Educational Field Trips

One-Day and Two-Day Educational Field Trips with Dr Tafe’s Safaris                   beach_bird-study-tour


Each student is provided with a field note book, which contains instructions for up to five different studies, with spaces for answers and labeled sketches. Four of those studies are carried out in the Field and One in the Laboratory, using low power dissecting microscopes. 

The booklets are assessed and graded after the field trip by the class teacher.  Students are responsible for their own change of clothes and shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, hat and sunglasses.  There are four day time studies, each supervised by an accompanying biologist, and the delux trip also has a night time zooplankton study, which is conducted in a laboratory or cabin equipped with microscopes.


The Mangrove Study is conducted preferably at low tide in a pristine mangrove area, which exhibits at least two species of Australian mangroves.

The students work in groups of 5 or 6 and are equipped with field trip booklets, pens, salinometers, thermometers and mangrove identification guides.  Students identify the two main species of mangroves using pictures and a dichotomous key.  They note the distinguishing characteristics of each mangrove species.

They observe the intertidal zone where mangroves are found and discuss the distinctive features of mangroves, which enable them to grow in places where no other plants can survive.  Mangroves typically have a rich diversity of marine life, which the students observe and record.


The Rocky Shore Study is conducted preferably at low tide on a rock platform.

There is a huge variety of plant and animal species so each group of 5 or 6 students is supplied with an illustrated identification guide.  They are also equipped with a 50m measuring tape to assist in conducting a transect of the rock platform.  They have thermometers to measure surface water temperature and salinometers to measure salinity of the sea and the selected rock pool.

They have 1.2m rules to measure height differentials between low and high tide and thermometers to measure water temperature in the rock pools and the open sea.  Each group is required to sketch their own particular transect , noting height above sea level at various points.

One rock pool is sketched separately and the main flora and fauna within the pool are recorded.  Students discuss the terms vertical zonation, biological niche, desiccation, community, mean low tide, mean high tide and littoral zone.  Finally students construct a food-web involving the species of marine life they encounter in the rock pool.


The Sand Dune Study is conducted in a sand dune area which exhibits a succession of vegetation, from Pig Face and Goat’s Foot above the high tide mark to deep rooted plants, such as Casuarinas and Banksias, beyond the first sand dune.

The sand dune plant community consists of various species, each suited to particular zones in the dune system and each serving certain functions within these zones.  The study of sand dune systems involves the identification of plant species using coloured ID cards along a transect from the beach to the second dune.

A profile of the dune will be drawn and factors which influence the sort of plants, growing along the transect, will be noted. Some abiotic variables are measured, such as air temperature, soil pH, light intensity, depth of organic matter and plant cover.


The Freshwater Study is conducted at a typical freshwater lake some kilometers from the coastline.

Once again students work in groups of 5 or 6 and are supplied with the necessary equipment to conduct the study.  Items include collecting trays, steel dip nets, thermometers, pH meters, salinity meters, identification guides and measuring tapes.

Students observe and record all the different species of flora and fauna at their study site.  They also measure abiotic variables, such as surface water temperature and salinity, water visibility, substate type, current flow and pH of the water.  Students complete a food chain using the variety of animals and plants at their study site.


The Zooplankton Study is carried out at night in the laboratory, using fresh zooplankton samples caught an hour earlier using a 500 micron mesh zooplankton net.

Students gather in the laboratory where a zooplankton specialist gives an introduction on the zooplankton of the coastal waters.  Students are given the opportunity to assist in the zooplankton collecting process.

For this study students work in pairs using a low power binocular, dissecting microscope.  Species are identified with the aid of identification guides and trained supervisors.  They observe both preserved and living specimens.  Each pair records relative frequency of the various zooplankton groups and then they sketch and name one chosen representative specimen.

Dr Tafe Safaris

Dr Tafe’s Educational Field Trips

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1.   2-Day 5.0 Star Trip has 5 science based activities and large, fully air conditioned coach with         COST

seat belts and professional driver. Overnight is at MBRS and teachers can come on Pre-Trip       =  $335 p.p.

2.   2-Day 4.5 Star Trip has 4 activities and the option of a 5th study if the college can supply its

own microscopes; normal bus and professional driver. Overnight stay & meals are in cabins.      =  $295 p.p.

3.   2-Day 4.0 Star Trip has 4 activities. Overnight stay at holiday camp. Normal bus and

professional driver. Limited zooplankton study at night.                                                             = $270 p.p.

4.   2-Day 4.0 Star Trip has 4 activities. Overnight stay at holiday camp. Mini- bus.

Limited zooplankton study at night.                                                                                           = $250 p.p.

5.   2-Day 4.0 Star Trip has 4 activities.  Overnight stay and meals at holiday camp.

No bus supplied. No zooplankton study at night.                                                                         = $235 p.p.

6.   1-Day Trip 2.0 Star (2 activities) and a large air conditioned coach with seat belts and

prof driver.  Morning tea and lunch provided.  Location mainland or North Stradbroke Is.            =  $150

7.   1-Day Trip  2.0 Star (2 activities) and a normal bus and professional driver. Morning tea

and lunch provided. Location mainland or North Stradbroke Island.                                             = $125

8.   1-Day Trip 2.0 Star (2 activities) and a mini-bus.  Maximum 24 passengers.

No meals provided. Mainland.                                                                                                 =  $110

9.   1/2 Day Trip 1.0 Star (1 activity) and mini bus. No meals provided. Mainland.                       =  $  75


(All trips come with full public liability insurance to $10 million)

1. Freshwater Study – geared to National Science Curriculum

2. Rocky Platform Study – “      “        “            “              “   

3. Sand Dune Study -        “      “        “            “              “        

4. Mangrove Study -          “      “        “            “              “

5. Zooplankton Study in Lab using microscopes -         “

6. Tour of Island including ancient Midden Heaps

7. Supervised Gorge Walk






I have attended several ecology studies with Dr Tafe Safaris and have always found the staff very professional, courteous and highly organised.  They have provided meals, equipment and excellent teaching assistance for the students.  Safety concerns are always paramount. Thankyou Dennis and Leah for providing consistent high quality service to our students and staff.

Chris Watt

Adventure Trip – Fraser Island

We are living in the USA and heard about the beauty of Fraser Island, the biggest sand island in the Southern Hemisphere. We also heard that Dr Tafe is an experienced marine biologist and he is running safaris to Fraser Island and also to North Stradbroke Island closer to Brisbane.  We checked his website at and booked for a 4-day 4WD tour of Fraser Island.  Together we drove up to Tin Can Bay and then took the vehicular ferry across to the southern end of the island.  It was amazing.  We drove along many kilometres of beautiful ocean beach and spent our first night at Central Station in a rain forest area. Then we swam in the crystal clear waters of Lake McKenzie and kayaked in a double kayak with life jackets. We headed north to Eli Creek and then along 30kms of beach to the Maheno Wreck, the Coloured Sands and Indian Head, which is renowned for fishing.  Along the way we saw swarms of Blue Bottles washed up onto the beach and Dr Tafe was able to explain why there were so many at this time.  He had all the first aid gear in case we got stung. We ventured onto Champagne Pools, Blue Lake and the Light House at the northern tip.  This was a real 4-day adventure and because Dr Tafe is an experienced 4WD driver we never became bogged in soft sand. I can recommend the trip, whether you go for 3 or 4 days. Barry and Family.


My sister and I accompanied Dr Tafe on one of his “Nature Lover” trips to North Stradbroke Island.  He picked us up in a mini-bus, along with a number of people of all different ages.  After a really scenic trip across in the ferry we drove in the mini-bus to Point Lookout and enjoyed the half hour Gorge Walk.  We were surprised to see some full grown Eastern Grey Kangaroos on the walk plus a young green turtle in the waters of the gorge.  At one point we looked out to sea from one of the vantage points and saw a pod of about 20 Indo Pacific Dolphins riding the waves.  We then drove to Brown Lake, where we had a BBQ lunch and observed a couple of 1.5 m goannas.  After lunch we had fun doing a freshwater study in the natural habitat, using scientific equipment to measure salinity, temperature and Ph of the water. Before heading back to the mainland on the ferry we checked out the mangrove area at Myora Springs and measured salinity once again.   It was an enjoyable day for all of us.  Rhonda and Rita


I have had Dr Tafe for tutoring in senior maths for almost 3 years and now I’m in Year 12.  I go to a very good private college but sometimes the teacher is so busy with the other students that she cannot answer all my questions.  I like to have someone who can explain the methods and techniques so that I can come up with the correct answers without struggling.  Dr Tafe is able to put maths into simple terms and he explains every step without jumping steps.  This is what I need and while my maths ability is fairly good it is difficult to get individual help from the teacher because she has so many other students.  I think that with the help of my tutor I will come up with good grades in year 12 and be ready for tertiary studies.   Kathy.


I was really worried doing senior maths because I had failed one maths exam already and was in danger of having to repeat the subject.   I found Dr Tafe’s Maths and Science Tutoring through an advert in the local paper and called him on 3207 8327.  The first tutoring session was really good because he was able to explain complicated maths in a way that was easy to understand.  I then took a block of four 1-hour tutorials and revised everything we did afterwards.  I passed maths completely so I don’t have to repeat it, which is great.  The teacher had missed steps and Dr Tafe was able to fill in the gaps.  Thanks, Sarah. 


I was lucky to find Dr Tafe’s Tutoring just two weeks before my first term maths and science exams in year 12.

He helped me with senior maths and later with senior chemistry.  I managed to pass all my exams with good grades and some of the exam questions were almost identical to the ones we did together.  He teaches a 5-step method in maths, which makes it easy to do maths problems.  I found that chemistry was almost like doing a new language so I needed a tutor to explain what the teachers at school just expect you to know.  It makes it much easier.  Renee 


I was really panicking because the due date for my Job Application was only  three days away and I didn’t even have a professional looking resume.  I contacted Dr Tafe on 1300 99 49 75 and within three days I had a professional looking resume free of spelling and grammatical errors, a 1-page cover letter and a 3-page job application with all criteria fully addressed. I saved some money by having a go at the selection criteria myself and Dr Tafe’s team made sure it was error free.  What a relief.  I am hoping to score an interview.



THE  WHALING  ISSUE  by Dr Dennis Tafe

Two countries are currently involved in whaling for commercial purposes and they are Japan and Norway.  Japan has drawn the most criticism from countries such as USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France and the UK because it continues to conduct annual whale hunts into the Antarctic region despite the protestations of other countries.

As a marine biologist I would like to consider the facts of the whaling issue and consider the implications for the many species of whales.  First of all whales are comprised of two main groups, the baleen whales and the toothed whales.

Baleen Whales include Minkes, Right Whales, Humpbacks, Blue Whales (largest mammal alive today), Fin Whales, Sei Whales and a number of others.

Toothed whales include Sperm Whales and Killer Whales (Orcas).  Dolphins and porpoises are also in the Family Cetacea and they have teeth like Killer Whales, though these mammals are smaller in size.

So the question arises – Are whales, as a species, endangered?  First of all whales and their cousins, the Orcas, dolphins and porpoises comprise about 80 different species. Some, such as the Blue Whale and Sei Whale, are endangered but we are not sure how many there are because it is so difficult to count them.  Recent estimates of Blue Whales suggest their number worldwide is between 3,000 and 5,000.  One hundred and fifty years ago there may have been as many as 200,000 so we really do need to protect them.  They are on the world endangered list and it is illegal to kill them.

Australia was involved in whaling not so long ago.  In Moreton Bay you can still see the remnants of a Whaling Station at Tangalooma, which operated as a fully operational whaling station between 1952 and 1962, killing 6,277 Humpback Whales and one Blue Whale before the Station was closed down in 1962 because it was no longer economic to hunt whales.  It has been estimated by researchers at Sydney University that during that 10 year period of operation the population of Humpbacks migrating along the Eastern Coastline of Australia was reduced from approximately 10,000 to about 200.  The International Whaling Commission then placed a ban on whaling and the numbers of Humpbacks migrating along the Eastern coastline between June and October slowly returned to appreciable numbers and today it is estimated that the population has increased to at least 2,000.  Whaling for Humpbacks and Right Whales was also carried out in the region of Fremantle WA, right up till 1982, when it stopped during the moratorium on whaling.

Japan has been a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) but continued to take Minke Whales in reduced numbers right up till the present day, saying it was for scientific purposes.  There is no doubt that Japanese scientists did obtain scientific data from the whale kills but many western nations claimed that they did not have to kill the animals to collect scientific data. There is also no doubt that the Japanese Whaling Association had a second reason for whaling and that was to store the whale meat for human consumption. They argued that Japan had a history as a whaling nation and therefore they should be able to continue their tradition.  In actual fact the species of whale that the Japanese are harvesting is not endangered and that is the Minke Whale. However countries such as France, Australia and New Zealand argue that the Antarctic should be a whaling free zone.  Minkes are also plentiful in the Sea of Japan so successive Australian Governments have argued that Japan should not be whaling in this zone, which has been declared a Sanctuary Zone by France.  Most western nations would like to see all whaling excluded from the sensitive Antarctic zone.  Australia has resorted to a legal representation to The Hague, claiming the Japan is hunting whales for commercial rather than scientific purposes.

The Legal action initiated by Australia four years ago has just had a resolution in The Hague.  The so called “Scientific Whaling” declared by Japan in 1987 following the whaling moratorium by the International Whaling Commission, has now officially been classified as commercial whaling because there is no doubt that the Japanese Whaling Association cut up and stored the whale meat for human consumption.  Japan has now agreed to abide by that decision and stop killing whales in the Antarctic, much to the relief of most of the western world.  They may still hunt whales in the Northern Pacific Ocean according to a Japanese spokesman but they realise that the annual hunt for up to 1000 Minke Whales in the Antarctic region has adversely affected Japan’s international reputation.

There has been another disturbing development in recent years and that is the proposal by the US Navy to employ high powered underwater sonar equipment for surveillance purposes.  They admit that the use of such sonar surveillance would kill up to 1000 marine mammals in the vicinity, including whales and dolphins.  Some people in California have banded together to prevent the use of sonar off the west Californian coast but the US Navy is still seeking government approval to use such a system.  The actor, Pierce Brosnan, has rallied many Americans against such a move. He claims that a deaf whale is a dead whale and he is right.   Let’s hope that the US Navy will respond to common sense.

Dr Dennis Tafe


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