For the past two years I have been teaching schoolchildren in Mar del Plata (Argentina) about albatrosses and petrels. I am always touched by the enthusiasm and astonishment in the faces of the girls and boys who participate in these learning activities, no matter how old they are.
At one point I ask them to close their eyes. This is one of my favourite moments. While they have their eyes closed, I take out a life-sized black-browed albatross stuffed toy from my bag and spread its wings. Then, I tell them to open their eyes. For a moment there is total silence. And then an explosion! They laugh and start asking questions. Are they really that big? How far do they fly? How long do they live? It is difficult for them to imagine a bird like this, which spends most of its life out at sea.
I answer their questions and tell them about where these birds go, what they feed on and the risks that they face out at sea. Many of the children I meet have relatives working on fishing vessels in the port of Mar del Plata. Some already know about seabirds, others do not. But without doubt, few know that it is within our reach to save these amazing birds from extinction.
That is exactly what my job is about! Telling the future generation about what they can do to save the albatrosses and petrels. For me, this is a unique opportunity to share the love I feel for nature and, especially, for the sea. After the workshop, I show the children the resources that are available to them at their school library and encourage them to read more about the seabirds that are found in Argentina. Since 2016, more than 2000 children from Mar del Plata and Miramar have taken part in our educational outreach activities relating to seabird conservation.
It is so gratifying to know that we are all doing what we can to keep these wonderful seabirds alive, whether it be through working with fishermen on-board vessels or with children in classroom or at a science fair. As I always tell the kids: we can all save the seabirds!
By Mikaela Vouilloz / Educational Outreach Officer – ATF Argentina
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