Guest Post: Ecology Students Make a Splash in Port MacDonnell by Shannon S. Lauchlan

This year’s third year marine ecology and biology field trip to Port MacDonnell was a huge success! A total of 32 students attended.

We kicked off the trip by getting wet in the crystal clear waters of Ewens Ponds. Students snorkelled through the ponds making observations along the way, with a few spotting the iconic Glenelg spiny crayfish.

Students snorkelling at Ewens Ponds. Photo: Sean Connell

The real highlight, was drifting through the picturesque channels between the ponds, surrounded by pristine forests of aquatic vegetation.

Ewens Ponds channels. Photo: Shannon Lauchlan

Later, students went down to the Port MacDonnell shoreline where they made observations about intertidal marine life.

Measuring limpet size. Photo: Shannon Lauchlan

From there we returned to camp where they formulated a research question in groups. Very early the next morning we returned to the shoreline where each group collected data to see if their initial observations were real.

Sampling on the rocky shore. Photo: Shannon Lauchlan

Data was analysed, results were found, and it was time to prepare their presentations! Students were challenged to present their results to the group in an entertaining way, while still accurately conveying their findings. We were incredibly impressed by the creativity of the students, from interpretative dances to ‘pin the limpet on the rock’, the students effectively worked together to produce a very entertaining and educational final evening for all.

Fieldwork presentations. Photo: Shannon Lauchlan

Those studying marine biology had the added challenge of creating graphical abstracts of their findings from the field trip, which can be found on twitter using the hashtag #UofAMarine.
We also spent some time visiting the local maritime museum to learn more about the local fisheries and about how Port MacDonnell was once the second largest trade destination in South Australia, as well as visiting some of the local natural wonders.

A fantastic graphical abstract by Jie Wang

All in all, all of the staff, students, and our amazing bus driver ‘Wayno’, had an incredible trip, where we laughed and learned together. We look forward to next year’s adventures!

Shannon is a PhD Candidate with the Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories in Adelaide University’s School of Biological Sciences and The Environment Institute.

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