On Wednesday the 26th of October, Stage 5 Marine Students plus their teachers, Mr Nicholas McFarlane and Ms Courtney Harvey, attended an excursion to the Irukandji Shark & Ray Centre in Anna Bay. Students and staff received hands-on education experiences with qualified professional marine biologists, exploring different species of sharks, rays, fish and eels all cared for at the Shark & Ray Centre, as well as gaining valuable knowledge about the plight of sharks throughout Australia and the world.
Students were offered the opportunity of a lifetime, with up close and personal encounters with the resident leopard sharks in the large lagoon environment. Students waded into knee deep water and allowed the sharks to swim all around their legs, using the opportunity to feel the rough, sandpaper-like skin of the sharks. Simultaneously, another group of students engaged in a meet and greet with the youngest, smallest shark in the centre, watching her frolic in the currents and request scratches from the students as she swam by in the nursery tank.
To conclude the experience, students had the opportunity to feed the various species of stingrays by hand, step into the stingray lagoon and enjoy their slimy, snot-covered bodies glide over their feet and watch as the monstrous, 300kg smooth rays swam past. Many students found the stingrays friendly nature to be enjoyable, with the rays having no problem sitting on the feet students attempting to get more food!
After a quick visit to the gift shop, we then set out for home, stopping for lunch on the way, with the students busily chatting away about their favourite parts of the day.
Quotes from students:
The excursion at the Irukandji Shark and Ray centre was enjoyable because we had the opportunity to feed the stingrays as well as pat the sharks. This was an interesting excursion as we learned about the sharks and stingrays in the centre.
Yesterday at the shark and ray centre I enjoyed learning about sharks. It was cool to find out about their behaviours, habits, getting to pat them and the baby shark. Feeding the stingrays was also really interesting.
In terms of the marine excursion, I thought it was a really great opportunity for the class as a whole to finally get out and do something marine related. For the last year and a half, we’ve been promised this excursion so to finally get out and do it was something really fun. Being at the shark and ray centre was something different but it was actually really cool.
The interactive hands-on experience of the Shark and Ray centre made it an easier way to comprehend and learn the content that the instructor talked about throughout the day. It captured our attention with live experience and gained an appreciation for these marine creatures. Being able to touch these creatures in a safe environment gives us the opportunity we wouldn’t be able to have in the wild.
I thought that the marine excursion to Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters was educational and helped us gain first-hand experience with sharks and rays. The instructor that took us around the site helped us to learn new things about sharks, rays, and pretty much everything about them
I really enjoyed when we had the talk on sharks at the start. The information given was clear and very interesting. Did you know that Australia is home to a couple hundred different species of sharks but only three have accidentally attacked humans? These three are the Great White Shark, Bull Shark and Tiger Shark. I enjoyed the talk because not only did we get to watch a variety of different small sharks feed and learn more about the large nurse shark.
I thoroughly enjoyed swimming with sharks and the rays. The sharks were a very unusual texture and they felt kind of rough like sandpaper. The rays however were how I expected to feel, they were very slimy and most of their outer layer is made of mucus and alcohol.