“Individually we are one drop. Together we are one ocean.”


Examples of topics and practicals that may be covered on a Day Visit or Marine Studies 1-3 night camp from Topics 1 and 2

Coastal Impacts

  • Explain how coastal engineering regulates water or sediment flow, affects currents and impacts the coastline, including marine ecosystems
  • Recognise that longitudinal studies allow scientists to observe changes occurring in marine environments (e.g. satellite imagery, aerial photography, field research)
  • Identify how organisms populate areas following changes in habitats (e.g. succession)


  • Describe the implications of connectivity to marine ecosystems
  • identify factors that lead to a loss of diversity (e.g. natural hazard, loss/fragmentation of habitat, pollution, exploitation, introduction of new species, disease)
  • Calculate the biodiversity of a marine ecosystem using Simpson’s diversity index (SDI)
  • Apply data to determine the biodiversity of a marine ecosystem using diversity indices
  • Define ecosystem resilience, disturbance and recovery.

Biotic components of marine ecosystems

  • Identify biotic components of marine ecosystems (i.e. trophic levels, food chains, food webs, interactions and population dynamics)
  • Categorise biotic interactions based on the following terms
    • symbiosis (i.e. parasitism, mutualism, commensalism and amensalism)
    • competition (i.e. intraspecific and interspecific)
    • predation
  • Classify organisms in trophic levels in a food web based on the following terms
    • producers
    • primary consumers
    • secondary consumers
    • tertiary consumers
    • decomposers
  • Describe how matter cycles through food webs, including the process of bioaccumulation

Abiotic components of the marine ecosystem

  • Understand that marine ecosystems are influenced and limited by abiotic factors in ways that may be different from terrestrial ecosystems due to the different physical and chemical properties of water compared to air
  • Distinguish abiotic components of marine ecosystems: light availability, depth, stratification, temperature, currents (water and wind), tides, sediment type and nutrient availability
  • Understand the importance of limiting factors and tolerance limits in population distributions
  • Apply the concept of zonation using the following terms: intertidal, pelagic (neritic, oceanic), benthic and abyss.


  • Categorise different groups of animals using structural characteristics
  • Identify and classify adaptations as anatomical (structural), physiological (functional) or behavioural
  • Describe the role of adaptation in enhancing an organism’s survival in a specific marine environment.

Marine Conservation

  • Recall the arguments for preserving species and habitats (i.e. ecological, economic, social, aesthetic, ethical)
  • Describe the direct and indirect values of marine ecosystems of Australia
  • Describe the role of stakeholders in the use and management of marine ecosystems
  • Discuss the specific value systems that identified stakeholders use (i.e. ecocentric, technocentric and anthropogenic)
  • Recognise the issues affecting a selected marine ecosystem
  • Apply the terms ecosystem resilience, disturbance and recovery as indicators of ‘health’ of marine environments to a chosen case study.

Possible practical activities

  • Estimate populations, e.g. survey count, quadrats, species density, percentage coverage, indirect or direct observation, catch and release.
  • Use field guides to identify species to a genus level.
  • Use a range of field equipment to measure abiotic factors related to marine environments.
  • Conduct an investigation to determine factors of population dynamics (e.g. density or distribution) and assess abiotic components of a local ecosystem case study. Emphasis should be placed on assessing the processes and limitations of the chosen technique (e.g. quadrat, transect). When students identify and describe marine species, they should use field guides and identification keys.
  • Identify physical structures of a specific marine organism (this could be virtual, practical or as a demonstration).