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Estuarine Ecology Excursions

Teachers and students are reminded that activities involving the collection or removal of any material, including animals, plants, shells, rocks, sand or seaweed, are not permitted within the Bunurong Marine National Park.

Activities along the coast, including the Dinosaur Discovery and Rockpool Rambles, must take place at low tide. Tide times are charted here for Inverloch or can be downloaded from Marine Science Australia. (The times for Point Lonsdale are close enough to Inverloch tide times.)


Area of Study

Estuaries form a transition zone between river and ocean environments. Subjected to tides, waves and the influx of seawater, as well as flows of freshwater and sediment, they are some of the most productive natural habitats in the world.

The dynamic estuarine areas of Anderson's Inlet, from Inverloch to Tarwin Lower, are ideal sites for school excursions as they contain expansive intertidal environments. Here you'll find coastal scrub, open woodlands, mangroves, saltmarsh and mudflats. Anderson's Inlet is a significant site for wading birds, fish breeding, and endangered species such as the orange bellied parrot.

Screw Creek, which runs into the estuary at the eastern end of Inverloch, is a particularly good destination for school groups as it's easily accessible with picnic facilities and toilets nearby.

Aims of Excursion

  • Compare the variety of ecosystems on the estuary
  • Examine and identify the distinct plants and animals found within these ecosystems
  • Identify and describe relationships between organisms and their surroundings
  • Identify and draw simple foods chains/food webs that exist in estuarine areas
  • Observe the behaviour of animals in the area
  • Identify the effect of climatic and tidal changes on the area
  • Identify the effect of human activity on these ecosystems
Work sheets are available from Bunurong Coast Education for these activities.

Time Required

Depending on your focus and the year level involved, these activities would more than fill a day excursion. The mudflats and Screw Creek are best visited a couple of hours either side of low tide.

Equipment

To carry out studies, the following equipment would be useful:
  • tape measures or hula hoops to mark out quadrats
  • thermometers and pH meters to compare the abiotic factors
  • dip nets and digging tools to examine the animal life in the sea grass and mudflats
  • BCE provides some materials in consultation with visiting schools.
  • Students should wear sun protection.

    Supporting Resources

    These are all available from the Bunurong Environment Centre, Inverloch.
    Anderson Inlet Waders and Waterbirds - SGCS, $12
    Bunurong Coastal Reserve - E Brewster, $5
    Environmental Activities around Inverloch - SGCS, $5
    Beachcombing Guide for South Gippsland Coast Areas - leaflet, $1
    Shells of the Inverloch Areas - leaflet, $1
    Screw Creek Nature Walk - leaflet, free
    Rockpooling Around the Bunurong - Eagger and Rowe, $6
    Our Coast - CD, $10
    Indigenous Plants of Bass Coast Shire (pdf)

  • estuary