This is a multidisciplinary subject, with a strong focus on biology. This unit will explore marine ecosystems, with an introduction to the geological, physical and chemical characteristics of marine environments. A diverse range of marine environments are explored through a local and global context. These include coral reefs, the pelagic ecosystem, deep-sea and Antarctic environments.
The organisms which inhabit these marine habitats are examined through student-centered inquiries into the unique aspects of form and function which enable these organisms to persist in the various, and often challenging, marine conditions. Aspects of their amazing diversity and fascinating interactions with other species are also studied.
Student research is complemented by classroom activities weighted towards microscopy, organism dissection, and modeling of organisms and environmental features. Learning is through observation, discussion, hypothesis, modeling and trials, examination of the evidence, error analysis, listening and questioning.
Students will also consider and critique human impacts on the marine environment as well as issues of sustainability and the conservation and effective management of marine resources. The adverse implications of human practices such as pollution, overfishing and climate change are also examined. Sustainability is explored through the notion that current and future generations are responsible for building upon our prior knowledge of the ocean and its potential to help meet the needs of the world.
The practical components of the subject include laboratory exercises as well as field trips and other activities. These will enable students to see first-hand how marine biologists carry out their research, and students will undertake individual and team-based marine biology projects and investigations. The laboratory exercises and field trips will enhance student skills in scientific enquiry and method, teamwork, data gathering and analysis, report writing, and problem solving in addition to oral presentation skills.
Content covers big issue questions in marine biology, including the role of humans in threats to marine habitats and biota; designing experiments to test theories; using theories to correctly predict the consequences of changes to conditions (e.g. modelling); and the role of scientists in research in the future persistence and preservation of marine ecosystems.