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).

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.

Official launch for new friends group

A new environmental group, Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary (FERMS), will launch this weekend with the celebrations to be headlined by a special guest speaker and fun activities on offer.

Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary (ERMS) from near lighthouse.
Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary (ERMS) from near lighthouse.

Special guest speaker Patrick O’Callaghan, a Marine Conservation Strategist with local and international experience, will make an appearance at the launch

Mr O’Callaghan has extensive knowledge and has worked in a number of roles including as the Program Leader, Education & Training at the Marine & Freshwater Resources Institute for over 10 years.

EcoLogic Manager and FERMS founding member Sharon Blum-Caon said the group aims to bring together those who are like minded and concerned about the preservation of ERMS.

“These people participate in meaningful on ground and in water actions/projects to preserve this environment.”

“Come along and join us – we promote understanding, passion and immersion in this amazing marine environment,” Ms Blum-Caon said.

The launch will take place on Saturday 23 March from 6:30pm onwards at Great Escape Books, Aireys Inlet with light refreshments on offer.   The Saturday evening will be followed by a Rockpool Ramble and if conditions allow, an Ocean Snorkel on the Sunday afternoon at 1.30pm.

Everyone is welcome and  those wanting to participate in the activities on Sunday must sign up first (either at the launch or by contacting Sharon).

Interested participants are asked to bring along snorkel gear. Otherwise a FERMS member will make a list on the night of those needing to borrow mask and snorkel, fins and/or a wetsuit.

For further information contact Sharon Blum-Caon on: 5263 1133 or 0412 257 802.

*Great Escape Books is located at 2/75 Great Ocean Road, Aireys Inlet 3231.

Blue-Ringed Octopus (genus Hapalochlaena) is just one of the amazing marine animals found at Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary.

The aims of the FERMS group are to:

  • Protect and preserve Port Jackson Shark habitat
  • Educate school groups and the public about getting involved in protecting and preserving marine environments
  • Increase the size of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary in line with breeding grounds of the Port Jackson Shark (Apply for and secure research grants to support what we already know about PJS)
  • Conduct Sea Search programs at Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary with visiting groups and the general public
  • Create the opportunity for children and teach children about this environment (peer learning) and foster/encourage stewardship behaviours
  • Monitor weed, virus and pest sp./outbreaks

More information about coastal volunteering in our region and how to get involved.

Related blog post:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA New group protects sanctuary

New group protects sanctuary

The new Friends of the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary group is seeking members and set for an official launch in February while spectacular underwater footage of the area has been released.

The newly formed volunteer group has been working with Parks Victoria and Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) to produce a short film showcasing marine life protected by the sanctuary.

The Surfcoast's newsest volunteer group - Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary group
The Surfcoast’s newsest volunteer group – Friends of the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary

Founding members of the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary group snorkelled with the cameraman and guided him to special parts of the sanctuary to produce underwater footage which showcases an array of marine life.

Parks Victoria’s Alicia Ivory said the film gives visitors a snapshot of what is beneath the waves in the sanctuary.

“Many visitors come for a photo and a look around the lighthouse but might never get a chance to get out into the water and see the marine life our sanctuary protects.

“It is a fantastic way to show people the different creatures making use of the area and what we all need to do to make sure they are safe and protected,” she said.

Watch the footage below!


90% of the plants and animals showcased in the video are only found along the southern coastline of Australia.

Ms. Ivory said these areas provide an important refuge for a number of rare and threatened marine animals and plants.

“Much of our marine life is found nowhere else in the world,” Ms Ivory said.

The film is accessible via QR barcodes on interpretive signage which has been installed above the marine sanctuary or directly via the GORCC website.

Visitors to the Split Point Lookout can take a photo of the barcode with their smart phone to instantly view the footage.

Interpretive signs installed by GORCC at Split Point Lookout.
Interpretive signs installed by GORCC at Split Point Lookout.

Manager of EcoLogic and Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary founding member Sharon Blum-Caon said the group currently consists of six founding members and new participants are welcome.

“We catch up for snorkeling, rock pool ramblings, social events, coastal vegetation rehabilitation and photography,” she said.

Everyone is welcome at the official launch to be held on 9 February 2013 and attendees will receive a free Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary pack including a T-shirt printed with an image of the sanctuary’s iconic Port Jackson Shark.

For more information contact Sharon on: 0412 257 802 or email

This story featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast column.

For further details on volunteering along the coast, view the GORCC volunteer page.

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Taking the initiative

The Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary is regularly frequented by a group of local snorkelers from Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. Some 12 months ago, this informal group identified that, while the Friends of Point Addis group encompasses Eagle Rock, there was certainly room to establish a standalone friends group.

With Eagle Rock right on the snorkelers’ doorsteps, the group recognised the importance of the sanctuary to the local community – who share a sense of pride in it – and to the snorkeling/diving community (several times a year, it produces conditions for snorkeling and scuba diving that would be hard to beat anywhere in the world).

In addition, members felt that the sanctuary itself would benefit from an organisation that provided opportunities for the general public to engage with it in more meaningful ways (e.g. monitoring, stewardship, training).

Consequently, the Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary group was created to work on projects specific to the sanctuary.

Noticing that the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary Management Plan (which is incorporated within the Point Addis Management Plan) recommends regular monitoring to compare locations inside and outside of the sanctuary’s boundary, several group members have since put up their hands to bring this monitoring to life.

The group will work with Reef Watch, Sea Search, the Great Victorian Fish Count and Eco-Logic to engage local and visiting school groups, and members of the public in the monitoring project. Plans are also afoot to create an interactive website to educate and engage sanctuary visitors. This would include underwater footage, monitoring data, visitor information and the like.

As the Marine Parks and Sanctuary system is still relatively new, the group is also interested in the management plans for these parks, including how recommendations should be addressed to make the pending review of these documents worthwhile. With questions around the role and importance of marine parks and sanctuaries on the political agenda, the group believes a true understanding of their economic, ecological and social values is yet to be determined.

While still early days, the establishment of the Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary group illustrates:

  • the value of people who enjoy a common interest joining together to share their passion with others
  • how identifying an existing shortfall can create new opportunities
  • the benefits of taking the initiative on an issue rather than waiting for someone else to take action, and
  • the importance of putting something back into the community or environment rather than taking it for granted.

Story by Andy Gray, Director, Eco-Logic Education and Environment Services