Learning reaches new depths

Learning reaches new depths

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Tracking a whale shark has become part of learning for Lynwood senior high school students involved in one of the biggest community science projects in WA.

Lynwood was one of 16 schools involved in the whale shark race around the world, run by Ecocean.

The program was a groundbreaking effort to resolve some of the unanswered questions about WA’s marine animal emblem, the whale shark.

The race began on July 20 and each school was tracking one of 16 whale sharks that had a tracker implanted on them.

Students then learn about the whale sharks and speak to scientists involved in the project.

Lynwood senior high school deputy principal Joe Willesee said the students loved watching their shark move through the ocean.

“It was a program advertised through the department and we felt it fitted within the school’s focus on sustainability,” she said.

We now get live data every time the shark comes to the surface to feed.

“We get to click on and see where our shark is swimming, where it goes, and how fast it swims.

“They’re looking at food systems, they’ll do some creative writing around it, one group has already done a video blog.”

Ms Willesee said their whale shark was referred to as A919 but the students were thinking of a name for it.

“As of (Monday) A919 had swum 391 kilometres since it was tagged two weeks ago,” she said.

Ecoocean chief scientist and researcher Brad Norman said whale shark conservation was important.

“The project is also about getting students excited about science and learning about our marine environment in Western Australia, as well as our state marine animal emblem,” he said.

“It is fantastic to see such enthusiasm.”