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Theme: Communities Celebrating the Sea

Seaweek '88 coordinators: Julie Swartz, Pauline Halpin, Greg McGarvie

Understanding the theme

Seaweek - the beginning . . .

Reaching back through the mists of time, I think the idea for Seaweek was born at a Victorian MESA conference at Tooradin in 1984. John Tomkin, Vic MESA president at the time had recently returned from an exchange in the US with lots of ideas and 'Yankie' know-how, including a concept for a national week of sea celebrations.

In the early days of MESA, one of our greatest challenges was to get the marine environment onto the agenda, into the public psyche, onto school curricula..we set out to 'marinate' everything! We also felt a need to celebrate, rather than commiserate, promoting positive messages that would 'turn people on' to the sea. A national awareness promotion such as Seaweek seemed to fit the bill.

It took the creative energy and dedication of marine educator Pauline Halpin at the Marine Discovery Centre in Queenscliff to get things started. Seaweek began as a local event, using crab surveys and an art competition to familiarise communities and schools with coastal habitats in their areas. With Pauline's sheer enthusiasm, the idea quickly spread around the states and we were inundated with art work from all over the country. Seaweek had become a national event. And so it began . . .

Julie Swartz

Exploring the theme - event ideas

'Seaweek Touch Pool'

An artificial, temporary rockpool created on the beach.


A free touch pool offered to the public.


Little Parakeet Bay, Rottnest Island.


The Education Officer and a Ranger went diving and collected local marine life. These were brought carefully up onto the beach and placed in a makeshift rockpool. The pool was made by digging a hole in the sand, placing a tarp inside and filling it with water. This pool became a temporary marine habitat and of course, they were returned to the ocean at the end of the day. The Education Officer was on hand at the touch pool to encourage beach goers to look, touch and question all the weird and wonderful things of the local marine environment.


The ocean is a very difficult environment to visit. Many people walk along the beach and get marine life clues by what they discover washed up as flotsam and jetsam or other tracks and traces but not so many people go snorkelling or diving down into the marine habitats. A chance to look and touch provides a wonderful opportunity to create interest and highlight the diversity of the local marine life. By bringing the ocean life up on to the beach with a touch pool, anyone has a chance to understanding and appreciate more about the marine plants and animals.

To stimulate people into developing concern and responsibility for marine conservation they need to be involved in some enjoyable and practical marine experiences. A touch pool is just one example of a way to inspire awareness of and actions for, the marine environment.

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Understanding the theme
Exploring the theme - event ideas
Extending the theme - classroom activities
Personal Action
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