Sometimes an opportunity appears to show people how something works and to try and help them understand. Last week we got to show a group of children aged 7-11 from the Grand Anse Praslin Primary Wildlife Club how the Curieuse mangrove forests work and why they are so important, especially to the Sickle-fin Lemon sharks. The whole day, organised by the Green Islands Foundation, was dedicated to playing many different activities that hopefully gave the kids a new perspective on sharks.
After meet and greats with the kids and their teachers, it was time to go into the mangroves. There the kids saw first hand what mangroves are all about, and learnt about the Curieuse Sickle-fin Lemon shark project, and how we are discovering the role the mangroves play as a nursery ground for this under-studied species. We used our plywood shark pup to show how we ‘work-up’ each shark pup we catch, using all the equipment to measure and weigh it before releasing it again. An interactive ‘PIT-tagging game’ made it easy for the children to understand how, upon recapturing a shark pup, we will know which shark is which and can find out whether or not it has grown.
We had many other games; one to show schooling behavior of fish and strength in numbers, another to explain why shark attacks sometimes occur – because in murky water, the shadow of a human on a surf-board can look like very much like a seal, which some species of shark like to eat. We also played several picture quizzes that taught the children about how shark teeth and fins are adapted for each species.
Like all youngsters, their attention was at times focused on everything but us (after all they were visiting amazing Curieuse!), but I think we got through to them in the end. Some were asking really funny questions, and one girl told us all about a programme she saw on TV about tagging sharks.
Afterwards it was time for a break from learning and some lunch, but the kids couldn’t wait to get back to playing around on the beach and in the sea. When the day was coming to an end and they would soon leave, everyone got together to make a huge seaweed shark in the sand, and take some awesome group photos with everyone involved. A great day of learning and understanding something new!
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