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Indigenous students learn about a marine science future

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11 June 2014
Touring the National Sea Simulator. Photo: Helios Martinez

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) recently welcomed 40 Indigenous students and eight teachers from the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science (ATSIMS) program to learn about the wonders of the ocean world and possible marine-related careers. ATSIMS was started in 2013 and the founder Joe Pollock, a graduate of AIMS@JCU has maintained the annual AIMS day since the program's inception.


“The AIMS day is an important part of the ATSIMS program as it gives students the chance to see scientists studying a vast array of marine species, from coral to mangroves, in a world-class laboratory setting,” said Dr Pollock.


The students toured the National Sea Simulator and learned from researchers about varied topics such as water quality, coral reef health and the crown of thorns starfish.


“Students enjoy meeting real-life scientists at AIMS and learning about the diverse career paths open to them: from being engineers to technicians to biologists,” Dr Pollock added.

Learning about AIMS and research into coral coring. Photo: Helios Martinez

He explained that the success of ATSIMS activities is largely due to tremendous partnership support from schools, Community Education Counsellors, JCU and AIMS researchers and staff, as well as local Traditional Owners and volunteer presenters. Pollock added that by immersing Indigenous high school students in field-based science programs at AIMS, the Orpheus Island Research Station and James Cook University (JCU), the ATSIMS program helps raise awareness about the health of marine environments on the Great Barrier Reef.


“The program also promotes a ‘hands-on’ community-based approach to reef conservation,” he concluded.


The following key partners gave generous support to make the 2015 ATSIMS program possible: AIMS, James Cook University, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, AIMS@JCU, World Wildlife Fund for Nature and Townsville City Council.


This year, ATSIMS also partnered with Gudjuda and Girringun Rangers.