ems logoExperiencing Marine Reserves has been adopted in South Australia and will be called Experiencing Marine Sanctuaries (EMS). The lead EMS coordinator is coming to EMR Northland for training this October/November

Here's an excerpt about EMS from The Reef Watch South Australia newsletter:

"In the last few years Reef Watch SA has run a few snorkel days for the community and they are always over-subscribed with very positive feedback. Snorkelling is a positive and constructive activity that enables people to get immersed and deepen their understanding of species, habitats and protected areas. It provides experiential learning opportunities, increases community stewardship and increases the perceived value of what is being protected.

The new organisation, Experiencing Marine Sanctuaries Inc. (EMS), is based on (with permission) the highly successful New Zealand program ‘Experiencing Marine Reserves’ (EMR). The New Zealand EMR program has run for over 13 years under the leadership of Director, Samara Nicholas, and the concept is now expanding across NZ and overseas. The NZ EMR program empowers schools and communities by providing the equipment and expertise for a hands-on learning experience in the ocean. The program involves investigating marine biodiversity and local marine environments before venturing to a fully protected marine reserve. After this experience, students are able to compare unprotected and protected areas and are supported to put their knowledge into action within the community.

The South Australian EMS program proposes to develop and coordinate an experiential program for schools and community that will seek to achieve better protection of the marine environment through education and advocacy. The program will focus on upper junior and middle years. An important component of EMS’s approach will be to give students and their parents and teachers a safe and professionally supervised ‘hands-on’ experience of the marine environment. Whenever possible this will include experiencing both unprotected marine environments and marine sanctuaries, with particular emphasis on comparing the diversity and abundance of organisms within each environment. Having a ratio of one parent to two students assists with supervision, ensures strong community connection with the project and provides an intergenerational experience.

In future, participants will collect fish abundance and diversity data while participating in a snorkel experience using the Reef Watch Fish Survey method. Snorkelers swim in a straight line for 50 m at a constant depth and speed and record the fish that they observe in a 5 m belt (2.5 m either side). The fish sightings are recorded directly on a waterproof fish slate. EMS and NRM Education will work together to provide teacher professional development (and networking) opportunities, curriculum links and access to existing marine science resources and teaching plans. This will ensure teachers are supported and feel confident to teach marine science in their classroom. EMS will work closely with summer holiday programs, NaturePlay SA and Reef Watch to organise, provide equipment, marine experts and supervision to run community snorkel experiences.

For updates on the EMS program and to get involved in snorkel days subscribe to their Facebook page here or twitter here

For further information contact Carl Charter on +61 466 278 187."