Marine Ecology

Learn to understand marine environments from coasts and reefs to open seas and ocean depths. Study marine ecology and how the living and non living components of seas and oceans fit together.

Course Code: BEN304
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn about Marine Environments and Sea Life

  • Shorelines, Estuaries, Open seas, ocean depths
  • How the living and non living components fit together and relate to each other
  • How to better manage these marine environments to be sustainable and stable in the long term

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Marine Ecology
    • Introduction
    • Different Marine Ecosystems
    • Coral Reefs
    • Types of Coral Reef - fringing reefs, atolls, barrier reefs
    • Purpose of a Coral Reef
    • Rocky Shore
    • Kelp Forest
    • Seagrass meadow
    • Mangrove
    • Estuary
    • Salt Marsh
    • Tundras
    • Open Ocean
    • Deep Ocean
  2. Biodiversity of Marine Environments
    • Measuring Biodiversity
    • Why Biodiversity Matters - species richness, genetic diversity
    • Marine Protists and Plant Life
    • Bony Fish
    • Sharks and Rays
    • Whales
    • Microscopic Invertebrates
    • Worms and Worm Like Animals
    • Corals and their Relatives
    • Molluscs and Echinoderms
    • Microbe - bacteria, fungi, marine viruses
    • Microbial Loop
    • Carbon Cycling and Dissolved Organic Carbon
    • Biodiversity in a Reef
    • Food Webs
    • Declining Biodiversity
  3. Environmental Factors of Marine Environments
    • Introduction
    • Types of Water - sea, fresh, brackish
    • Oceanography
    • Oceanic circulation
    • Longitudinal Circulation
    • Southern Oscillation (El Nino, La Nina Effect)
    • Ocean Gyres
    • Ocean Zones
    • Pelagic Zone
    • Abiotic Factors - light, temperature, salinity, density, dissolved gases
    • Climate
  4. Climate Change & Other Anthropogenic Pressures
    • How humans create Biodiversity Threats
    • Agricultural Runoff (into estuaries)
    • Fresh water Pollutants - sediments, agricultural chemicals, other
    • Salinity Changes
    • Oil Spills
    • Disturbed Food Chains
    • Overfishing
    • Climate Change
    • Ocean Warming and Sea Levels
    • Ocean Acidification
    • Testing pH
    • Coral Bleaching
  5. Restoration of Natural Marine Ecosystems
    • Microplastics
    • Ecotoxicology
    • Eutrophication
    • Erosion
    • Flood Prevention
    • Restoring Coral Reefs
    • Coral Reef Threats- agricultural runoff, seaweed/kelp, sand, sunscreen, climate change, predators.
    • Restoration through Coral Transplantation
    • Restoration through Micro fragmentation
    • Coral Nurseries
    • Planting out Corals and Substrates
    • Regeneration using Natural Reed Beds to Purify Waste Water
  6. Managing Threatened Species (Practical and Regulatory Approaches)
    • Introduction to Invasive Species
    • Managing Invasive Species
    • Population Surveys and Monitoring
    • Census of Marine Life
    • Managing a Threatened Species via Conservation Practices
    • Conservation of Threatened Species
    • Where to Start
    • Conservation of Habitat
    • Ecological Gap Analysis
    • Reference Sites
    • Breeding Programs
    • Keystone Species
    • Predators
    • Ecosystem Engineers
    • Mutualists
    • Intervention Types - Regulation
    • Case Study
  7. Managing Fisheries in Marine Ecosystems
    • Introduction
    • Case Study - Overfishing Orange Roughy
    • Stock Identity
    • Stock Assessment
    • Stock Biomass
    • Stock Management Methods
    • General Techniques for Managing Fisheries - habitat restoration/closure, seasonal closure, closed waters, protected Statius, Limits, Catch Quotas, Fishing methods. Licences/Permits, Education Programs, Aquaculture
    • Responding to human Food Needs
    • Aquaculture/ Mariculture
    • Extensive Production Mariculture
    • Intensive Production Mariculture
    • Classification of Systems
    • Disease Management for Fisheries
  8. Marine Resources and Sustainability
    • What is a Marine Protected Area
    • How are MPA's Used
    • The AICHI Biodiversity Targets
    • Marine Protected Area Agency Partnership
    • International Guidelines for Designating and Managing MPA's
    • Designating an MPA
    • Field Work
    • Analysis of Existing Resources
    • Conservation and Monitoring of MPAs
    • Working Outside Marine Protected Areas
    • Sustainable Development
    • Preserving Environments
    • Pollution Prevention
  9. Technology
    • Introduction
    • Platforms in Oceanography
    • Ocean Robots and ROV's
    • Satellites
    • Biodiversity
    • Other Devices
    • Digital Photography
    • High Tech Tagging
    • Biotech - DNA Barcoding and Phylogenetic Analysis
    • Microarray
    • SNP array
    • Removal of Ocean Debris and Human Waste
    • Broad Considerations in Marine Research
  10. Data in Marine Management
    • Introduction
    • Ethics in Data
    • Principles of Measurement
    • Variables
    • Measurement Scales
    • Measurement Error
    • Bias and Consistency
    • Making Observations
    • Developing skills in observation
    • Samples and Sampling
    • Choosing a basic method of sampling
    • Using Statistics to Analyse Probability
    • Probability Parameters
    • P-Values
    • Statistics show Relationship
    • Knowing what to Ask about Data - Question types

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss marine environments and ecology in broad and general terms.
  • Describe biodiversity and interrelationships in different marine environments.
  • Determine the significance of, and interplay between, environmental factors in marine environments.
  • Explain the impact of climate change and other anthropogenic pressures, and measures needed to mitigate these impacts.
  • Determine ways of restoring damaged marine environments
  • Explain the management of threatened marine species.
  • Describe how marine experts work to manage and maintain ecological homeostasis.
  • Describe marine resources and explain how sustainability initiatives are implemented.
  • Apply different technologies for improved management of marine environments.
  • Explain issues of data management and develop critical knowledge of how digitalisation is integrated into marine management.

What are Marine Ecosystems?

Marine ecosystems are communities that include both living and nonliving things in marine locations.
They are geographically divided into five main areas - the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Southern (Antarctic) Oceans. Throughout these geographical areas, you can find a wide range of diverse aquatic ecosystems such as reefs, estuaries, salt marshes, rocky shores, kelp forests, seagrass meadows, tundras,  open oceans and deep oceans, 

Marine life extends both above the ocean as much as below. Many birds for example are active members of marine ecosystems, both in the wider ocean (e.g., the albatross, penguins) and coastal waters. 


Who is this Course for?

  • Boat owners, divers, fishermen, anyone working in marine industries
  • Environmental professionals
  • Conservationists, coastal dwellers
  • Biologists, scientists, environmental researchers, climate professionals
  • Students, teachers, media professionals or anyone else with an interest or passion for this subject.


Why this Course?

  • Professional development 
  • A foundation in a subject you need or want to learn about.
  • It's your passion
  • Knowing more ways to protect the environment
  • Improving your career / work prospects

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

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We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

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Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
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