Free course offered on underwater ecology and conservation

FRASER Coast researcher Dr Kathy Townsend is among the experts who will present part of a free online course on underwater ecology and conservation.

manta ray underwater
Photo by Emma Li on

The four-week course is being offered by the University of the Sunshine Coast.

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‘Life Below Water: Conservation, current issues and possible solutions’ will be offered internationally through FutureLearn and will offer participants a deep dive into learning about the earth’s underwater ecosystems.

Dr Townsend is a leader in global research into sea turtles, manta rays and the impacts of plastic ingestion in marine life.

Her co-presenter is Dr Christofer Clemente, who specialises in the relationship between form, function and ecology of living and extinct animals.

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“Across just three hours each week of interactive, self-directed study, anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection can learn about the form, function and evolution of aquatic animals, with a focus on how they have adapted to survive,” Dr Townsend said. 

“Participants can develop knowledge and research skills in marine conservation and new understanding of the threats to underwater flora and fauna, such as climate change, plastic pollution and shrinking biodiversity.

“They are introduced to the impacts that humans are having on our precious marine ecosystems and the creatures that depend on them, which can provide greater insights into ways to ensure their protection.” 

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The final week of the course focuses on new developments and solutions to human impacts, including research by USC academics who are at the forefront of global research and international collaborations into aquatic and terrestrial systems. 

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USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Bartlett said the online course was an exciting opportunity to share USC’s work in promoting sustainable development on a global level.

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“This course is designed to provide an international audience with new knowledge and greater understanding of how the world’s exceptional biodiversity within underwater ecosystems and habitats has been negatively affected by human interaction,” she said. 

“Importantly, they can also gain insights into how to measure and minimise human impact on marine life.”  To join the course, click here

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