The vision of creative local teacher Allister Martin back in 1978, resulted in the formation of the Marine Discovery Centre.  Once a dis-used scallop splitting shed, the centre was built out over the D’Entrecasteaux Channel in Woodbridge.

Marine Discovery Centre: Woodbridge, Tasmania

by Carol Haberle

Marine - Discovery Centre, Woodbridge
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The Marine Discovery Centre… where a vision became reality

Allister Martin, along with a group of passionate supporters, secured Federal Government funding to transform the local scallop shed into an educational facility, and in 1979 this centre opened to challenge students of all ages to learn of, to discover and to care about our fragile marine environment. This vision quickly became an integral part of the Tasmanian education experience, and management was taken over by the Tasmanian Department of Education. The Marine Discovery Centre is an annexe to the Woodbridge School.

Marine - Inside the Discovery Centre
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Inside the Marine Discovery Centre at Woodbridge

Teaching Students About the Marine Environment

Today, the centre offers very diverse shore and sea based programmes. Within the centre are fully equipped teaching areas, an aquarium room, a large marine pond, touch tanks and habitat tanks all housing a large collection of local cool temperate marine species including fish, sharks, crabs, sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea snails and octopus, all of which are used to provide interactive programmes for students from kindergarten to Year 12.

Marine - Fish Tanks
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Touch tanks, habitat tanks and marine life within the Discovery Centre

Primary classes are challenged with a wide range of activities both within the centre and along the foreshore of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. They learn of the marine history within the channel environment, examine the diversity of marine species living in the channel, learn of the native species and of introduced species, discover the impact we humans have on the sea, perform experiments into the effects of marine pollution, make marine inspired artworks and so much more. Within the centre children are encouraged to have a hands on approach, being encouraged to handle living species in a very safe manner, fully supervised, while also learning the dangers of the marine environment.

Marine - Primary Students Classroom
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Primary students classroom at the Marine Discovery Centre, Woodbridge

The RV Penghana: a Floating Marine Classroom

When studying within the centre, secondary students study live specimens, they learn how the different species all fit into the channel food web and how each species adapts to the environment. The Marine Discovery Centre also provides a floating classroom, a 13.5 metre research vessel, the RV Penghana, on which secondary students also explore the channel environment in more depth.


 

The RV Penghana is a fully equipped research vessel, with up-to-date GPS, radar and sonar equipment, also oceanographic and biodiversity sampling equipment, a variety of fishing technologies and an underwater video camera. On board this vessel students learn about navigation and weather collect oceanographic data and are able to study the biodiversity of the seabed in the channel.

Marine - Pam Elliott
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Secondary teacher, Pam Elliott shows us the marine classroom for secondary students

Staff at the centre are obvious in their passion and commitment, running professional development seminars for teachers, they also take part in community events and organise and run school holiday activities. The centre also run programmes for visiting schools, of which many thousands of students around the state have taken part in.  Outreach programmes are also taken to other parts of the state, which allows students in other schools the opportunity to participate in a range of marine programs at their own school.

The Cen­tre also encourages students to become involved in sci­en­tific research and has close links with sci­en­tists from the Uni­ver­sity of Tas­ma­nia, CSIRO Marine & Atmos­pheric Research, the Tas­man­ian Aqua­cul­ture & Fish­eries Insti­tute, as well as the Aus­tralian Antarc­tic Division.

Marine - the RV Penghana
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A floating classroom at the Marine Discovery Centre ~ the RV Penghana

D’Entrecasteaux Channel Discovery Centre

Thousands of students from primary and secondary schools statewide visit this centre each year, giving them the experience of hands on marine science within the centre or on board the research vessel RV Penghana. These students are challenged to discover, learn about and care for our fragile marine environment. The location, the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, supports one of Australia’s richest marine environments, these waters hold rich bio-diversity with a wide range of native flora and marine fauna.


 

At this centre, students learn first-hand how precious our marine resources are, and how they can be managed sustainably. They also learn the growing importance of aqua-culture, of Tasmania’s sea farming enterprises which within the channel are producing high quality, clean and green, atlantic salmon and shellfish, all of which are highly sought after both within Australia and overseas.

Marine - Technology Students Use
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Pam Elliott discusses with us some of the marine technology students use

First and foremost, this centre is an educational facility… but on Wednesday afternoons the centre is open to the public, to interested visitors and community groups. Visitors have the opportunity to study everything from the smallest plankton to the largest fish and to observe and handle marine animals. Entry is by donation, and so well and truly worth a visit. Knowledgeable teachers and staff will have you hooked in no time!

Marine - D'Entrecasteaux Channel
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The D’Entrecasteaux Channel, where students learn of the diversity of marine life

Carol and Kevin Haberle were guests in the Channel region
on behalf of Think Tasmania and were hosted by…

Other articles written during the same visit include…

All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography.
You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards
Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian.
If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.

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Map: Marine Discovery Centre, Woodbridge Tasmania…