Above: Children from the Marine school holiday program with their artwork made from trash
This month community outreach and youth education was at the forefront of the centre! Naifaru children learnt about their local marine environment, its importance and the threats it is currently facing. Over the four weeks they developed a passion and interest in conservation - particularly sea turtle conservation! New posters made by the children were displayed in town encouraging locals to 'bring their own shopping bag' discouraging the use of plastic ones.This youth education led to five hatchlings in the community being surrendered to AMC, which were previously been kept as pets.
Above: Local children getting involved in various activities during the July marine school holiday program.
July Marine School Holiday Program
The month of July was our busiest yet in terms of community outreach and youth education since the global pandemic. Over the course of their school holiday period, a reliable group of approximately 30 children aged 5 - 12 years old have visited the centre up to three times per week. Our marine biologists specifically designed sessions, both engage children whilst educating them of the importance of marine species in the Maldives, as well as raise awareness for large marine issues such as plastic pollution.
During the program children participated in beach clean ups on Turtle Beach. Although a lot of rubbish litters the coastline on Naifaru, the act of cleaning up drew attention to how much. We were pleased to see that some locals ceased their beach activities for a short while to lend a hand to volunteers, staff and children to clean up the section of the beach. Children then engaged in a discussion about how although they may have littered in the past, after seeing how much rubbish was collected in such a short time, that they would endeavour not to do it again.
In an effort to see rubbish as a resource, fish were created and painted out of plastic water bottles found on the beach. Ghost net bracelets were also made out of discarded fishing nets. These activities will hopefully stimulate thoughts regarding reusing what is available. Posters were made with both English and Dhivehi text encouraging Naifaru locals to 'bring their own shopping bag' instead of using a plastic one. These were then handed out to the local shops, with nearly all shop owners on the island agreeing to display the posters in their windows. This activity sparked the thought with both the children who learnt why we should do simple things like avoid plastic bags, as well as with store owners (many who agreed the initiative was well needed, with the devastating amount of plastic bags used daily on Naifaru).
The program also focused on learning about marine species while having fun! One session included children being split up to do mini games targeting learning about the threats that face 4 important species in the Maldives; sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays and clown fish
. Our marine biologists will begin teaching in the local school this term and are excited to see how much more of an impact can be had after the fantastic results from this program!
Above (left): Local grocery store "Tin Kan" proudly displays a poster, Above (right): Proud shop owner of "Sprout" stands in front of the poster now displayed in his shop window
New Staff Alert WELCOME EMMA
Below: Emma lifting Raskan out of her tank so it can be cleaned.
This month we welcomed our newest Marine Biologist Emma. Emma grew up on the east coast of Australia where she was exposed to a variety of marine life. She studied Environmental Science and Management, major in Marine Science. She has worked in South Africa, collecting data on endangered animal and plant species. Emma feels incredibly grateful to be a marine biologist at AMC, spending her time caring for the turtles and having a positive impact on their life fills her heart with joy. She is looking forward to further developing her knowledge and engaging with the community to create lasting change for our beautiful sea turtles.