A new friendship with SOEL on Take a Break

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This week on the Take a Break program, we embarked on an exciting new project with our friends at Southern Ocean Environmental Link (SOEL) at the Queenscliff Harbour. This activity involves Cottage by the Sea participants checking the harbour filters strategically placed within the Queenscliff Harbour. These filters are designed to effectively eliminate macro and micro plastics, along with oil runoff present in the surface water. The primary goal of these filters is to prevent harbour pollution from entering Southern Port Phillip Bay.

SOEL educators lead the extraction of pollutants from the harbour filters. Once pollutants are extracted, participants categorise the collected debris into distinct pollution groups while documenting the data. This data will be used to:

1. Estimate the distribution of plastic debris within Port Phillip Bay.

2. Formulate effective strategies aimed at mitigating the harbour’s role as a source of ocean pollution.

This was our first time participating in this activity as a pilot program. The students were very enthusiastic, learning a great deal about the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans.

The activity was very engaging as the children collected the filters and brought them back to the Sea All Dolphin Swims/SOEL shop. The filters were emptied into tubs, and the children worked in small groups to pick through the lumps of seaweed to find micro plastics. They were all surprised at how much plastic was in the filters. This sparked a conversation about ways they could help conserve our beautiful oceans.

As the children sifted through the sea grass clumps, they spotted many ghost shrimp that were released back into the harbour. Ghost shrimp are an important part of the ecosystem because they help break down organic material and maintain the health of the seafloor.

Overall, it was a fantastic session. The children learned so much about the damage plastic has to our oceans and they all enjoyed an educational yet fun experience.

Thank you to the SOEL team for including us in this hopefully life-changing study and program. We look forward to enjoying many more sessions with Take a Break participants to come!