I’m a bit of a museum nut. Having worked as a curator’s assistant in the South Australian Museum of Natural History (marine invertebrates section), I appreciate the tremendous dedication, enthusiasm and plain hard work that goes into such places.
Large state museums are one thing, but there are other, off-the-radar places quietly doing their thing to educate kids (and adults, which I regard as just as important) about the fabulous creatures of the sea and the work we need to get on with to help that environment (which is, after all, helping ourselves, even if some of us don’t value it for itself). You just have to know where to find them.
One such place is the Marine Environments Field Study and Resource Centre (aka Adventure Education) at Hastings Point, northern NSW. The Marine Discoveries Centres Australia website explains:
Ted Brambleby BSc is the founding director of Adventure Education. For the past 45 years his goal has been to immerse students into the wonders and the miracle of the marine world. Kerrie Trees left secondary teaching after meeting Ted underwater in Byron Bay in 1998. Together they have created the only privately run and funded Marine Education field trip facility of its kind in Australia. Using a multidimensional approach to education through a philosophy that true education happens through active participation in the environment and not limited to the classroom today the facility based at the 5 star North Star caravan park at Hastings Point receives visitation from over 80 schools for Day Visits and 1–3 night field trip camps.
The Adventure Education team of Teachers and Marine naturalists facilitate a range of programs that are educational, informative and fun. In addition to immersing themselves in the natural beauty of the Hastings Point ecosystems Students, teachers, guests of the North Star and community groups also experience the most comprehensive and unique Marine Museum on the eastern sea board of Australia with over 200 hundred preserved and dried marine specimens. Interactive education sessions combine detailed biological concepts with the fascinating visualization of stereo microscope projection of live preserved marine specimens to big screen television. All students and guests will be inspired to lighten their carbon footprint and to make a difference in our collective efforts to preserve our ocean planet home.
Ted also wrote “Australian marine fish workbook” and “Marine biology for beginners: tropical Australia” with Neville Coleman, and was awarded “Queensland science teacher of the year”.
The Venus flower basket (below) is fascinating. It is the skeleton of a sponge that lives at depth, and a couple of shrimp (male and female) use it as a permanent shelter (see the Real Monstrosities website for their story). It is also home to bioluminescent bacteria, making it a glow-in-the-dark beauty.
Well done, Ted and Kerrie. Photographs do not do justice to the place.
The Marine Discoveries Centres Australia website also lists more such small facilities Australia-wide. You might like to visit some. I certainly intend to.