Marine Ecosystems

About The Program

The EcoCentre provides a wide range of marine excursion activities at St Kilda Beach, St Kilda Pier and West Beach. Using Port Phillip Bay as our outdoor classroom we have a variety of hands-on activities that allow schools to tailor their excursion to match curriculum needs, inquiry topic and student projects.

• What is the marine ecosystem of Port Phillip Bay?
• Why is it important to look after our marine ecosystems?
• How can humans help Port Phillip Bay?


St Kilda Beach, St Kilda Pier, and West Beach, VIC

Excursion Duration:

4 hours (10am – 2pm). Shorter excursions (60min, 90min or 2 hour) can also be arranged.

Year Level:

Prep to Year 12

Maximum number of classes:

4 (Group max: 25)

Cost per class:

$500 + GST


 All terms on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Most suitable in the warmer, drier months of term 1 and 4.

Program Themes:

 Marine ecosystems, Port Phillip Bay, Little Penguins, molluscs, coastal erosion, Indigenous perspectives, STEAM, STEM, plant ecosystems, wildlife, shell survey, Baykeeper, science excursion

• F-2 Living things have a variety of external features and live in different places where their basic needs, including food, water and shelter, are met (VCSSU042)
• F-2 Use informal measurements in the collection and recording of observations (VCSIS052)
• 3-4 Represent and communicate observations, ideas and findings to show patterns and relationships using formal and informal scientific language (VCSIS072)
• 3-4 Science knowledge helps people to understand the effects of their actions (VCSSU056)
• 3-4 The diversity and longevity of Australia’s first peoples and the significant ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are connected to Country and Place (land, sea, waterways and skies) and the effects on their daily lives (VCHHK078)
• 5-6 Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (VCSSU074)
• 5-6 The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment (VCSSU075)
• 5-6 Scientific understandings, discoveries and inventions are used to inform personal and community decisions and to solve problems that directly affect people’s lives (VCSSU073)
• 7-8 Ways that flows of water connect places as they move through the environment and the ways this affects places (VCGGK106)
• 7-8 Interactions between organisms can be described in terms of food chains and food webs and can be affected by human activity (VCSSU093)
• 9-10 Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (VCSSU121)

There are two options for this excursion. The 3 class excursion includes three 1 hour activities listed below (selected upon booking). The 4 class excursion includes four 45 min activities listed below (selected upon booking). Shorter excursions (60min, 90min or 2 hour) can also be arranged.
1. Marine Ecosystems – Little Penguin Colony
Explore the complex and fascinating marine ecosystems in the Bay including Little Penguins and develop an understanding of animal behaviour, adaptations and survival needs of marine animals in Port Phillip Bay.

2. Beach Treasure Hunt (Intertidal zone exploration)
Undertake a beach treasure hunt and classify treasures into living and non-living. Investigate the features and adaptations that help living animals survive in this marine environment and make a pledge to protect them. Sketching of adaptations is part of the 1 hour activity.

3. Coastal Erosion (STEAM)
Through the ‘erosive nature of waves’ and ‘sandcastle weather proofing’ experiments students will learn about wind, water and weather as factors that cause erosion. The 1 hour activity includes experimenting with design features to reduce the impacts of erosion.

4. Shoreline Shell Survey (STEAM)
Understand the biodiversity of shells (molluscs) in the Bay and how molluscs could be affected by climate change, acids and pollution. A STEAM data collection and classification activity.

5. Plant ecosystems and wildlife walk
Find and identify Indigenous plant species, understand plant zonation in coastal areas and measure wind speed to determine the influences on plant location. Understand how urban development and community action can make a huge positive and negative difference to the long term sustainability of our foreshores.

6. Indigenous Connection to Country
Walk through West Beach to explore our Indigenous plants, and understand how these are used for food and resources by the Boon Wurrung people. Gain insight to how local Aboriginal people lived in connection to the seasons and flows of nature. How did they have a different impact to today’s impacts?

Note: Please choose either ‘Plant Ecosystems and Wildlife Walk’ or ‘Indigenous Connection to Country’, not both.

Restrictions: Our group sizes are capped at 25 students and our maximum is 100 per excursion. More than 4 classes can be accommodated by special request.
We will send you instructions for transport and a day plan after you book.

7. Live Mollusc Survey (STEAM)
Only available to senior secondary aged groups of 15 or less. The EcoCentre has a permit to dig up live molluscs to record data for research purposes. Students will conduct a 3 quadrant transect to collect data on live molluscs and record their findings.


7. Save Sam the Seadragon
Our puppet Sam the Weedy Seadragon has an important message to share about the life in Port Phillip Bay, food chains and energy exchanges within an ecosystem. As Victoria’s marine emblem Sam was happily surviving in Port Phillip Bay until plastic started to enter the ecosystem. Through hands-on activities students will learn about why plastics are amazing but when they get out of control they cause problems for our wildlife.

"We had a wonderful day and the content covered by our educator was well structured and relevant to our in class topics. His expert knowledge was extremely well received by the students (and staff)."

- Year 8 Science teacher"

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Please note, outdoor excursions only run on Tues, Wed, Thursdays.

School Information

Organising Teacher Details

The EcoCentre acknowledges the Kulin Nations, including the Yalukut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung language group, traditional owners of the land on which we are located.

We pay respects to their Elders past and present, and extend that respect to other Aboriginal and Elder members of our multicultural community.