The vision of creative local teacher Allister Martin back in 1978, resulted in the formation of the Marine Discovery Centre. Once a disused scallop splitting shed, the centre was built out over the D’Entrecasteaux Channel in Woodbridge.
Marine Discovery Centre: Woodbridge, Tasmania
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.
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.
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.
RV Penghana: 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.
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.
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 aquaculture, 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.
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!
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.