Marine Discovery Series

From shipwrecks to nudibranchs, members of the public are invited to learn more about the fascinating world of the Solitary Islands Marine Park. The MDS lectures are held every other month at the Solitary Islands Aquarium and are free of charge.

This initiative is jointly run by Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre and the Solitary Island Marine Park Authority.

Climate Change Part 2 – “What is going on and why is it happening?”

Guest Speaker: Stephan Soule
When: Thursday, 20th of July 2017 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Understanding the principles of Climate Change due to human influences can often be confusing and complicated. Following on from an MDS lecture earlier this year on land based climate change, Stephan Soule, Manager of the NMSC outreach and education program will help explain anthropogenic influences on Earth’s Oceans through thought provoking information and practical demonstrations.

Stephan Soule is a science communicator with degrees in Aquatic Science and Education. The joining of these two disciplines has seen him involved with local and national projects to bring the world of science to a wide audience. He currently manages the NMSC’s Schools Program as well as the Solitary Islands Aquarium and is based at Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre.

“Fish in the Desert”- Fish Biodiversity in Soft Habitats of the Solitary Islands Marine Park

Guest Speaker: Dr. Arthur Schultz
When: Thursday, 18th of May 2017 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Oceanic soft sediments are often perceived to be “deserts of the ocean,” with little structural complexity and harsh physical conditions for fish to reside in. However a wide variety of species utilise this habitat type, and many are specifically adapted to this environment. Find out why this habitat type is far from a ‘desert’ and why this understudied environment deserves greater attention.

Arthur is a recent PhD graduate from Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre, where he worked in conjunction with Department of Industry staff examining patterns of fish biodiversity in unconsolidated sediments of the Solitary Islands Marine Park (SIMP). He works in both marine and freshwater ecology, and continues to be involved in research in the SIMP.

 “Climate Change”

Guest Speaker: Andrew Turbill, Environmental Educator
When: Thursday, 16th of March 2017 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Andrew, an environmental educator, climate change science communicator and wildlife naturalist writer, works with both the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Centre for Ecological Learning. With assistance from the Greenhouse Innovation Fund, Andrew has developed and delivered a range of climate change science education programs for schools, local government, community and industry groups over more than a decade.

Andrew will be presenting up-to-date data on how the planet is changing and will build our conceptual understanding of how and why these changes are happening whilst looking at the possible impacts on our local ecosystems.

“Ocean Giants”

Guest Speaker: Brett Vercoe
When: Thursday, 19th of January 2017 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Brett Vercoe is one of Australia’s most respected underwater image makers who specialises in big pelagic animal video documentation and deep blue water free-diving fishing.

Brett will discuss marine life including large sharks, humpback and sperm whales and he will show us some spectacular underwater footage.

“Citizen Science” – perspectives from two community programs

Guest Speaker: Dr Natalie Moltschaniwskyj and Professor Steve Smith
When: Thursday, 26th of October 2016 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Shifts in species` ranges are a frequently reported and globally ubiquitous impact of climate change, with rates of movement being particularly high in the sea. Citizen science projects have the capacity to record observations of their environment with precision and accuracy and provide useful guidance for managers regarding investments in impact assessment, monitoring, or potential management intervention.

Dr Natalie Moltschaniwskyj is the Director of Fisheries Research, NSW DPI and has been leading the citizen science project Redmap(Range Extension Database and Mapping project) in NSW since 2011. This project invites Australians to submit photographs and data about unusual observations of marine species made while undertaking marine activities providing an early warning system for changes occurring in the marine environment.

Professor Steve Smith is the Director of Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre, and the co-founder of the Sea Slug Census program. The Sea Slug Census program is an attempt to discover more about the diversity and monitoring potential of these amazing animals, by linking recreational underwater photographers with marine scientists. Most sea slugs also have rapid life-cycles (less than 1 year) and are therefore likely to respond rapidly to changing environmental conditions.

“Underwater Cultural Heritage in New South Wales”

Guest Speaker: Brad Duncan
When: Thursday, 8th of September 2016 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Brad Duncan is a Maritime Archaeologist and team leader for the Maritime Heritage Program at NSW Heritage Division, Parramatta, Australia. He specialises in maritime cultural landscapes, historic maritime infrastructure studies, and fishing and defense landscapes. Brad will look at the generation of underwater cultural heritage management in NSW and give specific examples of the range of sites and projects that have been managed and undertaken by the Maritime Heritage Program Team, Heritage Division.

His current research projects include regional interpretation of the maritime cultural landscapes of coastal and inland waterways, the archaeology of shipbreaking and adaptive reuse of hulks, deep water wrecks, WWII sites in the Solomon Islands, and remote sensing of convict sites on Norfolk Island. He has co-authored a book with Dr Martin Gibbs on community responses to shipwrecks.

 “The Merging of Origins” – an artist’s perspective

Guest Speaker: Jeffrey Baker, artist
When: Thursday, 17th of March 2016 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Jeffrey Baker has called Coffs Harbour home for many years, often using the beauty of the Solitary Islands Marine Park for inspiration in his artworks. Jeffrey will be familiar to many people as the man behind the richly coloured landscape artworks seen hanging in businesses and homes around the region. Jeffrey’s modern Australian style is characterised by his imaginative interpretation of land and sea scapes, using layering and intricate detailing to produce works of unparalleled beauty, with vibrant colours to create mesmerising landscapes which reveal more and more on each viewing.

 “Seeing the Light” – life on South Solitary Island

Guest Speaker: Rob Tresize, former Lighthouse Keeper
When: Thursday, 21st of January 2016 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Former Lighthouse Keeper, Rob Trezise came to South Solitary Island Lighthouse in 1974 as a relief Lighthouse Keeper. The lifestyle and environment had such a significant impact on him that a love of lighthouses and in particular South Solitary Island evolved. Today Rob is a staunch advocate for the retention and maintenance of the heritage lighthouses of Australia. Rob will talk about his time on South Solitary Island as well as highlighting the importance of protecting this heritage for future generations.

 Marine Biodiversity of Coffs Harbour: a personal perspective

Guest Speaker: Dr. Steve Smith, Associate Professor, Southern Cross University, National Marine Science Centre
When: Thursday, 19th of November 2015 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Focusing on the amazing, and often hidden, marine biodiversity of the region, Steve will present some of his best underwater images as a celebration of Coffs Harbour’s living coast. He will also talk about ways in which we can help to ensure the sustainability of the coast’s natural values into the future.

 “Blue Carbon”- Maximizing carbon sequestration using blue carbon

Guest Speaker: Dr. Isaac Santos, Professor, Southern Cross University, National Marine Science Centre
When: Thursday, 17th of September 2015 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Blue carbon is the carbon stored in marine and coastal ecosystems such as seagrass beds, mangroves, estuaries, and saltmarshes. These ecosystems may bury more carbon than topical forests but are being lost to urban and agricultural expansion. Prof. Santos will summarise ongoing NMSC research on blue carbon and discuss what can be done to maximize carbon sequestration in these productive coastal habitats.

 A health check-up for the corals of the Solitary Islands by the medical team from SURG

Guest Speaker: Nicola Fraser, President of the Solitary Islands Underwater Research Group (SURG)
When: Thursday, 16th of July 2015 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Climate change effects are expected to negatively impact corals, including the coral communities currently living within the Solitary Islands Marine Park. SURG recently completed a three-year monitoring programme, determining the health status of these animals and the information collected not only contributed to an international database on coral health, but can be used as baseline data to compare any future changes in local coral health. Join Nicola as she presents some of the findings from this study.

 Kelp forests of the Coffs Coast – their role in fish biodiversity and food webs

Guest Speaker: Laura Sanchez Peregrin, SCU postgraduate student.
When: Thursday, 21st of May 2015 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Laura studies kelp forests along the Coffs Coast, a region known to be a hot spot for climate change in Australia. Kelp forests have a high ecological and economical value, because of the great diversity of organisms found in them and the support they provide to other ecosystems by exporting organic matter. However, they are potentially endangered by rising temperatures and overfishing. Join Laura as she talks about kelp forests in Eastern Australia and how they are already being affected by climate change, including her research into fish biodiversity and food webs using the latest DNA techniques.

 “Local Aboriginal use of the marine environment”

Guest Speaker: Uncle Mark Flanders, Gumbaynggirr Elder, member of the Coffs Harbour Local Aboriginal Land Council and Discovery Ranger for National Parks and Wildlife Service.
When: Thursday, 19th of March 2015 at 6:30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Mark will share stories of traditional use of the land and the marine environment in and around Coffs Harbour. During his cultural talk, Uncle Mark will increase our understanding of the Aboriginal connection to coast. He will also share dreamtime stories, show artefacts and discuss the traditional use.

 “Exploring the Ocean in 3D”

Guest Speaker: Dr Renata Ferrari, University of Sydney
When: Thursday, 20 November 2014 at 6.30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Dr Ferrari is a marine biologist that dedicates her work to understanding how we can improve the way we use marine resources. As part of her research Dr Ferrari constructs fine-scale 3D models from underwater images using an existing combination of robotics, underwater stereo-photography and marine ecology. During the talk she will show some visually stunning 3D images of seafloor life; including 3D models she has constructed of the Solitary Islands Marine Park.

 “Not So Solitary” – Solitary Islands Marine Park Oral History Project

Guest Speaker: Nicola Johnstone, Manager Solitary Islands Marine Park
When: Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 6.30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Nicola has met some interesting characters in her 15 year career in the Solitaries region. It is the stories recollected by long term residents in conversations with Nicola and colleagues that led to the development of an oral history project in the Solitaries region. Nicola will introduce the project, the importance of oral histories in natural resource management and share some incredible stories recollected by residents in the region. The recollections highlight the connections people form with the marine environment, amazing wildlife encounters, environmental / species change observed over time and how community have been integral in the management of the park.

 “Mangrove Jack Meandering”- the biology and movements of mangrove jack in NSW

Guest Speaker: Toby Piddocke – NMSC PhD student
When: Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 6.30pm
Where: Solitary Islands Aquarium, National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Charlesworth Bay

Toby Piddocke is a PhD student at the National Marine Science Centre, and is working on a three year project on the fisheries biology and movements of mangrove jack in NSW. The project is funded by the NSW Saltwater Recreational Fishing Trust, and is being conducted jointly by Southern Cross University and NSW DPI Fisheries. Join Toby to gain insight into the secret life of this iconic species.