The Origins of Seaweek

Seaweek is a long-standing marine awareness program that was originally created by the Marine Education Society of Australasia (MESA) in 1987. Between 1984 and 2015 MESA was an effective organisation representing and supporting marine educators in both Australia and New Zealand. In 2015 MESA then took the strategic step of uniting with the Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE). In effect, MESA has now morphed into the AAEE group called the Australian Marine Education Network and this group is now maintaining the Seaweek tradition in Australia.

Before moving on to current Seaweeks it is worth looking back 30 years to explore the origins of Seaweek. In 1987 Julie Swartz and Pauline Halpin originally came-up with the concept of Seaweek. Julie recalls those days below:

Reaching back through the mists of time, I think the idea for Seaweek was born at a Victorian MESA conference at Tooradin in 1986. John Tomkin, Vic MESA president at the time had recently returned from an exchange in the US with lots of ideas and ‘Yankie’ know-how, including a concept for a national week of sea celebrations. In the early days of MESA, one of our greatest challenges was to get the marine environment onto the agenda, into the public psyche, onto school curricula, we set out to ‘marinate’ everything. We also felt a need to celebrate, rather than commiserate, promoting positive messages that would ‘turn people on’ to the sea. A national awareness promotion such as Seaweek seemed to fit the bill. It took the creative energy and dedication of marine educator Pauline Halpin at the Marine Discovery Centre in Queenscliff to get things started. Seaweek began as a local event, using crab surveys and an art competition to familiarise communities and schools with coastal habitats in their areas. With Pauline’s sheer enthusiasm, the idea quickly spread around the states and we were inundated with artwork from all over the country. Seaweek had become a national event. And so it began . . .

Next: Seaweeks 1987 to 2014