For 10 days between 13th to 24th August, 18 students aged 12-14 attended the first MCSS Academy by the Sea Marine Education Programme; and what a fun filled, action packed 10 days it was! As Project Tutor, I led the students in discovering the marine life around the Seychelles, from their magnificant ‘beach-side classroom’ based at the Dive Seychelles Underwater Centre at the Berjaya Hotel in Beau Vallon.
Through classroom based presentations, activities and outings around the island, students discovered about different habitats and the animals that lived within them. They also learnt about the Save Our Seas five threats to ocean and coastal life and what can be done to reduce these threats.
A particular topic that the students enjoyed learning about was sharks. Over the two weeks students opinions changed of sharks from ‘scary attackers’ to endangered animals that need our help. In groups students researched a different aspect of sharks: How we use sharks, why we need them, threats that they face including shark finning, and what can be done to reduce these threats. The students produced fantastic work and taught the rest of the class what they had learnt through presentations.
Without a doubt the students all loved the daily activity of snorkelling and discovering the different fish and coral. For me, it was a joy to watch the students’ inwater confidence grow throughout the 10 days, from cautious swimmers who had never snorkeled before to fearless duck-diving fish-identifiers, it became a challenge to get them to leave the sea at the end of the day! One snorkel trip that they will never forget came the day before we went on a turtle monitoring trip. In preparation for the trip the students had listened to a presentation on turtles and then went for the daily snorkel. Everyone was ecstatic when the creature they’d just been learning about appeared amongst the corals and in between squeals of delight, they all correctly identified it as a hawksbill turtle!
The following day the students enthusiastically took part in role plays on the beach at the Banyan Tree Hotel, acting as turtles, tourists and conservationists to show how to behave correctly around turtles nesting on the beach.
The final day of the academy was celebrated with a snorkel trip to the Baie Ternay MarineNational Park and awarding the students with their certificates for their hard work over the two weeks. It was a pleasure to teach such an enthusiastic, dedicated group of students and I hope their passion for marine life and conservation continues.