The September school holidays are a busy time for Wild Mob. One of the projects running over the holidays was at Maria Island in partnership with the University of Tasmania.
Students from year 11 and 12 are invited to take part in the program which gains them credits for a first year course in environmental sciences at UTAS and also gains them extra points towards their year 12 marks. This project is a fantastic way to taste marine science and confirm that’s what the students want to do at university. The project is five long days of university level work but it is always enjoyed.
The day time activities include Fish surveys while snorkelling along a 50m transect tape, with the water temp sitting at a cool 11°C and the outside temp at a wind chill of 4.9°C this was a tall ask. Everyone went in and was kept busy conducting the surveys and didn’t feel the cold. This was to be the coldest day but also the least windy so the snorkel had to be done. The fish transect was looking at species and abundance differences between the sheltered water of the jetty and the exposed reef inside the islands marine reserve.
Another activity was taking plankton samples off the jetty in the morning and afternoon and counting and identifying what was in the samples. The results were made interesting due to a red tide (lots of carnivorous plankton that get so thick there is a layer of red on the surface) making them the predominant species.
The final daytime activity was intertidal surveys on both protected and exposed rocky reefs on either side of the island. Quadrats were placed randomly along a 50m tape and everything within was identified and counted. This survey is keeping an eye on species movements with the warmer waters and could see the initial effects of climate change.
With the days activities done there was still lectures and quizzes to be done and data to be entered so they could give presentations at the university back in Hobart on the last day.
The project was a huge success and will only get larger over the years. The students were fantastic and worked very hard over the week.