Thousands of primary school children in the Semporna area benefitted from a visit by the unique Semporna Coral Seas Roadshow, learning things they never knew about Sabah’s amazing marine life.
The Semporna Coral Seas Roadshow has been adapted and developed from the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Cool Seas Roadshow, which has been running since 2006 and has reached over 100,000 children in the UK. MCS is currently working with Sabah Parks on the Semporna Islands Darwin Project (SIDP), which is raising awareness about the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, near to Semporna.
En. Abdul Raof Bin Muhammad Nor, Head Teacher at SK. Gelam-Gelam in Pulau Bum-Bum, Semporna, was full of praise for the Roadshow. “This is a fantastic initiative and is engaging the children in a fun and informative way whilst raising awareness about the importance of the wonderful marine wildlife found in Sabah and the world’s oceans. The Roadshow activities greatly add to the students’ knowledge in subjects such as Science and Moral Studies”.
Life-size models of marine creatures and interactive activities made the Semporna Coral Seas Roadshow full of interest for local children. Fazrullah Rizally Abdul Razak, Manager of Tun Sakaran Marine Park said “Sabah Parks is glad to be part of this initiative. The Roadshow is helping children learn about coral reefs and their local Marine Park as well as introducing them to some of the threats to the environment such as litter, over-fishing, fish bombing and turtle egg collecting.”
The roadshow team from Sabah Parks, and the Semporna Islands Darwin Project, are also initiating dialogue with teachers to see how best to set up permanent links with schools, and discuss ideas for the establishment of ‘Coral Reef Clubs’ in local schools.
The Semporna Coral Seas Roadshow ran for 3 weeks, visiting 25 primary schools as well as communities in the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, and making a special presentation for the public at the Semporna Library. Audiences were entertained and informed by a DVD, plus an interactive presentation by Andy Starbuck who has brought his life-size models of sharks, turtles and a dolphin all the way from the UK.
The children then broke into smaller groups and enjoyed supervised activities such as ‘Build Your Own Reef’, jigsaw puzzles, sticker books and a colouring competition with the theme of marine life and conservation. Norida Salimeu, Community Officer for the Semporna Islands Darwin Project under Sabah Parks, spoke for the whole roadshow team when she said “Children love the models and the activities and it’s making them think differently about the sea and its marine life – we want to change attitudes and make the younger generation really appreciate the incredible marine environment in their backyard”
Scubazoo were happy to donate images for the interactive games and also offer year round assistance by giving free office space to SIDP Sabah Coordinator Helen Brunt. UK sales of Scubazoo’s coffee table book reef directly benefit the Marine Consevation Society.
The roadshow ran from Monday 18th January – Friday 5th February 2010. It is hoped that it will be possible to repeat this travelling roadshow later in the year so that more children can benefit.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is a UK-based non-governmental organisation (NGO). Its mission is to protect the marine and coastal environment for wildlife and future generations.
The Semporna Islands Darwin Project (SIDP) is a ongoing programme being run by the Marine Conservation Society and Sabah Parks and funded by the Darwin Initiative – a UK grant scheme that helps countries look after their biodiversity. The aim of SIDP is to protect the outstanding natural features and biodiversity of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park while promoting sustainable use of natural resources, economic development and traditional culture.
The Tun Sakaran Marine Park, under the management of Sabah Parks, was gazetted in July 2004 and is Sabah’s largest marine park, covering 340km2 of sea and coral reefs, 10km2 of land and 8 islands.