A big part of ORP’s mission is marine education and raising awareness about the need for sea turtle conservation. We like to “catch them young” and we particularly focus on reaching out to school children. Back in November, One & Only Reethi Rah and ORP invited Immaduddin School to take part in a new Marine Education Programme. 16 students between 8 and 15 years old visited the island and the new Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. The visit was arranged in order to both raise awareness about sea turtle conservation and to support World Autism Awareness month; both autistic and neurotypical children attended.
Meeting Turtle Patient Azura
On the day of the visit, we first introduced the school children to Azura, our resident turtle patient. They learned about the negative impacts of ghost nets on sea turtles and heard Azura’s story. Azura was found entangled in ghost nets and sadly lost her flipper as a result. We also explained to the children about Azura’s buoyancy syndrome, which inhibits her ability to dive. Azura has made great progress since she arrived first at our Marine Turtle Rescue Centre in Baa Atoll and later at the See Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at One & Only. We hope to one day release her back into the wild.
The children greatly enjoyed taking part in a feeding session with Azura before heading over to the staff restaurant for lunch and to learn more about marine life conservation.
Marine Life Quiz With A Turtle Prize
In the following session, Sea Turtle Biologist, Laura, and One & Only Marine Biologist, Bekki, focused on the importance of conserving marine life. They spoke about what everyone can do to help and how each and every one of us can contribute, irrespective of age. Laura and Bekki also spoke about the anthropogenic (human activity) and natural threats sea turtles face.
At the end of the session, everyone took part in a quiz. Three teams competed against each other for the chance to name one of our identified wild turtles. The winning team, called ‘Shark Fin’, named the turtle ‘Zathura’.
Snorkeling Safari With Wild Turtles
To finish the day, the team invited all the children to snorkel on the One & Only house reef. For some, it was their first time ever snorkeling – or being in the water! This was a very special experience and the children were able to see the natural beauty of the ocean. We were also very fortunate to spot one of our resident turtles, although it was not the newly named Zathura.
All the children had a good time and many were asking to do it again! To thank the children and staff for visiting and taking part in the Marine Education Program, we awarded everyone with a certificate, a One & Only goodie bag, and a locally made knitted ‘Pepper Dots’ turtle with the autism symbol.
We are looking forward to future visits from more students to continue our Marine Life Education Program in partnership with One & Only Reethi Rah.
Photos used with permission.