On the 1st of June, Reef Support had the incredible opportunity to be invited by the French Primary School of Den Haag (Lycée Français Vincent Van Gogh) to present the factors contributing to the demise of coral reefs around the world.The purpose of this visit was to explain to over 250 students (a total of 11 classes), between the ages of 3 and 9 years old, the current health of our coral reefs and its implications for our planet. While pitching to such a young crowd was a new challenge, Yohan Runhaar (CTO at Reef Support) and Maelle Picout (Marketing Director at Reef Support) enjoyed teaching them about coral reefs and how sensitive they are to environmental changes.
During the presentations, attention was called to several important aspects of our marine ecosystems, namely the importance of coral reefs, the process of coral bleaching, the dangers they are currently facing such as unethical fishing methods, tourism and global warming, as well as the impact and solutions to slow down the destruction of corals and enhance their reproduction. In some classes, we explained the concept of artificial intelligence and how useful satellite data is for our work at Reef Support. We were surprised to see that these concepts were not as difficult for the children to grasp as we had expected, which made the pitch even more exciting for us.
The students were fascinated by the information we provided them and asked several interesting questions. It was truly heartwarming to see how involved the children were during the presentation and how much this topic touched them.Indeed, while some children celebrated our presence by dressing up with marine themed tshirts, others told us about their dream to become divers, scientists and engineers to help save our oceans. One student particularly caught our attention by affirming that when he’d grow up he would strongly advocate for electric cars all around the world, as according to him ‘ the cars we drive today pollute way too much and destroy our entire ecosystems’.
At the end of each presentation, we discussed the small gestures the students could themselves do everyday to live more sustainably, such as decreasing their use of straws, cutlery and bottles made out of plastic, participating in beach cleanups, reducing their carbon emissions by using sustainable means of transportation such as the bike, as well as supporting organizations like Reef Restoration Foundation and Indonesia Biru Foundation by adopting their own coral. Needless to say that at the end of the day most of the students were eager to go home and adopt one of these beautiful creatures.
Overall, this experience was a great success for Reef Support. We truly hope to be able to educate more children in the future on the vital importance of coral reefs for the preservation of life underwater. We, at Reef Support believe that reaching out to children on such alarming issues is crucial, as ‘our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation.They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth who care for and protect our people’ (Nelson Mandela, 1995).
Written by Maëlle Picout - 07/06/2021