Ella Coward, Emma Molle and Brianna Coward will experince what its like to be a marine biologist for a day as part of an Ocean Life Education initiative.
Ella Coward, Emma Molle and Brianna Coward will experince what its like to be a marine biologist for a day as part of an Ocean Life Education initiative. John McCutcheon

Marine biologist for a day

A SCHOOL holiday program challenging youngsters to be marine biologists for a day will be held in Mudjimba this month.

The Ocean Life Education event at North Shore Community Centre on September 24 is for high school students and will cover the biology of a range of marine animals.

Buderim resident Imogen, 12, took part earlier this year in the program, which busts myths about sharks and teaches fun facts about sea animals and the ocean environment.

"It was fun, we learned about all these different animals and got to touch them,” she said.

"I went because I like marine biology. I found it really interesting and wanted to learn about that kind of stuff.”

Imogen's mum Amanda Chippendale said she felt lucky to have Richard Coward and the Ocean Life Education team as locals, offering their expertise to youngsters.

"She came home really excited - Imogen's always had a bit of an interest in animals and would like to be a vet, so that was right up her alley,” she said.

"Richard's knowledge is just phenomenal.

"When we go to the beach now my kids will actually pick up rubbish, whereas before they'd go past it.”

Mr Coward said Ocean Life Education had first begun the event after parents asked whether anything was available during school holidays.

"It was pretty popular even early on,” he said.

While the program had initially been for primary school-aged children, the upcoming event is for students in Years 7-12.

The program covers the biology of a range of marine his business keeps in tanks, such as star fish and sea cucumbers, and the role of these animals in the ecosystem.

It also delves into areas the children are interested in, establishing early in the day the level of knowledge and special interests within the group.

The problems humans create for the natural environment are a focus, with children encouraged to explore opportunities they have to make a positive impact and share their knowledge with others.

Sharks were always a fascinating topic for teens and younger children alike, Mr Coward said. He comes armed with facts, props and examples to help kids understand their biology and importance.

"None of them want to eat humans,” he said.

"We explain what their teeth are designed for and we explain why in some instances they come in contact with humans and why they attack humans.”



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