More than 80 students and teachers from 11 Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast schools swapped the classroom for the beach to learn about how local environmental actions can protect the Great Barrier Reef.
The day-long activities were part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s annual Future Leaders Eco Challenges that raise awareness about how activities on the land can affect the marine environment.
Students collected marine debris at the southern end of Kemp Beach — this activity was run by not-for-profit organisation Tangaroa Blue, which coordinates beach clean-ups around Australia.
Heidi Taylor from Tangaroa Blue said students collected and recorded data on the marine debris they found.
“Cigarette butts were one of the top ten items found at Kemp Beach,” she said. most people don’t realise cigarette butts are made of plastic and as students found out, they can have a real impact on marine creatures.”
The students also learnt about coastal dune vegetation and erosion, and participated in a nature-inspired printing activity mentored by prominent local artists Jett James and Renton Bishopric.
They also trekked up to Turtle Lookout to get a glimpse of the amazing Keppel Bay and learn some facts about turtles.
This year’s Rockhampton and Capricorn Coast event was delivered in partnership with Fitzroy Coastal Catchments and Fitzroy Basin Association.
The Future Leaders Eco Challenge event was also supported by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Reef Guardians Livingstone Shire Council.
GBRMPA’s Reef Guardian Schools program includes 308 schools and over 126,000 students from Torres Strait to Brisbane taking part in Reef education and environmental stewardship activities in their local area.
Further information about the Reef Guardian Schools program is available at www.gbrmpa.gov.au.