Protecting our endangered sea lions
Saving Sea Lions was the theme of an educational creative awareness and fundraising initiative involving the Year 10 Bush Rangers at Rockingham Senior High School’s Education Support Centre. The Creative Conservation art, education, environment and action program focused on the Australian Sea Lions in the local Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.
Australian Sea Lions, beautiful and fascinating animals, are continuing to decline in numbers and are among the world’s most endangered pinnipeds (seals, sea lions and walruses).
The concept for the school project arose from a meeting at a Bush Rangers WA Conference between Bush Rangers Unit Leader Rachel Nixon and cartoonist Marnie Giroud, Director of Eco Gecko, whereby three incursions were organised.
Marine scientist, Associate Professor Chandra Salgado Kent, Edith Cowan University and Director of Oceans Blueprint, spoke to the participating students about a recent study showing a 60% (plus) decline over 40 years in the Australian Sea Lion population. She said the number of Australian sea lion pups was estimated recently at just over 2,700 across 80 known breeding sites off the coasts of South Australia and WA.
Chandra’s website https://www.oceansblueprint.com/asl, lists threats to the species, including the impacts of commercial fishing, marine debris, pollution and oil spills.
The students, all with special needs, also met Marnie Giroud and fashion designer Melissa Cook of activewear company GIROUD. Marnie showed the students how to draw seal lion cartoons and illustrate ‘Be Seal Wise’ conservation messages developed by the Dept of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).
The sea lion designs were then replicated by Melissa to create a limited edition set of leggings using environmentally sustainable fabric. These, along with T-shirts, mugs and bags were marketed to staff, family, friends, DBCA staff and sea lion researchers Australia-wide, with all proceeds donated to the Australian Sea Lion Research Project.
Dr Holly Raudino, Dr Kelly Waples, and Miecha Bradshaw from DBCA explained how they monitor and count sea lions and research their behaviour.
Joselyn Juraszek from DBCA’s ‘Know Your Patch’ Program encouraged the students to continue investigating and caring for the local sea lions and congratulated them on doing something about a local issue.
Distinguished former Chief Scientist for WA and Parks Ambassador, Professor Lyn Beazley AO read a letter from WA Premier Mark McGowan congratulating the students on their efforts.
For more information or to book a Creative Conservation incursion for your school, contact: Marnie Giroud, Eco Gecko: https://www.facebook.com/EcoGeckoEandD/