One of the most recent innovations is an animated television series featuring Porci the Porcupine Fish, titled Porci’s Ocean Patrol. Funded by Green Adelaide, episodes include information on the creatures that live in and around the Great Southern Reef, how to keep them healthy as well as facts about the Kaurna coastal culture. Five episodes have been released on YouTube with an extended pilot episode currently in production.
Other new installations at the centre include an immersive lighting experience in the Kaurna Meyunna Wodli – Cultural Education Space, an interactive climate change model, 15 virtual reality headsets, QR coding for displays and specimens throughout the centre, an interactive shoaling and schooling fish floor display, and the sounds of the ocean filling the centre to give a real-life experience of marine and coastal wildlife. Several hand-held diving games created with Flinders University, Positure and Monkeystack are also proving popular with visitors.
Funded by Catholic Education SA, SA Government, SA Water and a number of corporate sponsors, the marine centre has a close association with the adjacent Star of the Sea School, with students attending classes there each Friday.
Members of the local Henley Beach parish also get involved by knitting items, such as soft coral, for inclusion in some of the displays.
The new-look centre was unveiled to sponsors and heads of government at a special ‘reimagining’ event on February 23.
Partnerships and Marketing manager Carmen Bishop said it was important to let the community know that the centre – which is the only one of its kind in South Australia – had survived COVID and was back operating with even more to offer the 8000 visitors expected this year.
“We were closed to school visits for six months last year so instead we ran programs online,” she explained.
“We produced a number of videos and free online resources for teachers and students, developed a new website and updated educational materials including new curriculum content aligned with ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) that is suitable for Reception to Year 9 students.
“Even though we could not accept visits from schools we were able to welcome groups of students who were being home schooled. And no matter what happened, we still came in regularly and fed all our live creatures.”
Ms Bishop said bookings this year for the centre were going well and in addition to hosting excursions from schools, disability and aged care groups were now visiting. Monthly community open days and school holiday programs are always popular with spaces filling quickly.
The centre’s team is also taking portable displays out into the community, attending science fairs and schools in regional areas.
Relying heavily on volunteers and interns from the University of Adelaide to assist with running the centre, Ms Bishop said new people were always welcomed and she encouraged them to contact the centre for more information.
The Marine Discovery Centre, Military Road, Henley Beach, is open for excursions Monday to Thursday and during school holidays. For more information phone 8115 7402 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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