Hillarys Boat Harbour is the site for a new world-class public marine education and interpretive centre which was opened today.
The Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre is the public face of the new $16million Department of Fisheries’ Laboratories, situated at the northern end of the harbour.
Fisheries Minister Jon Ford opened the centre today and said it was a great educational resource for the State’s schools which would help Western Australians of all ages understand the need to preserve WA’s aquatic environment.
“This discovery centre celebrates the amazing variety of marine, river and estuarine life WA has to offer and also reveals the issues, risks and concerns associated with human interaction and climate change,” Mr Ford said.
“Our pristine aquatic environment can be maintained through careful scientific research and management.
“The centre shows the importance of ecologically maintainable development in each of the State’s regions.”
The discovery centre is one of the few facilities in WA to combine a public interpretive and education attraction with a major marine science building. Its centrepiece is an exhibition hall, low-lit with a rich blue ambience to simulate being underwater.
In these atmospheric surroundings, visitors can explore the mysteries of WA’s marine life along the vast 12,500km coastline from the Kimberley to the south coast.
Interactive touch-screen technology and a touch-pool make it a hands-on experience, designed to appeal to children and adults, while numerous wide-screen audio-visual displays show clear and startling underwater vision of the State’s aquatic environment.
A hologram of a great white shark is projected out into the discovery centre’s exhibition hall. In other areas, visitors can experience first-hand the claustrophobic feeling of wearing an old-fashioned pearl diver’s helmet or find out what they weigh - in abalone.
The Minister said the Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre would increase visitors’ understanding of the State’s aquatic systems by leading them along the Leeuwin Current - one of the world’s major ocean currents.
The journey takes in tropical rivers and mangroves, Ningaloo Reef and the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, before plunging between the pylons below Busselton Jetty and further south into chilly waters of the Southern Ocean.
“Visitors will learn about what fishing and fisheries mean to the culture, lifestyle, economy, history and sense of place of Western Australians; the aquatic ecology and biology of WA’s remarkable Indian Ocean coastline from the continental shelf to coastal estuaries; and the outstanding science behind the management of fisheries in WA,” Mr Ford said.
In addition to the main hall, a visit to the discovery centre provides an opportunity to view in the foyer public art works of marine life created by internationally recognised marine artists Roger Swainston and Pascal Leclerq.
Visitors can also see research scientists at work in four laboratories through public viewing windows and examine live exhibits of WA fish and crustaceans in several indoor aquariums.
Minister's office - 9213 7200