Celebrating World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day is an annual event celebrated worldwide on May 23rd to raise awareness about the conservation of turtles and their habitats.

Marine turtle
© David Troeger on Unsplash

Turtles are one of the oldest living reptiles on earth, and they have been around for over 200 million years. They are an important part of the Australian ecosystem, playing a vital role in maintaining the balance of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Turtles are also considered to be keystone species, which means they have a disproportionate effect on the environment relative to their abundance.

There are six species of marine turtles found in Australian waters, including the Green Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Flatback Turtle and Leatherback Turtle. They are all listed as Endangered or Vulnerable to extinction.

Image credit: Sea Turtle Foundation

World Turtle Day provides a platform for raising awareness about the conservation needs of these fascinating creatures and encourages action to protect their habitats. It serves as a reminder that we all have a role to play in preserving and safeguarding our natural environment for future generations.

How You Can Make a Difference: On World Turtle Day, and beyond, there are several ways in which you can contribute to turtle conservation:

  1. Reduce plastic consumption: Minimize single-use plastics and participate in local beach clean-ups to prevent marine debris from polluting turtle habitats.
  2. Support conservation organizations: Donate to reputable organizations focused on turtle conservation efforts in Australia and around the world.
  3. Promote responsible tourism: Choose eco-friendly travel operators that prioritize sustainable practices and adhere to guidelines for responsible wildlife encounters.
  4. Educate and raise awareness: Share information about World Turtle Day on social media, organize local events, and engage in conversations that highlight the importance of turtle conservation.
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SeaWeek 2023

SeaWeek is Australia’s major national public awareness campaign to focus community awareness and appreciation of the sea. This week-long event is held every year in March and provides a great opportunity to learn about marine environment. So, take a dive under the water this SeaWeek and explore our amazing marine environments with me.

Seaweek graphic

It was great to be able to spend time diving over the last few week exploring the marine environment around Sydney.

Marine Life title slide

Explore the amazing diversity of Marine Life. Take a journey beneath the waves to explore this wonderful world. Learn about some of these incredible animals, their adaptions and habitats with the resources below.

Where the river meets the sea title slide

Follow the journey of water down the river through the catchment to the sea. Water is essential for all forms of life and the small amount of available freshwater create competing pressures for our water resources. 

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Adventures on the Great Barrier Reef

I was very excited to get back to the Great Barrier Reef last week. I stayed out on Ocean Quest for 5 days diving Norman and Saxon Reefs. Over the 5 days I went on 12 amazing dives and 4 snorkels exploring both reefs.

The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage site that stretches more than 2,000km. The reef can be seen from space and is under threat. No other World Heritage site contains so much biodiversity — more than 1,500 species of fish, 400 species of coral, 4,000 species of molluscs, and 240 species of birds. Don’t forget all the sponges, anemones, marine worms, crustaceans and other species.

The variety of fish life is staggering, everywhere you look, you see something new hiding amongst the coral or out on the sand. The photos don’t do it justice.

Sometimes you only get a glimpse, but that is enough to see my first Hammerhead Shark.

The team from Deep Sea Divers Den were fabulous, all the staff from the kitchen to the dive crew made my stay an incredible adventure. I’m already planning my trip next year.

A big thanks also goes out to Saara & Lachie and Claudio and Natalie for letting me join their dives and for sharing their photos and video footage with me.

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Underwater at Shelly Beach

It was great to get back in the water after a long winter break. Hearing that there were Port Jackson Sharks (PJs) at Shelly Beach got me in the water today. I lost count after about 25, there were PJs everywhere. They varied in colour and most were under a metre long.

Port Jackson Shark

Port Jackson Shark, Heterodontus portusjacksoni are very common tis time of year, between May – October. The teeth of the Port Jackson Shark are not serrated and are used to hold and break, then crush and grind the shells of molluscs and sea urchins.

Giant Cuttlefish

The Giant Cuttlefish Sepia apama are one of my favourite animals to find on a dive. On our way back to shore I spotted one under under a rocky ledge and was excited to see a second Cuttle hiding too. They are inquisitive and playful and came out in the open to check us out.

Blue Groper

The Eastern Blue Groper Achoerodus viridis is a familiar sight for Sydney Divers. The friendly Blue Groper often follows you around while you are on a dive. I have been surprised more than once to turn around and be face to face with one of these guys. You can find out more about the Blue Groper on the Australian Museum website

Smooth Stingray

We saw several Smooth Stingrays Bathytoshia brevicaudatais hiding in the sand when we were on the way back to shore. One was on top of the sand and the other had covered itself in sand. You could just see the outline of the stingray and the eyes sticking out above the sand. The Smooth stingray are the largest stingray in the world, but sometimes still hard to spot. Check out the video below (not my video).

What can you do to help preserve this amazing environment?

  • Remove any rubbish that you find in the water or on the beach
  • Remove any bits of fishing line and nets that you see
  • Be aware that what you do on land impacts our marine systems downstream
Plastics in the Ocean Infographic
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World Mangrove Day

Mangroves are a vital ecosystem that benefit our environment, economy, and communities. However they are severely under threat. An estimated 67% of historical mangrove habitat has been lost or degraded worldwide, with 20% occurring since 1980.

Wetland Biodiversity

Mangroves are found in the intertidal zones of tropical, subtropical and protected temperate coastal rivers, estuaries and bays, where they grow in fine sediments deposited by rivers and tides. Mangrove trees have a characteristic growth form, including aerial structural roots and exposed breathing roots. This helps them cope with regular tidal inundation and a lack of oxygen in the soil.

Mangrove tree and pneumatophores in Moreton Bay, Qld. BoundaryRider

Illustration of how mangroves protect the shoreline

Mangrove forest protect coastlines from storm surges

Mangrove forests provide breeding nurseries for a wide range of fish and crustaceans, including many species of commercial and recreational value. The forests also provide a habitat for many marine invertebrates species. Terrestrial fauna including insects, reptiles, frogs, birds and mammals use mangroves for food, shelter, breeding and feeding grounds.

Mangrove forests occur in many of Australia’s coastal regions. Today the total area is only 0.9 million hectares or 0.6% of Australia’s native forest cover. Since 1980, we have lost half of the mangrove forests. Some countries have lost more than 80% of their mangrove population.

Explore your local mangroves this weekend. If you are in Sydney head to the Badu Mangrove Boardwalk in Bicentennial Park and you’ll discover surviving riverside wetlands that shelter colourful waterbirds plus the largest mangrove forest remaining on the Parramatta River.

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SeaWeek 2022

SeaWeek is a campaign to focus community awareness, provide information and encourage an appreciation of the sea. The dates are on 5 – 13 March 2022 and this years theme is Our SEArch – what will you discover?. The theme is based on the Ocean Literacy Principle that the Ocean is largely unexplored.

Composite image of the key marine environments; ocean, coral reef and mangroves
Key marine environments; ocean, coral reef and mangroves

I relate to this years theme as I love exploring the coastline and below the oceans waves. There is always so much to discover if you look. I have a range of resources to learn more about our marine world and for your to discover something new this SeaWeek.

FREE On Demand session

My Journey Beneath the Waves takes you and your students on an exploration of the marine environment. The temperate waters around Sydney are home to a variety of habitats including kelp beds and sponge gardens. These are wonderful place to dive and discover the diversity of animals that live there.

I talk about my experiences SCUBA diving and take you on a journey beneath the waves to explore this wonderful world.

Education Resources

Oceans contain the greatest diversity of life on Earth. Habitats range from the freezing polar regions to the warm waters of the coral reefs, deep sea hydrothermal vents to shallow seagrass beds and beautiful sponge gardens to giant kelp forests, marine organisms are found everywhere.

Caring for our Coasts

Australia is home to the over 10,000 beaches and no part of Australia is more than 1,000km from the ocean. Our coasts are impacted by our actions on land. Rubbish and microplastics can be found washed up on almost every Australian beach.

Pollution and rubbish get washed into our rivers and waterways with stormwater runoff and end up on our coasts and oceans. Over 75% of this rubbish is plastic. Plastics in the environment can take hundreds of years to break down, thereby impacting marine species for generations.

The Beach Survey provides a starting point to understand the types of rubbish in the marine environment.

The Beach Clean up can help you work together as a team and community to remove this of rubbish.

I have also create a collection of On Demand videos looking at marine environments and caring for the coast.

SeaWeek gives us a fantastic opportunity to promote educational issues of relevance to the marine environment.

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My Sister the Octopus Whisperer

We just finished a lovely SCUBA dive in Chowder Bay in Sydney Harbour and my sister will now forever be known as the Octopus Whisperer. She has always had a great eye for detail when we dive together. However on this dive, even in the murky water she was incredible.

She lead the way on this adventure while I was testing out my new underwater camera. While I was focused on the camera, she was spotting octopus, moray eels, seahorses and more. She found 4 Common Sydney Octopus, Octopus tetricus hiding under rocks in the sand and even one using shells to camouflage.

The Common Sydney Octopus can grow up to 80cms in size, they are big, but very good at hiding. She was definitely the Octopus Whisperer on this dive and I can’t wait to see what she finds on the next dive!

Michelle has been my dive buddy for the last 25 years and we have had some amazing adventures together, I literally trust her with my life! Check out the video of our adventure. The new camera is great and hopefully my camera skills will improve too.

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