Hundreds descend on beach classroom

260 Torquay College students swapped the classroom for the beach last week as part of educational activities led by Torquay Surf Lifesaving Club and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC).

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GORCC Education Leader Pete Crowcroft provides fun facts about the sea snail to onlooking students

The year 5 and 6 students enjoyed a week of outdoor activities, guest speakers and hands on learning as part of GORCC’s Environmental Education Program.

Activities focused on topics such as dune preservation, marine wildlife and the importance of fragile ecosystems.

Rock pool investigations were popular, with students relishing the opportunity to discover the interesting creatures that live on the coast.

GORCC Education Leader Pete Crowcroft holds a crab for the students to get a better look
GORCC Education Leader Pete Crowcroft holds a crab for the students to get a better look

GORCC Education Activity Leader Pete Crowcroft said the students were excited to be out and about in their local environment.

“The program is a fantastic way to get students interested and involved in the marine environment.

“Their eagerness to learn about the fauna living in the rock pools really demonstrated their natural curiosity.

“By getting students to care about the coast at a young age, we’re really hoping that they will grow up to appreciate and look after their own backyard,” Mr Crowcroft said.

Torquay College teacher Chelsea James said there was a real excitement in the air as the kids descended onto the coast.

Kayla Ching (left) holds a crab as classmates Jordyn Bray and Finley Royner look on
Kayla Ching (left) holds a crab as classmates Jordyn Bray and Finley Royner look on

“The students learn and remember extraordinary facts about the animals they see which they take home and share with their families and friends.

“The GORCC program creates an exciting classroom and provides hands on learning which is really important to encourage them learn and ask questions,” Ms James said.

GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale said it is important to encourage students to appreciate the natural environment.

“Education is the key and inviting younger members of the community to become involved in coastal protection will to create a future generation that loves and cares for the coast,” said Ms Beale.

GORCC offers groups of all ages the opportunity to engage in hands on learning to understand, respect and protect the local coastal surroundings.

For more information about GORCC’s free activities for schools and groups or to learn more about how you can help to care for the local coast,  visit our website.

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast column.

Education is key

Education is the most important tool when it comes to fighting the ongoing battle with litter.

With more than 270,000 tonnes of rubbish polluting the oceans and more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, it is no wonder rubbish is a lethal threat to marine animals.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) conservation staff along with dedicated volunteer groups continually remove litter from our coastal areas throughout the year with increased efforts over the busy holiday period.

A huge proportion of mis-handled waste ends up back in the ocean where it harms marine life.
A huge proportion of mis-handled waste ends up back in the ocean where it harms marine life.

GORCC conservation supervisor Georgie Beale is disappointed at the amount of litter in our oceans and believes that education is vital in reducing its presence in our coastal environments.

“Education is the key to overcoming the battle with litter. Getting kids to change their behaviour and bin their rubbish will make a huge difference to the environment.

“We have incorporated marine debris into our educational programs to inform people about how important it is to keep our beaches clean,” Ms Beale said.

“We teach groups about the Take 3 for the Sea campaign which is a simple idea that encourages everyone to take three extra pieces of rubbish with them as they leave the beach.

“Our biggest challenge is reaching those who don’t care and don’t understand their impact on our unique marine wildlife which is why educating young children is so important,” Ms Beale explains.

The amount of litter in the oceans is constantly increasing. Much of it degrades very slowly. Plastic bottles and nylon fishing line are particularly durable. Although many plastics break down into smaller fragments, it will take decades or even centuries (estimated timescales) for them to disappear completely. Source: Maribus (World Ocean Review)
The amount of litter in the oceans is constantly increasing. Much of it degrades very slowly. Plastic bottles and nylon fishing line are particularly durable. Although many plastics break down into smaller fragments, it will take decades or even centuries (estimated timescales) for them to disappear completely. Source: Maribus (World Ocean Review)

Top 10 marine debris items

  1. Cigarettes/ cigarette filters
  2. Bags (plastic)
  3. Food wrappers/ containers
  4. Caps/lids
  5. Beverage bottles (plastic)
  6. Cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons (plastic)
  7. Beverage bottles (glass)
  8. Beverage cans
  9. Straws, stirrers (plastic)
  10. Bags (paper)

Local Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast volunteer John Foss said the educational programs that are offered in schools and through GORCC are making a huge difference in teaching the next generation about the hazards of litter.

“What we need is for people to stop treating our coast as an ashtray.

“Unfortunately it is often the visitors that cause the most damage to the coast as they have not received the education locals have about caring for our environment.

“We need a national anti-litter campaign that targets young people and beachgoers in a multilingual format to get the message across,” said Mr Foss.

Although we cannot eliminate the world’s marine litter, we can make a difference along our precious beaches by encouraging others to keep the beaches clean.

Click here to find out more about volunteering along the surf coast.

How do you look after our coast? Comment below.

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A Day to focus on our fish

Every year on November 21 fishing communities and environmentalist groups across the globe celebrate World Fisheries Day and the importance of maintaining marine wildlife.

The United Nations found in a recent study that more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline due to factors including the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming.

Although there are so many fishing spots along the surf coast, many locations around the world have lost this luxury.
Although there are so many fishing spots along the surf coast, many locations around the world have lost this luxury.

The day highlights the importance of fish in water health, and the lives they sustain in and out of the water through rallies, workshops, public meetings, cultural programs, exhibitions, music shows, and demonstrations.

Without the continual regeneration of fish, the diets of millions of people around the world will be negatively affected and a huge proportion of traditional societies who are reliant on the occupation of fishing will also be impacted.

With the majority of cities placed closely to water bodies, severe ocean and coastal pollution has become an ever-increasing problem with the depletion of fish resulting in a crisis.

Unsustainable fishing methods linked to mechanisation has been a huge factor in the issue.

The World Fisheries Day helps to highlight these problems, and moves towards finding solutions to the increasingly inter-connected problems we are facing, and in the longer term, to sustainable means of maintaining fish stocks.

With the continual pollution and over-fishing around the surf coast, fish may become very difficult to find.
With the continual pollution and over-fishing around the surf coast, fish may become very difficult to find.

Not sure why this is such a big issue?

• Fisheries and aquaculture employ more than 43 million individuals worldwide.
• More than 25% of the world’s dietary protein is provided by fish.
• The human population consumes over 100 million metric tonnes of fish annually
• Globally, annual fisheries exports are valued at 85 to 90 billion dollars.
• Escalating amounts of pollution continue to threaten water quality and fish habitat
• All natural fish stocks today contain at least some mercury

Spring Creek is one of many popular fishing spots along the Surf Coast.
Spring Creek is one of many popular fishing locations along the Surf Coast.

To find out more about the Day and how you can make a difference, visit the event’s Facebook page here.

Students take action in sealing the loop

Torquay College was one of four Victorian schools to learn about the threats local marine wildlife face as part of Zoos Victoria’s Seal the Loop Action Day, held Friday November 7.

Zoos Victoria experts used fun play-based activities to educate and entertain students from Torquay College, Warrnambool East Primary School, Rye Primary School, and Melbourne Girls College.

Torquay College students wear the Seal the Loop shirts in support of protecting marine wildlife.
Zoos Victoria staff members wear their Seal the Loop shirts in support of protecting marine wildlife. Photo: Zoos Victoria

A Zoos Victoria spokesperson said the Action Day is an opportunity for the next generation of extinction fighters to become activists on behalf of marine wildlife.

“It is a great way to encourage a simple action which has real benefits to wildlife.

“Connecting students to these issues from an early age helps to broaden their understanding of the importance of the environment and its precious wildlife.”

Torquay College students participating in the Seal the Loop program
Students at the Seal the Loop program

Students wore blue to show their support on the day, which ended with a beach clean-up – an action which directly benefits local wildlife.

There was plenty of rubbish collected along the Torquay foreshore.
Plenty of litter was collected along the Torquay foreshore. Photo: Zoos Victoria.

Zoos Victoria sees over 150,000 school students every year, spreading the message about wildlife protection.

The Zoos Victoria Spokesperson said Seal the Loop Action Day is an opportunity to engage school aged students about the Seal the Loop campaign and its importance in our local community.

“Zoos Victoria’s Seal the Loop campaign encourages the responsible disposal of fishing line and fishing waste through the use of specifically designed bins installed in popular fishing areas across Victoria.

“Every year, it is estimated fishing line entanglements result in the death of 1,400 seals.

“Zoos Victoria cannot fight the extinction of threatened species without the support of students.”

Warrnambool
The Seal the Loop campaign encourages every community member to protect the marine wildlife. Photo: Zoos Victoria.

To find out how you or your local school can become involved in the Seal the Loop campaign, click here.

Community urged to bin bad behaviour

‘Seal the Loop’ bins are to be installed at Moggs Creek and Eastern View fishing locations to encourage proper disposal of fishing waste and reduce threats to marine life.

Zoo’s Victoria, in partnership with Melbourne Zoo Community, have donated three Seal the Loop bins to the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) after the popular fishing spots were identified as litter hot spots.

 

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Reserves Outdoor Worker and keen angler Nick Farrant with a popular Seal the Loop bin at Fisherman's Beach.
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Reserves Outdoor Worker and keen angler Nick Farrant with a popular Seal the Loop bin at Fisherman’s Beach.

Conservation Officer Danielle Knox said incorrectly discarded fishing waste can be mistaken as food and ingested by wildlife which can be passed on to their young and result in injury or death.

“30 species of marine animals including seabirds, turtles, whales, dolphins and sharks are listed as ‘at risk’ of injury and fatality caused by ingestion of, or entanglement in, harmful marine debris,” she said.

Seal the Loop bins are already installed in Lorne, Torquay and Anglesea and research shows the bins are helping in the fight to reduce marine wildlife entanglement rates.

According to Zoo’s Victoria, a 2013 study revealed that 56% of coast users who came across a Seal the Loop bin changed their waste disposal behaviour as a result.

GORCC Outdoor Works Supervisor Phil Brown said litter was an ongoing issue on the coast.

“The litter ends up back in the ocean where it can harm both marine life and beachgoers,” he said.

While GORCC staff undertake regular beach clean ups, litter remains a problem, particularly in more popular fishing areas.

“The new bin locations have been chosen based on popular fishing spots where litter has been identified as an issue,” Mr. Brown said.

Coalmine Creek (near Moggs Creek) has been in need of a near-by Seal the Loop bin, with litter adding up. Picture: local resident, Rod Hamilton.
Coalmine Creek (near Moggs Creek) has been in need of a near-by Seal the Loop bin, with litter adding up. Picture: local resident, Rod Hamilton.

Ms Knox urged community members and local anglers to take care when disposing of fishing waste.

“If there is not a Seal the Loop bin in your area, you can ask your local council to sign up for a bin which are offered free of charge to any organisation, council or group who agree to install and maintain them,” she said.

If you notice any injured or distressed marine wildlife, please call the AGL Marine Response Unit team on 0447 158 676.

Marine animals such as seals come in to close contact with harmful marine debris. Picture: Zoo's Victoria.
Marine animals such as seals come in to close contact with harmful marine debris. Picture: Zoo’s Victoria.

For further information regarding Seal the Loop bins, including a bin registration form visit http://www.zoo.org.au/sealtheloop.

If you would like to become involved in the 2014 Seal the Loop Action Day to be held November 14, email Danielle Knox at dknox@zoo.org.au and keep up to date by searching #sealtheloop on Twitter @zoosvictoria.

 

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Community members are urged to use Melbourne Zoo’s Seal the Loop bins designed for the collection of fishing waste so seals do not become entangled. Photo: www.zoo.org.au Seal relocation highlights community role.

Cool creeks for kids

Seven organisations have  worked together to bring  environmental education alive for 170 local students as part of National Water Week and in celebration of 20 years of Waterwatch.

Gemma McNaughton and Charli Bechmann from Anglesea Primary School.
Gemma McNaughton and Charli Bechmann from Anglesea Primary School.

The ‘Creek Connections’ event, which was  hosted by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) at Spring Creek,  saw the students learn about local water catchments.

The day involved volunteers and staff from Waterwatch, The Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation, The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC), Estuarywatch and EcoLogic.

Grade 3 and 4 students from St Therese Primary School, Torquay P-6 College, Lorne Aireys P-12 College and Anglesea Primary School enjoyed everything from  ‘water bugs’ sessions and  ‘estuary discoveries’ through to a ‘walk and talk’ with Wathaurung Elder Bryon Powell.

GORCC Conservation Officer, Georgina Beale who helped to host a ‘recycle relay’ and conduct planting sessions in  threatened Moonah Woodlands  said students learnt about keeping water catchments healthy.

“The kids learnt about the interconnectedness of our catchments, rivers, estuary and marine environments and the protection and conservation  of our river systems and their dependent eco systems,” she said.

Students worked tirelessly to create water bug costumes out of recycled items for the ‘Terrific Transformer bugs Creative Costume Challenge’ in the lead up to the event.

Winners  of the best costume prize received special computer microscopes which will allow their whole class to view water bugs up close on a large screen.

Waterwatch Facilitator, Cate Barham said the diverse range of activities aimed to encourage students to develop an appreciation and understanding  of marine, estuarine and freshwater environments and  Wathaurung culture.

“Everything we do in our catchment can have an impact on our waterways. If you drop a piece of litter, it will eventually find its way to a waterway and then out to the ocean, where it can have devastating effects on our marine life,” she said.

Waterwatch Victoria recognises that only 22% of Victoria’s rivers are considered in good or excellent condition, highlighting the need for action to protect and maintain the health of our local water catchments.

Ms Barham encourages other community members to become active in protecting and caring for their local water catchments by joining a Landcare, Coastcare or Friends group in their area.

“We are all responsible for caring for our catchments and hopefully others will feel inspired by the enthusiastic efforts of our Creek Connections ambassadors,” she said.

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column

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SCEG Hosts August Film Night

Australians generate approximately 41 million tonnes of waste each year. Half of this waste is not being recovered for recycling (Clean up Australia, 2009).

To help encourage recycling practices, the Surf Coast Energy Group (SCEG) are inviting the community to attend the August film night, which will showcase the award winning film, ‘Waste Not’.

The 30 minute film, created by Total Environment Centre follows the journey of our rubbish as it is sorted and handled by an army of workers. The night aims to transform the community into ‘Waste Wizards’ and raises awareness about the importance of recycling.

Plastics collected from the beach by a count group
Plastics collected from the beach by a count group

After the screening of this empowering film, the evening will continue with engaging activities for the whole family including:

•    ‘Sort it’, where the whole family can decide what should really be in the recycle bin.
•    ‘Show and Tell’, an opportunity for community members to present their best reuse and recreate item for the chance to win a prize.
•    Rubbish experts from the Shire and Barwon Regional Waste Management answering your questions about where to recycle other items.
•    A discussion about the Surf Coast Shire’s vision to reduce landfill.
•    A delicious supper provided by Zeally Bay Bakery, Hidden Secrets and SCEG volunteers.

SCEG encourages everyone to come dressed in their best op shop outfit and walk the red carpet at Surfworld Theatrette Torquay, on Friday 2nd of August, commencing at 7pm. Entry by donation.

Watch the Waste Not trailer to gain an insight into the film:

For more information, visit:
http://sceg.org.au/

For more information on environmental issues, visit:
http://gorcc.com.au/

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