In celebration of World Oceans Day, UNIC Canberra took part in an educational webinar on Wednesday 11 June that was organised by Earthwatch Institute’s Teach Wild program.
UNIC Canberra Director, Mr Christopher Woodthorpe spoke to audience of 655 listening in from around Australia, the United States of America and the United Arab Emirates about why the United Nations believes the oceans are so important.
“We can easily say that the world’s oceans drive the systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea,” he explained.
Primary and high school students and teachers participated in the webinar with scientists university, local government, civil society and community members.
In recognition of the value of the oceans and the need to keep them clean and healthy, the Teach Wild program brings scientists together with teachers and students to educate the community about the detrimental impacts of marine debris.
Teachers and students from five schools around Australia made presentations about their participation as “citizen scientists” in the program including awareness campaigns, beach surveys, seasonal data collection and the creation of artworks made from the collected rubbish.
Rollingston State Primary School students in Queensland spoke about their clean-up programs and the sorting and recording of the rubbish which concluded that heavy rain and tourism in the region increases marine debris.
The reality of the issue was brought home for Camden Haven High School in New South Wales when they found a plastic lid in the stomach of a shearwater bird carcass during their seasonal survey of a local beach.
Despite its inland location, Boronia West Primary School in Victoria spoke about their efforts to fight marine debris through identifying local drains as source and empowering students to take action in the school grounds and the community.
Resin pellets originating from storm water drains were identified as a serious local concern at Portside Christian College in South Australia.
High school students from Clonard College in Victoria spoke about how their participation in Teach Wild was the catalyst for stopping the sale of bottled water at their school and the production of an awareness video on the impact of helium balloons.
Students listening in could then ask CSIRO Research Scientist, Dr Denise Hardesty questions about her work on marine debris. She said that 600 marine species and counting are at threat of marine debris and that it poses a particular issue in the Southern Ocean waters between Australia and New Zealand.