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MB5204 - Conserving Marine Wildlife: Sea Mammals, Birds, Reptiles

Credit points: 3
Year: 2023
Student Contribution Band: Band 2
Administered by: College of Science and Engineering

Marine wildlife, defined in this subject as air-breathing animals - marine mammals, birds and reptiles - that take most of their nutrition from the sea, present particular conservation challenges. Unlike marine species with planktonic larval forms, marine wildlife have life histories more similar to those of terrestrial wildlife. However, like other marine fauna, ensuring the successful management of marine wildlife is hindered by the difficulty and expense of access to the marine environment, the long-range movement of many of these species, often across international boundaries, and by the quandaries presented by international management regimes. All seven species of marine turtles are listed threatened by the IUCN. All four species of Sirenians are listed as Vulnerable. The prognosis for several populations of cetaceans is poor, and several species of marine birds are threatened by human activities. The course emphasises that knowledge and understanding of the biology of marine wildlife is crucial for the delivery of effective conservation actions. While we recognise social and economic dimensions of implementing such measures, less emphasis is placed on these cultural, economic and social factors. This subject considers the issues raised in managing marine wildlife. In particular, it examines: (1) The role of wildlife in marine systems and (2) Threatening processes, current and historical, impacting on marine wildlife (3) Indigenous peoples' use of marine wildlife, including management strategies (4) The theory and practice of the scientific study of populations of marine wildlife; and (5) The theoretical basis to, and practical application of, management practices to control human impacts on marine wildlife. The subject has an international focus, but special attention is given to the management in tropical and Australian coastal environments, including the Great Barrier Reef.

Learning Outcomes

  • understand both the causes of and management approaches to contemporary problems faced by marine wildlife;
  • demonstrate familiarity with current theory of, and controversies associated with, management of marine wildlife;
  • evaluate management plans and strategies to address problems of marine wildlife management;
  • identify some techniques used in the study of marine wildlife;
  • appreciate the effect of socio-political issues on identification and implementation of conservation management;
  • evaluate relevant research techniques.

Subject Assessment

  • Written > Test/Quiz 1 - (20%) - Individual
  • Participation > Class participation - (10%) - Individual
  • Final research report - (50%) - Individual
  • Written > Research report - (20%) - Individual.
EV3203, EV5203, MB3204


Townsville, Study Period 1, Internal
Census Date 23-Mar-2023
Coordinator: Professor Mark Hamann
Lecturers: Empro Helene Marsh, Professor Mark Hamann.
Workload expectations:

The student workload for this 3 credit point subject is approximately 130 hours.

  • 26 hours lectures
  • 26 hours workshops
  • assessment and self-directed study

Note: Minor variations might occur due to the continuous Subject quality improvement process, and in case of minor variation(s) in assessment details, the Subject Outline represents the latest official information.