La Gomera, Oktober 2015. On the 7th and 8th of October, 200 pre-schoolers and primary school children of the local school in Borbalán, La Gomera, took part in a very special excursion within their ‘ocean weeks’: For two days, with the support of M.E.E.R., the pupils aged three to twelve had the chance to learn more about the sea and its inhabitants. Coordinated by our biology teacher and M.E.E.R.-biologist Volker Smit, the children were introduced to the life of whales and dolphins in the rooms of our permanent exhibition located close to the harbour. Additionally, marine biologist Volker Boehlke explored the rocky tidal pools together with the children. This gave them the opportunity not only to see many different species living in the coastal zone, but also to touch some of them – if they were brave enough! Amongst the collected animals there were crayfish, a lumpfish, sea cucumbers, various fish species and sea urchins. Our local team got up very early in the morning and collected some animals and even found octopuses, which turned out to be a real highlight for the children. In the end, there was a lot of applause, and also praise by parents and teachers – hence, this action was a great success!
Early education as keystone
Education is one of M.E.E.R.’s keystones – and the young school children of La Gomera are an important target audience for us when it comes to environmental education. Still many of La Gomera’s inhabitants do not know a lot about the local fauna and how to actively support their conservation. To change this situation, it is very important to start with the little ones. If their interest is raised, they often bring their new knowledge into their families and that can inspire their parents and siblings. It is this enthusiasm that marks the first important step for the integration of the local people into the active protection of cetaceans and their habitat. We are more than happy that this project once again gave us the opportunity to maintain good contact with the locals and we could contribute to the sensitization about ocean conservation.