July 24, 2018
On 5th June, some of our awesome Brisbane Reef Ambassadors hopped on board the MV Inspiration, to learn more about the effects of micro-plastics on the ocean, and plankton life-cycles for World Environment Day.
The Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre provides authentic education programmes from preparatory level to Year 12, allowing students, teachers and the community to develop relationships with the local area through immersion in natural, heritage and cultural education. They educate students about the environment from plankton in the oceans to koalas in the trees and everything in-between. They are currently running a project named Overboard and Underwater, which educates students about the dangers and ramifications of micro-plastics by examining the plankton life-cycle and explaining how even the smallest creatures in the ocean are affected by humans.
Robin Pickett and Jennah Williams were invited along for the day to take part and enjoy this fantastic learning opportunity. The voyage commenced with a safety briefing, an introduction to the program and the schedule for the day, before the team set off across Moreton Bay in the direction of St Helena Island.
En-route, Robin, Jennah and their travelling companions were told that over 8 billion tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of marine animals who ingest, become entangled in or are poisoned by this plastic.
Next on the agenda was a video on plankton, told from the viewpoint of a red snapper and highlighting huge diversity of micro-organisms there are! In fact in a single teaspoon you can have 1 million living creatures comprising of phyto- and zoo plankton.
Following the video it was time to get hands on. The plankton trawl net was lowered and drifted behind us for 5 minutes before being hauled in with help from eager participants, including Jennah!
Contents were concentrated in a collection tube and poured into a glass jar, then pipettes were used to make dot samples for viewing under the microscope. Images were projected onto a screen and ID charts were provided to identify these amazing critters!
While enjoying some locally sourced nibbles, the Ambassadors chatted to some of the teachers on board about marine education in schools. Robin and Jennah were pleased to hear that many teachers were fully engaged in pledging to reduce their plastic waste!
A plastic trivia game on the way home (with eco-friendly prizes including re-usable straws, cotton and beeswax bags and bamboo toothbrushes on offer) offered some final inspiration for teachers to go over what they had learnt and would take back to teach their students.
Robin and Jennah reported back that "the programme proved to be a fantastic and very informative day. The work that the Moreton Bay Environmental Centre is doing is vital to the protection and understanding of our oceans for the future generations. The time to take action on plastic waste is now!"
Huge thanks go to the Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre for letting our Ambassadors come along and for all the great work they do. Check out some more of the day's action below!