Contributed by Maria: For the last couple of months I have been working as a Marine Educator on a wonderful marine education project in the Seychelles. The project is run by WiseOceans and funded by the Save our Seas Foundation.
I honestly feel very lucky to be part of the project; the sea is my passion and working on this project in a country like Seychelles is a dream come true for me. I really believe we need to work hard to protect our seas, to help them get the balance and sustainability they are loosing.
Before coming to the Seychelles I was working in other areas of marine biology, mostly in fishing control, but I have always felt strongly about education and the importance of raising awareness and getting people involved in order to make a positive impact. After only a few months I have already been able to see how important this project is and how it helps raise awareness in the communities where the project is run. We have many different activities, which mainly consist of marine talks and fun and games, be it marine related songs for children or quiz like contests for adults. The project is already a big part of the community and we regularly visit schools all around the whole country giving talks to different age groups, as well as running teacher trainings for the staff.
These talks are brilliant! Everyone has a great time and seeing how the kids discover new things and their reactions to the amazingcreatures living in the sea is very rewarding. From the little surprised faces of the 5 year olds, discovering for the first time animals like the manta ray or the Dugong, and how they look like; to the interested faces of the secondary school students realizing that coral is a very complex animal, very fragile, so important for the Oceans and that it needs our help, or that the sharks are not those scary creatures they may see in the movies.
Once a month on Saturdays we run an activity at the Natural History Museum where kids from different schools join us to have fun while they are learning. We have activities such as colouring, puzzles, making papier mâché turtles or sea animal headbands. Through these activities we have the opportunity to chat to the children about the marine life and the importance of marine conservation. As I’ve said before the project is a big part of the community so we try and participate in all marine related things. The Seychelles has a marine conservation festival, SUBIOS, where we join other NGOs and set up a stand with information and craft activities to have with kids.
Our work also involves reaching out to those people who are very much involved with the sea. A few weeks ago we did a great fun talk with the staff at Dive centre; Dive Resorts Seychelles. These moments are amazing, because we all end up chatting about the marine life, about how the sea is changing, what we can do, what we should or should not do, and how to make the difference.
Besides our work with the local community and schools we also run an activity once a week, at the Kempinski resort. I give a talk about some of the incredible creatures of the sea; like turtles, sharks or the main fish families that live in the Seychelles waters. I really enjoy my time at the Kempinski, interacting with people who may not know that much about the marine life but show so much interest and enthusiasm to learn and participate in the talks. I love how they get very interested in some amazing facts like the great migration of the turtles, or get very worried with others like the coral is dying. The best part of the day is definitely the snorkelling! After the main talk with the guests we have a pre-snorkel briefing before going into the water. The guests thoroughly enjoy the snorkel and being able to identify some of the fish from our previous talk and briefing; and seeing amazing creatures they never saw before.
So, I truly think through this project, through all these activities we are making a positive impact in the community, raising awareness about our seas, and about looking after them.