Cuttlefest citizen science and school activities
Cuttlefest celebrates the amazing marine life in our oceans and provides a great opportunity for schools, community groups and citizens to learn more about our local coast and marine environment and to get involved in on-ground conservation projects. Use the links below for great ideas on how you can get involved in citizen science and school activities for the annual Cuttlefest (held in Whyalla during winter) and also throughout the year.
- Mangrove-Saltmarsh activities
- Shorebird and beach-nesting bird activities
- Marine debris activities
- Whale activities
- Cuttlefest school projects
- Marine art for public display
- Marine education resources
- Marine Park resources
Citizen Science - photopoint monitoring (Pix Stix)
Pix Stix is an Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board citizen science project monitoring long-term changes in the environment. You can get involved by visiting the Cowleds Landing Sanctuary Zone (Eight-Mile Creek Beach) and texting us a photo taken from one of the two photo monitoring sites. Your image will then be added to our online gallery for everyone to see!
The Pix Stix at Cowleds Landing Sanctuary Zone have been set up to monitor recruitment of mangroves in response to rising sea levels, and to observe coastal squeeze phenomenon affecting shrubby samphires.
Learn more about Samphires, thornbills and tipping points.
The Cowleds Landing Sanctuary Zone protects mangroves, tidal creeks, saltmarsh, sand and mud flats, soft bottom and seagrass. These habitats provide an important nursery area for many species such as snapper, blue swimmer crabs and whiting as well as foraging habitat for internationally important shorebird species. Saltmarsh habitat is a key part of this sanctuary zone and provides an ecological link between the land and the marine environment. It also acts as a buffer and filter, helping to keep the water in the sanctuary zone clean.
To learn more about saltmarsh coastal flora download a free copy of the Samphires of the Eyre Peninsula Plant Identification Guide.
Coastal Flora of Whyalla: A field guide to the native plants of Whyalla’s coastal zone, Author Larry Bebbington, books are also available for purchase from the Whyalla Visitor Centre 1800 088 589.
We have Pix Stix at other sites across the Eyre Peninsula.
School Activities - Mangrove-Saltmarsh Field Trips
Can’t make it to a field trip? Learn all about saltmarshes from an expert.
Peri Coleman from Delta Environmental Consulting presents an engaging series of video talks aimed at community decision makers, coastal ambassadors, teachers, bird groups and interested public.
- Blue carbon in our saltmarshes (8.09mins)
- Saltmarshes and saline wetlands: Learning about them, caring about them (19.44mins)
- Saltmarsh restoration: What have we learnt? (34.19mins)
- Connections: Saltmarshes joining the land and the sea (11.37mins)
- Tipping point for saltmarshes: Scramble for the high ground (22.54mins)
We have 37 types of shorebirds that annually migrate to Australia on some of the most lengthy and arduous journeys in the animal kingdom, but there are also 18 shorebirds that call Australia home all year round. Whyalla’s sand and mud-flats plays host a variety of resident and migratory shorebirds including Caspian Tern, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Banded Stilt.
Beach-nesting shorebirds including Oyster catchers, red-capped plover and the hooded plover live on Eyre Peninsula beaches and breed in the summer months when people use beaches the most. Sadly due to disturbance, trampling, and predators (including our pet pooches) only 1 in 10 hooded plover nests hatch, and 1 in 5 chicks survive until they can fly.
We can all help boost the survival of beach nesters by observing ‘Sharing the Shoreline’ signs, staying below the high water mark, keeping dogs on a leash, giving nesting birds and chicks space, and watching where you walk as eggs and chicks are well camouflaged and hard to see.
If you would like to learn more about Beach Nesting Birds visit the Birdlife website.
Learn how the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, is helping the threatened hooded plover and other beach nesters through our Saltmarsh Threat Abatement and Recovery project.
School Activities – Shorebirds and Beach-Nesting Birds
- BirdLife Australia pdf resource: Bringing the Coast to the Classroom Beach-Nesting Birds Education Kit
Marine debris is a technical term used for rubbish found in the ocean. It includes ropes, plastics, fish nets, packaging tape, bottles and other thoughtlessly discarded things. This rubbish can come from many places; including ships, fishing and recreational boats. It can come from city streets carried into the ocean from the storm-water drains.
Are you concerned about rubbish pollution in our oceans and on our beaches and how this affects our local marine life? Do you want to do something to help?
Anyone can get involved in their daily life and Take 3 for the Sea when visiting the beach or take up the challenge and ‘Choose To Refuse’ single-use plastic this Plastic Free July and for evermore thereafter.
Citizen Science - Adopt a beach marine debris monitoring
In response to community concern about the amount of rubbish on local beaches, a Marine Debris Monitoring and Adopt a Beach Program was established in 2008. You can take the lead on adopting a beach for in the Whyalla area using the Tangaroa Blue Australian Marine Debris Initiative.
Making your clean up work count - steps to adopting
1) Contact Landscape Officer Barbara.Murphy2@sa.gov.au or phone 0427 188 546 to discuss what's involved (register your beach/area of interest, define the size of clean up area, frequency, etc.)
2) Download a data sheet
3) Read the manual (or watch the film)
Citizen Science - AusMap microplastics monitoring
AUSMAP is a nation-wide citizen science initiative, surveying Australian beaches for microplastic pollution. Data collected will help researchers determine how much microplastic pollution has already entered our aquatic ecosystems and its effects on the marine food chain.
Ausmap training involves a classroom component learning about the microplastic pollution in our oceans and an overview of the sampling methodology. Participants then head out doors to the beach to collect samples for processing back in the classroom. An assessment is completed at the end of the training which qualifies you to be an Ausmap collaborator and collect samples to contribute data to the National Database. Register your interest in attending an Ausmap training by completing this online form.
Eyre Peninnsula Landscape Board can host Ausmap microplastic sessions for volunteers and school groups in Year 5 and above. To register your interest, contact Landscape Officer Barbara.Murphy2@sa.gov.au or phone 0427 188 546.
School Activities – Marine rubbish and pollution
Take your class (Year 5 and above) on an excursion to learn about microplastics in the ocean and collect samples for the Ausmap National Database. See above for further details.
Take your class on excursion to learn about marine debris and clean-up a local beach. Blog about your clean-up on social media to inspire other schools.
Plastic Free July
Get your class to join the challenge and ‘Choose To Refuse’ single-use plastic during Plastic Free July.
Marine debris art for public display
Draw awareness to rubbish in our marine environment by creating an art piece from marine debris collected from our beaches. See the “thong cuttlefish” created by Stuart High School students on display at the Whyalla Visitor Centre for inspiration.
Beach Detectives Sessions (suitable for younger children)
A Whyalla Foreshore excursion for younger students to investigate what belongs on the beach and what doesn’t. Where litter comes from, how it ends up on the beach and what we can do about it.
For advice and support, or to book Marine Debris talk or Beach Detectives session contact Landscape Officer Barbara.Murphy2@sa.gov.au or phone 0427 188 546.
Three different whale species have been spotted at Stony Point during the Cuttlefest season, including Humpback whales, Southern Right Wales, and even a Pygmy Sperm Whale seen outside of the species normal range.
Citizen Science - whale spotting
If you hang out at the Cuttlefish Coast Sanctuary Zone with a pair of binoculars you might be lucky enough to spot a whale and snap a picture.
Be sure to check out this guide to find out how to tell different whale species apart.
Report your whale sightings here. To ensure the most accurate information is made available, sightings are added to the log only once they have been confirmed by a trained whale spotter.
For further whale watching information, or if you would like training to become a whale spotter, please contact the SA Whale Centre on (08) 8551 0750 or email email@example.com
School activities – whales
STEAM challenge for students
Use Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics - research and problem solving skills to solve a real world Natural Resource Management problem with solutions that can be implemented in the local Whyalla community. Students will have the opportunity to present their projects to Landscape Officers and exceptional projects may be invited to present to the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board.
Impacts of feeding wild dolphins
Marine Mammals Regulations prohibit touching or feeding dolphins and other activities that impact on the animal’s wellbeing. How can we change the way the Whyalla community interacts with dolphins at the Whyalla marina?
Coastal saltmarsh damage caused by vehicles
Temperate Coastal Saltmarshes play an important role in marine environments and are listed as a threatened ecological community under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. How can we stop vehicle damage to saltmarshes on our coastal fringes and restore impacted areas?
Marine debris pollutes our oceans and is hazardous for marine life. Investigate where the rubbish on our beaches come from and how can we stop it getting there?
Counting cuttlefish numbers can be a challenge when they aggregate to breed in winter beneath chilly ocean waters. What if there was a better way? After mating and laying eggs cuttlefish die. Counting and measuring the calcium carbonate buoyancy device (cuttle bones) that wash up on the beach is a non-intrusive method of collecting data on cuttlefish numbers and size. Challenge your class to set up their own citizen science cuttlefish monitoring program for the Whyalla Community.
Network Blue underwater monitoring
An opportunity exists for an Eyre Peninsula school to sign up with Project Network Blue to put an underwater monitoring rig out at Stony Point.
Species factsheets and habitat dioramas
Research local species and write a fact sheet, or create a habitat diorama for public display.
- Life in our bioregions fact sheet (Northern Spencer Gulf)
- An Underwater guide to plants and animals in South Australia
- Marine Life in the Great Southern Reef
For more information or to register class projects and arrange for children’s work displayed in a public space for Cuttlefest contact Landscape Officer Barbara.Murphy2@sa.gov.au or phone 0427 188 546.
Barngarla Sea Country
Learn about the First Nations people of the Whyalla area, the Barngarla people, and find out about their connection with the sea in and around Whyalla.
Register your class to have your Cuttlefest marine inspired art displayed in a public space, in shops and cafés around town so it can be appreciated by the Whyalla community and visitors to our city.
- Draw awareness to rubbish in our marine environment by creating an art piece/s from marine debris collected from our beaches. See the “thong cuttlefish” created by Stuart High School students at the Visitor Centre for inspiration.
- Create a huge public art piece like Nicholson Avenue Primary School’s cuttlefish mural painted on a school building.
- Create a sand sculpture or ephemeral art pieces on the beach and take photos to display.
- Aboriginal students - we would love to see some “Sea Country” art displayed in our community.
To register class projects and arrange for children’s work to be displayed in a public space for Cuttlefest, contact Landscape Officer Barbara.Murphy2@sa.gov.au or phone 0427 188 546.
Cuttlefish art trail
Explore local artwork around Whyalla. Get a map of the art trail from the Whyalla Visitor Information Centre.
Ocean Literacy means understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. There are 7 principles of Ocean Literacy — ideas scientists and educators agree everyone should understand about the ocean. Join the Network to build a more ocean literate society!
Of all the species that exist on our planet today, the Giant Cuttlefish is perhaps the most alien of all. Possessing three hearts, green blood and eight arms, the cuttlefish are able to change the colure and texture of their skin and completely morph their body shape. Lean more fun facts about cuttlefish with these resources.
- Great Southern Reef cuttlefish page
- Study Guide
- Documentary Film - Green Blooded Giants. DVD copies of the documentary film are available for purchase from the Whyalla Visitor Centre ph1800 088 589. Schools can loan a copy of the film from Landscape Officer Barbara.Murphy2@sa.gov.au or phone 0427 188 546.
Great Southern Reef
Fringing Australia from Kalbarri in Western Australia, down and around the rugged southern coast and up into northern New South Wales, the Great Southern Reef is an interconnected network home to thousands of species; including the iconic giant cuttlefish, leafy seadragons, Australian sealions and giant kelp forests. GSR Education resources are available online for teachers and home schooling parents. Lessons 7 and 8 include a cuttlefish investigation. There are also numerous pages full of interesting facts about other species.
Cool Australia resources
Cool Australia Resources curriculum resources save teachers time. Search by year topic and year level to access downloadable resources that are already linked to the Australian curriculum. There’s over sixty ocean conservation curriculum resources to choose from.
Blue the film
BLUE the film aims to inspire lifelong guardians with some simple ideas on how you can become actively involved in the protection of all our oceans. Schools can loan a copy of Blue the film from Landscape Officer Barbara.Murphy2@sa.gov.au or phone 0427 188 546.
The Rock Pool
The Rock Pool is a hub for South Australian coast and marine resources.
World Oceans Day, 8 June
A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival. Celebrating World Oceans Day provides a unique opportunity to honour, help protect, and conserve our world’s shared ocean.
Adventures by the sea
Developed by Nature Play SA, Adventures by the Sea is a pocket-sized guide to help South Australian families explore and discover the many wonders along the coastline. It is full of watercolour paintings, photographs, facts and activities ideas for children of all ages.
Schools can loan a copy from Landscape Officer Barbara.Murphy2@sa.gov.au or phone 0427 188 546.
Whyalla’s marine environment lies within the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park and we have three sanctuary zones in the local area. Cuttlefish Coast Sanctuary Zone between Stony Point and Black Point; Cowleds Landing Sanctuary Zone between Eight-Mile Creek Beach and Cowleds Landing; and Fairway Banks Sanctuary Zone offshore in the Spencer Gulf. Sanctuary zones within marine parks have been set aside to help protect breeding grounds and other areas vital to marine life. Sanctuary zones are ‘no take’ areas, meaning you can’t collect fish or use fishing gear in them.
If you are unsure where Sanctuary Zone boundaries are, ‘Closures Mapping’ on PIRSA’s SA Recreational Fishing Guide App for your mobile phone is a useful guide as it acts as a GPS putting you on the map so you can check to make sure you are outside of Sanctuary Zone boundaries before casting a line. Resources:
- Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park
- Baseline and Predicted Changes for Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park
- South Australia Marine Parks 5 Year Status Report
- An underwater guide to plants and animals in South Australia
Marine Parks of South Australian Waters Teaching Resources
The unique Giant Australian Cuttlefish breeding event occurs in the waters of the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park. Bring this internationally unique event into your classroom using Marine Parks of South Australian Waters teaching resources. These resources are the first of their kind in South Australia and have been updated for version 9 of the Australian Curriculum. See versions 8 and 9.
Be part of an invention convention about marine parks in South Australian waters - Primary School Teachers Resource (Years 5 & 6)
Dive into marine science in your classroom and inspire your students to design a scientific technique to monitor or survey animals, plants and the environment in South Australia’s marine parks. This curriculum-linked, Primary School (Years 5 & 6) resource is designed to support teachers in schools implement teaching and learning programs about marine parks in South Australian waters through STEM and integrating the Sustainability Cross Curriculum Priorities and General Capabilities
Understanding more about marine parks in South Australian waters – Secondary School Teacher Resource (Years 7-10)
Explore the connections that we have with the ocean and inspire your students to design a new ecotourism venture in your local marine park. This curriculum-linked, Secondary School resource is designed to support teachers in schools implement teaching and learning programs about marine parks in South Australian waters through Geography, Technologies, Science and Work Studies and integrating the Sustainability Cross Curriculum Priorities and General Capabilities
Sealions: Life by a Whisker
Teach and Learn resources about the Australian sea lion and marine conservation, in support of Sealion Spotter and the movie ‘Sea lions: Life by a Whisker’, currently being aired on ABCIVIEW.
Landscape Officer (Whyalla)
0427 188 546