2A A story ‘A journey to
our ocean — land and sea links’
2B: A mud map `Australia
an island continent on an ocean planet'
2C Marine education concepts
education concept activities
2E Copy of
the `Australia State of Environment, 1996, Estuaries and the
A story ‘A journey to our ocean — land and sea links’
Read this story: This journey starts high up in the mountains, at the
headwaters of tiny creeks, the highest point in the catchment. You will
take your journey on a drop of water. The clouds once light and free have
been trapped by the mountains and are now becoming heavier and darker,
heavier and darker, until they shudder and shake, ready to release their
load and begin to fall as pouring rain.
The land sighs with relief from the moisture and readily soaks the rain
drops in. Up here in the steep mountains the rain begins to run. It runs
along the ground, charging down hill. Imagine yourself on one of those
drops racing downhill, through the native forests, past the native animals
and into the mountain creeks. As more drops gather, the creek widens and
you are flowing into a larger creek. Mountain creeks converge and together
become a river, as they leave the native forests and run further down
into the catchment.
Now the vegetation has changed to scatted trees and open farm lands and
you are passing crops and mobs of sheep. You slow down as the river widens
and the land flattens. Other substances are also entering the river, joining
you on your journey, soil washes in from bare river banks, chemicals and
oils seep in. As you wind around a bend and under a bridge the banks are
lined with houses, factories and roads in an urban area. The smell, colour
and consistency of your water drop is changing as stormwater enters the
river through big pipes.
For a moment you float along on your water drop next to a plastic bottle
in a froth of suds. The journey is slowing and you can hear a deep roar,
the water tastes different now, saltier. At last you smell the ocean,
a wave spins your water drop over and then drags you out to sea with all
that has been gathered on this journey from the highest lands into the
By Barbara Jensen
NB Make suitable changes to this story, to suit your particular audience.
Resource 2B: Part A Map
A mud map `Australia an island continent on an ocean planet'
Resource 2B: Part B Notes
A mud map Australia an island continent on an ocean planet
The following notes are a fleeting glance only at the amazing habitats
and inhabitants of the Australian waters. This rich diversity of plant
and animal life or marine biodiversity, is of global importance and significant
for us all. The diversity of life in the sea is essential to maintaining
the basic ecological processes on which all life, including human life,
As usual the charismatic megafauna grab all the attention. More than 4000
species of bony fish and about 300 species of cartilaginous fish (eg sharks
and rays) live in the Australian waters. The total number of invertebrate
species is unknown but believed to be in the tens of thousands with many
species still unnamed. Please use these notes only as a rough but inspiring
guide to all the wealth (big or small, plants or animals) of our marine
and coastal waters.
Our seas encompass all five of the worlds ocean climate zones, tropical
to polar with two distinct biographical regions, the temperate south and
the tropical north. Byron Bay on the east coast and Shark Bay on the west,
are the approximate areas where the warm waters meet the cold.
Cool Unique Temperate South
The southern waters of Australia had a longer geological and climatical
isolation than the tropical north, therefore a high number of unique species,
found no where else in the world, live in these cool southern waters.
Australia's southern coastline is a high energy coastline, the longest
south facing coastline in the southern hemisphere. The waters are low
in nutrients and isolated from major currents.
Habitats include seagrass meadows, sandy plains, saltmarshes, sponge gardens,
giant kelp forests and rocky reefs. These waters are home to sea squirts,
seadragons, seahorses, pipefish, sea lions, great white sharks, giant
squid, crustaceans, seals, fairy penguins, pathways and breeding areas
of migratory Southern Right whales, migratory bird sites and 6000 marine
invertebrate species. This is where you will find the largest number of
marine flora, only one species of mangrove but over one thousand species
Tasmanian waters reach down to the sub Antarctic zone. The discovery of
seamounts, south of Tasmania, remnants of extinct volcanoes, have exposed
more amazing sea life. The habitats of NSW are interesting because of
a narrow continental shelf and coastal wetlands, lagoons and estuary systems.
Warm and cold currents move up and down the coast at different times,
creating long overlapping and mixing zones of tropical and temperate species.
Warm Tropical North
Heading north the waters warm up, become calmer and the tidal range begins
to increase (1 metre in the south of WA to 11 metres in the north). The
habitats include sandy straits, mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, coastal
wetlands, coastal rainforest, mudflats, estuaries, cays, islands and reefs.
These waters are home to corals, whale sharks, dugongs, dolphins and
sea snakes. They contain vital nesting sites for the crocodiles and turtles,
pathways and breeding areas of the Humpback whale (both east and west
coast), seabird rookeries, flyways and staging points of migratory birds.
In the Northern Territory 85% of the coastline is owned by Aboriginal
people and has great significance for sacred sites, dreaming tracks and
trading traditions. Western Australia has an enormous coast, it is 40%
of the whole of Australia's coastline. At Shark Bay there are stromatolites.
These were built by cyanbacteria, that are the oldest known form of life
The relatively unpolluted polar waters of the Antarctica contain oxygen
rich waters with nutrients upwellings and plenty of summer sun. These
conditions provide the environment for production of large amount of phytoplankton
and these types of ocean plants are the beginnings of most marine food
webs. Massive amounts of krill found in these waters are the significant
food source for many species including whales. The sea floor life includes
corals, algae and sponges and the coastal land and islands are rookeries
for penguins, seals and sea birds.
For more information about our marine environment visit the Marine and
Coastal Community website at HYPERLINK http://www.ozemail.com.au/~mccnet
www.ozemail.com.au/~mccnet and the Federal Government, through Environment
Australia, at HYPERLINK http://www.environment.gov.au www.environment.gov.au
Marine education concepts
Five main marine education concepts are: Diversity, Interrelations, Adaptation,
Change and Conservation.
The marine and coastal environment is made up of variety of ecosystems
and habitats. These are the home to plants, animals and microorganisms.
Together they form our rich marine and coastal biological diversity.
As the plants, animals and microorganisms share the living and non-living
components of their environment, they are constantly interacting with
each other. They form interrelating communities and complex webs of life.
For successful life in the coastal and ocean habitats, the plants, animals
and microorganisms must adapt to the conditions of their environment.
They have developed special features and behaviours that help them to
find food, shelter and mates to survive.
The marine and coastal environment is in continual phases of daily, seasonal
and cyclic change.
Human actions have a significant impact on the marine and coastal environment.
Therefore we all have a role to play in conservation. We need to develop
understanding, positive attitudes and actions to help nurture clean, healthy,
alive and living coasts and oceans.