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The children of Mauritius are determined to work together to raise awareness about ocean issues. After a presentation at the International Prepatory School by the crew, students later brought aboard drawings, posters, and petitions they made to share with us - the message focusing on protecting whales.
Photo : Chris Johnson

November 23, 2003
'Learning Lessons from Students'
Real Audio Report

Log Transcript

One of the highlights of the Voyage of the Odyssey is the opportunity to visit schools while in port and to bring children to the boat. The crew gave presentations at several schools earlier in the week, showing footage and images of the whales we saw and filmed in Mauritius waters on our first research leg. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a child's face light up with joy when we are able to show them imagery of their whales - often for the first time.

This week, we were delighted to visit students at the International Prepatory School, Ecole du Nord, Lysee de Mascerene, the 'Center for Learning' and the Northfields School.

During our time together, we discussed the marine mammal species that are known to occur in Mauritius and around the world. We also shared important information on the threats that marine mammals and other ocean creatures face such as pollution and whaling. We feel it is important to leave the children with a sense of empowerment by suggesting a few ways that they can help make a difference.

Later in the week, students from the International Prepatory School and Ecole du Nord, took time out of their busy schedule to visit the Odyssey and the crew in Port Louis harbor.

Mauritian students shared a morning with the crew aboard the RV Odyssey in Port Louis.
Photo : Chris Johnson

The children expressed a grave concern for the long-term health of the world's oceans, while many told the crew of their desire to work together to raise awareness and make a difference in Mauritius.

Listen to the opinions of some of the children of Mauritius about whales and the Voyage of the Odyssey researching in their waters.

    Genevieve Johnson:
    "Adam, can you tell us about your tour on the Odyssey?"

    Students from the International Prepatory School:
    "Oh, it was really fun. I wish one day I could be like you guys. I think it is a really cool job and to discover more about whales is really cool. It's super!"

    "It was fun on the Odyssey. I think that if we kill whales they will become extinct and we can never see a whale again."

    "Well, I think what you are doing is very interesting. I have always wanted to learn about whales."

    "Since I was eight years old, I have had this documentary about the seas called the Blue Planet, and it showed you how to be a marine biologist. I have always wanted to be one so I can join the crew."

    "We made this little thing together [and passed around the school for people to sign] - it says 'whales are cool - can we still save them? - yes or no' And, all the people that we know said 'yes'."

    "Maybe one day we can become crew like you guys and do the same things and we hope that other people can do it as well."

    "We have all been very interested in sea animals, and whales are wonderful animals."

    Students watch video footage of the first research leg in Mauritius - some seeing whales off their island home for the first time.
    Photo : Chris Johnson

    Genevieve Johnson:
    "So, if there is one thing that you could say to people to get them to protect whales - what could they do?"

    Students from the International Prepatory School:
    "By not killing them, we can protect them.., and try to stop making pollution like plastics flow into the ocean."

    "I reckon you should protect whales because they are just like humans and they should be free."

    "They are beautiful creatures and they deserve to live."

    "I think that we really should protect whales for future studies on the whales, because if anybody wants to be a marine biologist like me, they should start protecting whales and protesting."

    "Whales need to live. If we kill whales, there won't be any whales anymore. So it is better to protect them."

    "The whales are so wonderful. You better protect them because they are a very rare species in the world. They are so beautiful."

    "I would like to be part of the Odyssey. I think that it is a very nice place to be, I am going to miss you guys when you go."

    "Thanks for letting come on the Odyssey. Yeah, I had a really great time. So I hope you guys succeed with all the whales. So thanks a lot."

At a presentation at the Northfields School, students examine a piece of baleen from a fin whale and two sperm whale teeth. Odyssey educators use these to demonstrate the difference between toothed and baleen whales.
Photo : Chris Johnson

Genevieve Johnson:

Children are naturally drawn to the wild world, and whales arouse an innate sense of curiosity and awe in them. Children have taught us time and again they want to grow up in a world where ecosystems are healthy so they will continue to have the opportunity to experience encounters with wild creatures. The students we met this week are passionate about their marine environment and are frustrated by those who refuse to take responsibility for protecting it.

It is us, the adults, the decision makers and role models who must set the example by making responsible choices in relation to the environment, ensuring this next generation will inherit a future they can be proud of. Talking to the children of Mauritius and listening to their hopes for the future, reminds us that many of us have a lot to learn from the wisdom of the younger generation.

This is Genevieve Johnson speaking to you from the Odyssey in Mauritius.


Written by Genevieve Johnson.

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