and of all ages. The Portal has been built to respond to the need of the ocean literacy community to have access to educational resources that are based on rigorous scientific knowledge, that cover different themes, e.g. marine litter, ocean observation, marine policy, and that are useful for different users, such as educators, scientists, journalists, policy-makers and representatives of the private sector.
In addition, the Portal users will have the opportunity to register for a collaborative workspace. Through the Ocean Literacy Collaborative Workspace – UNESTEAMS, experts from all around the world will be able to work directly with fellow members by co-working on topics and ideas and co-creating and developing new joint projects. This is a further step towards creating a collaborative network.
“It is our hope that this platform will contribute to further information and communication regarding the understanding of our ocean,” said Francesca Santoro, IOC Programme Specialist in charge of ocean literacy activities.
For more information, please contact:
Francesca Santoro (f.santoro(at)
Teachers looking for resources the Online Ocean Literacy Toolkit can be found at:

AUSMEPA has several units of work for students and teachers on our website

Australian Marine Educator represents in Decade of the Ocean planning

MANY thanks to Victorian colleague, Mr Harry Briedahl, who attended the recent UNESCO workshop in Venice on behalf of marine educators in Australia. Educators were gathered in Venice to contribute to the roadmap.

13.07.2018 - UNESCO Venice Office

Roadmap for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO is working to prepare the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. At the IOC’s Executive Council in Paris, member states approved the roadmap, in which ocean literacy plays a central role. There is a need to commit to a greater investment in ocean science, to encourage the scientific community, the public and policy makers to think ahead and aspire to real change. The decade will help us deliver the ocean we need for the future we want. Youth will be central in this process.

From 3 to 6 July 2018, the 51st session of the Executive Council of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO undertook major scientific and policy discussions and deliberated on important themes. On the agenda: ocean science requirements for addressing climate uncertainty, ocean observations and data, early warning and preparedness against tsunamis, multiple stressors affecting marine life, and strategies and tools for science-based ocean planning.
Furthermore, one of the main drives was to define the action plan in view of the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), proclaimed by the United Nations to gather ocean stakeholders worldwide under a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 14 on the ocean.
The proclamation of the decade was made necessary because of the increasing need to support and encourage the many aspects of ocean science, especially due to current data on ocean health. As mandated by the UN General Assembly, IOC is coordinating the decade’s preparatory process, inviting the global ocean community to plan for the next 10 years in ocean science and technology to give new generations a chance to live in a sustainable planet.
After the debate, the 39 Member States of the Executive Council – acting on behalf of the 149 Member States of the IOC – as well as observers unanimously voted in favour of initiatives aimed to emphasize the importance of marine sciences for society. According to Francesca Santoro, IOC Programme Specialist, “the objective is to have people understand the importance of oceanography, and that ocean sciences are fundamental in ocean-related services such as fishing, transport and tourism”.
If oceanography is of utmost importance, so is education to raise awareness and forge minds. Ocean Literacy is an essential component of the Ocean Science Decade. Member states voiced the importance of youth in this process. The IOC project office at the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), is focusing on Ocean Literacy and currently introducing it into school curricula in 36 countries around the world.
All countries are now aware that our ocean is in danger, making decisions is urgent and we must act. Most of all, we must transform knowledge and scientific research in concrete actions”, said Santoro. “We aim to engage private sectors, politics and all citizens to create a deep-rooted sense of common knowledge”.
With a greater understanding of the science, we must also reinforce our work on ocean literacy, so that decision-makers can fully take advantage of scientific research in order to affect real policy change.” , said UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, at the opening of the 51st Session of the IOC Executive Council.
Our life and scientific research are closely connected. It is thanks to scientific research that we can make marine weather forecasting today, and detect tsunamis in advance to issue warnings in areas, which are subject to such environmental events. This is only one of the many examples as to how scientific research and our daily lives are closely connected.
Walter Munk, a pioneer in ocean research, was ready to remind us of this strong relation in occasion of the Roger Revelle Memorial Lecture held on 5 July during the IOC Executive Council. “The Allies put their strength and knowledge together, working for a common goal, reversing the outcome of the war”, disclosed Walter Munk. His work during World War II focused on wave forecasting and calculation may seem trivial, but in reality, it was essential for American boats to reach the beaches safely.
According to the 100-year-old scientist Munk, working together for a common goal is the key to facing the challenges of ocean pollution and global warming. It is vital to turn scientific research into concrete action. In the words of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, more than ever protecting the ocean requires us to think globally and collectively. We must join our forces, share our knowledge and embrace the cause of the Ocean to shape a future where humankind and seas benefit from each other.
During the plenary, Rosalia Santoleri, president of the Italian Oceanographic Commission, announced that Italy will be taking part in the preparations for the Decade. A workshop involving all nations facing the Mediterranean Sea will be planned, with coordination from Rome, and an agenda of initiatives starting January 2021 will be laid out.
The ocean is yet to be explored. Only 5% of the ocean floor has been mapped at high resolution and it is estimated that 1 million marine species are still unknown to science. Regardless of the great amount of research available today, our knowledge is still insufficient to manage biodiversity in 99% of habitable marine environments There are only 3 people in the world who have explored the deepest known point of the ocean. This information alone should be motivation enough to start acting and not only to respect our ocean, but also to discover it. We can all be a part of it, 2021 is not far off.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

INTERCONNECTEDNESS - what does that mean?

INTERCONNECTEDNESS - Goodness, that is a mouthful!

If you don't get a feel for this word perhaps you've heard the term interdependence, another mouthful, or more specifically, ecosystem services. The invisible axiomatic truth is that pretty much everything is connected to everything else. That may be in a primary sense, right here right now, or manifest as a kind of ripple effect off to the side or into the future. Simplistically we might refer to this as a domino effect.

The images below illustrate how we NEED to have healthy environmental systems, plants and animals, in order to have a chance for healthy lives ourselves. And sometimes, as in the case of Mangroves, we have for many years simply treated them with disdain. Below you can see a summary, written for a US audience, of how mangroves help us and what threatens them.

Below gives an inkling of the negative things happening everyday across world mangroves.

[These images were taken from the IUCN website article referencing the importance of mangroves at ]

This earth we live on has such a complex, diverse and enigmatic web of interconnected effects. Everything we do affects this place we live.

People have been working on understanding what when why and how these connections work over the entire evolution of humankind. Which are the things that effect our health and well-being and those things that are detrimental.

Human inventiveness and adaptability has affected those natural systems and their often hidden interconnections have affected our planet. Fire gave us comfort, better health and protection from animals who might eat us and it can burn forests down. Being able to grow crops has given us a steady food source and it has drained rivers and polluted receiving waters and lead to a changed pattern of eating.

Who would have thought that it took about 3,000 litres of water to get that yummy burger into your mouth? 

The more there are of us, the more changes we make. The statistics tell us that there are about 7.7 billion people on earth today, an increase of 6.1 billion people in only 117 years. The environmental systems that make the world habitable for us, producing breathable air, food, clean water, ARE struggling under the weight of our human numbers.

Is the climate changing? Well, clearly, it always does. Are we affecting the changing climate in ways that are different to past history? How could we not with the burgeoning number of people on the planet?

Humankind are such smart creatures. It's time to take stock of our interconnectedness. We will need to pull in our belts and make some brave decisions to look after mother earth and the cradle of the sea in order to ensure our own life on earth.

Monday, November 25, 2019

REDMAP; Keeping an eye on change

What is
The Redmap website invites you to share sightings of fish and marine critters that you think are ‘uncommon’ and do not usually live along your coastline. Over time, Redmap will use your ‘citizen science’ data and photos to sketch a picture of Australian fish and marine species that may be extending their distribution range – a.k.a shifting house - in response to changes in the marine environment, such as warming seas.

Redmap allows Australians to collect their own marine data, share stories and upload photos of ‘unusual’ sightings. Redmap is science created by the people for the people

It is really exciting to see what people discover and how things are changing in the ocean.

You should take a peek at

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Below you can see the flyer for this seasons Victorian FISH COUNT by ReefWatch and Parks Victoria. If you live down south you'll find that it is a fun activity to help keep track of what is going on in Port Phillip Bay at Portsea.


Hi Jody,

The 2019 Great Victorian Fish Count is here!

Dive and snorkel groups across the state will be taking part in the annual Great Victorian Fish Count over the next 4 weeks. We're also thrilled to be offering special 'For Beginners' and 'Wild Families' Great Victorian Fish Count activities as part of the program. See all the details below. 
Every year, hundreds of people take part in Victoria's largest marine citizen science event to create a snapshot of the species that call Victoria's coastal waters home
This year, the Ornate Cowfish is the 'face' of the Great Victorian Fish Count, Victoria's largest marine citizen science event. These colourful cowfish remind everyone that our marine life rocks and with many opportunities to explore the Great Southern Reef and other spectacular natural marine habitats all along Victoria's coast during the fish count, who knows what else you'll find out there.
The Great Victorian Fish Count is on from 16 November to 15 December, so it's time to jump in the water now! 
You can find a fish count event near you here
The Count has been running since 2002, led by the Victorian National Parks Association in partnership with Museum Victoria, Parks Victoria, Coastcare Victoria, RedMap, local dive operators and local community groups with support from the Victorian Government. 

Special Wild Families Great Victorian Fish Count activities

'Wild Families', The Victorian National Parks Association's family nature program, is thrilled to be hosting Great Victorian Fish Counts for families with kids over 8 years old. The snorkelling event will be led by Dive2U with all equipment supplied (but bring your own wetsuit if you can).
When: Sunday 24 November 10am and 12 noon
Where: Rye Pier
Cost: VNPA members free, VNPA non-members $10 per person or $25 per family. (You can join VNPA membership here.)
For bookings (essential as numbers are limited) contact AJ Morton, or 0409 411 299.

Special Great Victorian Fish Count activities for beginners

This year, the Victorian National Parks Association is encouraging people to give the Great Victorian Fish Count a try for the first time and experience the unique marine life in Port Phillip Bay. With our partners Bayplay we are hosting a special activity at Portsea Pier.
When: Saturday 7 December 10am or 12noon
Where: Portsea Pier, 3755 Point Nepean Rd, Portsea

Cost: VNPA members free, non-members $10 per person or $25 per family. (You can join VNPA membership here.)
Registration essential at or (03) 5984 0888
Beginner snorkellers welcome.
We’d love you to join us!
Nicole Mertens
ReefWatch Project Officer
(03) 9341 6509
ReefWatch is our marine citizen-science program training volunteers like you to collect important information about Victoria's unique marine life.
Find out more here.
ReefWatch is a program of the Victorian National Parks Association.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


Following a successful presentation at The World Maritime University in Malmo, AUSMEPA Executive Office, Julie Nash traveled on to Greece where she met with founding INTERMEPA members the Helenic Marine Environment Protection Association - HELMEPA

HELMEPA and AUSMEPA have a special bond. AUSMEPA, formed in the year 2000, is one of many offshoots from the original innovative Greek association formed in 1982. 
That's 37 years of educating, acting and changing behaviour! 

Additionally first Chairman of AUSMEPA was Captain Michael Alexander, who was raised in Greece. Captain Alexander lead AUSMEPA through some creative early years and stayed on in an advisory capacity for many years afterwards.

HELMEPA has done a remarkable job in demonstrating how the Greek community could and would make a difference to their coastal waters and shores. 

While visiting the HELMEPA education centre Ms Nash interacted with Greek students who showed a strong desire to help their environment. One activity undertaken regularly is beach clean-up. 

Thanks HELMEPA for leading the way and giving us all a wonderful example of how a motivated community can make a difference.  You can visit the HELMEPA website here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


The Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA) wowed the audience of the Global Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCC ) Network Project gathered in Malmo Sweden during the first week of October this year.
 AUSMEPA's Executive Officer, Ms. Julie Nash, took the stage to unveil the Marine Emissions Portal - Australia's MEP.

The members of the MTCC project came from universities, organisations and agencies from around the world for a Seminar on Trends and Challenges following the Paris Agreement to and to look at information that could help them reach their environmental targets.

Ms Nash said "It was truly an honour to be before this group who are dedicated to raising the bar on the environmental outcomes for the ocean."
The audience enthusiastically responded to her presentation and the MEP was given an opportunity to demonstrate how ship emissions could be monitored in real time - right here, right now.  
The dashboard for the MEP then went live on stage and was able to show sulphur, nitrogen, carbon and particulate matter emissions from ships at one of the participating pilot ports.
"This tool is a game changer," Julie said, "as it has been expensive and untimely for ports and decision makers to review emissions from ships in the past. The MEP tool will change all of that. It relies on AIS tracking (through Oceaneering) and big data (through Rightship). The operation has been rigorously trialled and validated independently. Now benchmarking for emissions will be easy and can be reviewed with the most up to date information available."
"MEP was developed with seed funding achieved through the Google Impact Challenge Australia grant win in 2016.
AUSMEPA, a not for profit, is largely an environmental education organisation developing educational materials for schools and for the maritime sector. As a country that relies on international shipping, emissions are an important community issue.” 
“In order to drive the project forward we have the perfect partner in Rightship who are committed to reducing risks for a cleaner safer maritime industry. As a result Rightship, based in Melbourne, have taken inquiries and orders from around the world.” Julie said. 

AUSMEPA are incredibly proud of this new tool and from the audience response it is set for significant uptake as a useful, relevant and relatively inexpensive tool.

The Seminar was funded by the European Union (EU) with implementation by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), AUSMEPA thanks the IMO for the invitation to speak as well as sponsors Rightship and consultants Oceaneering for making this tool come to life.Their help made it possible to develop an innovative tool that will contribute to air quality as well as keeping our oceans healthy.

Monday, September 16, 2019

BIODIVERSITY MONTH - What can you do to help the marine environment?

The 2016 State of the Environment report states that: "Three coastal or marine ecosystems were listed as threatened ecological communities under the EPBC Act during the past 5 years: 
Saltmarsh rehabilitation Townsville

• the Giant Kelp Marine Forests of South East Australia (2012) and 
      Posidonia australis seagrass meadows of the Manning–Hawkesbury ecoregion                (2015) were listed as endangered 
Subtropical and Temperate Coastal Saltmarsh (2013) was listed as vulnerable

Biodiversity creates a balance, a give and take, that gives our lives stability and health. These and other marine systems protect biodiversity, one of the keys to humanities survival. 

Our very good friends in South Australia put out a great newsletter and like many of us they are focusing on biodiversity month.They brought up some very good points in their recent article.

"strong urban ecosystems – including a wide variety of native plants, animals and insects that enhance biodiversity values – are good for the humans who live in our cities and suburbs.The more variation in vegetation, the more variation in the animal life it will attract – which in turn increases valuable ‘services’ such as plant pollination. Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behaviour. It helps reduce anxiety and stress, boosts our attention span and creativity, and increases our ability to connect with other people"

Having healthy coastal and marine waters also provides us, and other animals, with life sustaining services. The health of these systems is eroding. We see it almost everyday on the internet and on the news but what can we do about that? We live on the land and that marine environment is way out there under the water!

What we CAN do is be mindful of our choices on the land since everything we do on the land affects the sea sooner or later! We can be proactive and make some changes to encourage better biodiversity locally; at your house, on your street and in your community.

1. Eliminate or reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers which leach off the land and into the stormwater run-off. Check online to see if you can find some of the do it yourself remedies for garden issues. 
    • worm farms can chew up kitchen waste while giving you back nutrients for the garden.
    • composting your garden refuse provides a circle of life right in your own yard.
    • make your own homemade white oil and other organic solutions to keep pests away.
    • join community action groups who are restoring habitats nearby 
    • plant native plants that enhanced biodiversity and that our wildlife depends upon.

2. Make your yard native friendly so that birds and butterflies have something to eat and install an easy to make "bee hotel" to assist the mild mannered native bees that don't form hives. Although if you like to have hive bees there are plenty of natives that will be happy to oblige given the right kind of hive boxes.

3. Examine what you actually NEED to get by and reduce your consumptionWalking down the street past shops one can wonder how in the world people buy so much stuff! The thrift shops do pretty well out of those excesses but unfortunately most all of our relentless spending ends up in our overwhelmed tips and garbage dumps. Buy second hand and look for things that will last.

4. Use your imagination and find alternative solutions to avoid single use plasticsSingle use plastics have become an ocean scourge affecting the lives of marine animals and the general health of the sea. Most everything we buy has waste packaging that can become a death sentence in the environment. 

Humans are adaptable. That's how we have come as far as we have. With some simple habit changes and actions we can definitely change our impact on our over stressed world and encourage local biodiversity.

Thursday, June 27, 2019


I've often spoken with students about the excitement of present giving holidays like birthdays and all the rest. They invariably tell me about the newest brightest shiniest new thing that has taken their fancy.

The discussion comes suddenly to a screeching halt when I explain that my most favourite gift was a very old, brownish stonelike object totally absent of any whistles and bells and no electronic diet. The hush over the students is sheer disbelief .

When I then begin to explain that they owe their lives to this little stone-like thing I present before them, you can see on their faces they are quite sure that I have gone completely around the twist and I have their attention!
Microsopic image from UC Berkeley article here

For these are images of a stromatolite. Stromatolites are the constructs that currently 'house' the very first life to create energy from water and sunlight called cyanobacteria.

Cyanobacteria sweetened the poisonous atmosphere of earth during the Archaean and Proterozoic Eras by generating the oxygen that we depend on. This change was important in shaping the course of earth's history through evolution and ecological change.

There are only two places major places in the world where you can see living stromatolites. One place is the Hamelin Pools in Western Australia. The Hamelin Pool is the most extensive living stromatolite system in the world and they live in water that is twice as salty as normal seawater. It is so salty that seasnails that might fancy a nice meal of cyanobacteria can't survive.

Seagrass meadows form a buffer or barrier between the the Hamelin Pool and the rest of the ocean and prevent dilution of the super salty water. However the seagrass is under threat from pollution and human traffic. 

The Hamelin Pool is a protected area.and visitors have restricted access by boardwalk. 

 Photo by Jason Bartsch...See more here  

Since those life changing days so much has happened and ocean phytoplankton now provide more than half of the air we need to breathe. 

There were no bells and whistles with stromatolites but these mushroom-like rocky mounds are the legacy of our ocean and atmosphere heroes, the cyanobacteria. Without them todays plants and animals, that we need to exist, wouldn't be here and neither would we.

Australia, what an amazing ocean continent.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

ACTIVITY FOR THE LITTLIES: How to make plant confetti


It has been said that we live in a throw-away society. Many people are thinking about how to reduce our waste in a variety of ways. Using this idea what about making it just fun by making your own confetti with natural materials.

When choosing your plant leaves make sure you ask the owner of the plant, if known, if they mind if you take some leaves for this activity.

What you need:
·     1. Six or so dry leaves but this may vary as to the amount of confetti you want to make- 
2. One hole punch (or themed hole punches like the seahorse one shown in the photo) 
    and scissors
3. A clean dry table top and sheet of paper to collect the confetti when complete
4. a small container to store confetti    
This activity is lots of fun especially if you can find multi coloured leaves but even finding different shades of green is fun too.

What to do:
·        1. Using the hole punch(es) clip around the edges of the leaves
         2. When you can't get any deeper then snip the old bits away and continue
         3. Let the confetti dry a little bit and store until required

The confetti is a natural material so it needs to be used on the same day or the next day at the latest as it will begin to change, dry and brown over the next couple of days so don't try to store it for too long.

Now all you need is a good reason to have a party outside and throw it around but don't forget to clean up the area afterwards!

Monday, April 15, 2019

REEF CHECK checks out!

Citizen science is a growing feature of our culture. It is where science becomes a community volunteer pastime that assists scientists with a level of real data that helps them understand how things work or indeed are failing to work. 

In Australia we have many groups and some of the most interesting are those where divers give their time to monitor and share their findings.

Reef Check is a world-wide initiative that started out in 1996 and is now operating in 95 different countries! And Reef Check Australia (RCA) has been championing reef citizen science in Australia since 2001, primarily operating in Queensland and Western Australia.

In their own words:
Reef Check Australia is an innovative citizen science focused charity dedicated to educating and empowering community volunteers to better understand, appreciate and protect oceans and marine environments. We help people help reefs by providing the tools for the community to take positive action for our reefs. Through our network of volunteers, we engage in citizen science, connect people with reef science, and undertake local conservation projects.
AUSMEPA are happy to have our buddy, Reef Check Australia's Jodi Salmond as a friend and colleague. She has been with the Aussie version of Reef Check from the early days and has seen an amazing response from Australians wishing to look after our waters.

Reef Check Australia's primary activity is training experienced volunteer scuba divers how to monitor reefs for signs of reef health as part of a long term monitoring program using globally standardised methods, in addition to training community volunteers to use their REEFSearch reef identification and observation program to become engaged citizen scientists both above and below the water.

Schools aren't left out either. RCA have developed a very nice looking REEFSearch Marine Education Kit (see here).

They also have a two-day Reef Ambassador workshop to train community outreach volunteers to inspire, motivate and support their communities, but get in quick, as applications for their SEQ program closes shortly!

Organisations like Grey Nurse Shark Watch benefits also with data on the critically endangered species being collected.

And for those of you who can't commit to more, Reef Check Australia sponsors night talks from scientists on a variety of marine topics, often but not restricted to specific animal studies like Hammerhead sharks or Seajellies.

The RCA database houses all the monitoring that is done. Members have free access to the data.
Reef Check Australia works in partnership with several other partners such as Australian Institute of Marine Science, Universities, local Councils, June Canavan Foundation, QLD Government, the Port of Brisbane, Healthy Land and Waterways and AUSMEPA.

Jodi and her crew are go getters. If you can see yourself sharing your time and enthusiasm for the sea with others please apply for one of their training programs at or contact the office by emailing them at