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Marine Institute Launches New Resources to Promote Ireland's Marine Biodiversity in Primary Schools

14th February 2024
Explorers Sharks +  schools outreach module and resources launched by shark enthusiasts Cerys and Hugo Johnston with lead author Cushla Dromgool Regan (Explorers Education Programme) and shark expert Graham Johnston (Marine Institute)
Explorers Sharks + schools outreach module and resources launched by shark enthusiasts Cerys and Hugo Johnston with lead author Cushla Dromgool Regan (Explorers Education Programme) and shark expert Graham Johnston (Marine Institute) Credit: Andrew Downes

The Marine Institute Explorers Education Programme team has launched a new set of resources for primary schools, aimed at promoting Ireland’s rich marine biodiversity in the classroom. The new class projects, called Fin-tastic Sharks+, will focus on the 71 species of sharks, skates, and rays that can be found in Irish waters. 

Cushla Dromgool Regan, Explorers Education Manager and lead author of the resources, said that the team was "delighted to be celebrating the launch of the Explorers Fin-Tastic Sharks+ new online shark resources over Valentines." 

The resources, which are available for free download from explorers.ie, include a range of cross-curricular activities that teachers and children can use to explore different shark themes in class or on the seashore. The content covers everything from STEM activities to design and communication projects, and is suitable for children of all ages. 

Patricia Orme, Corporate Services Director at the Marine Institute, congratulated the Explorers team on creating new materials to promote Ireland's marine biodiversity in primary schools. "Primary school teachers and children around the coast love learning about sharks and their relatives," she said. "It is always a favourite topic to cover with children, teachers and our outreach teams, who visit the classes of over 13,000 children annually."

The resources include a new Explorers mermaid’s purse key that is suitable for children to use in the classroom and on the shore. The key covers the top ten shark and skate cases typically found on the shores around Ireland, and provides lots of extra shark and skate information to encourage children to become citizen scientists, recording their egg case finds online.

The launch of the new resources comes at a time when the Marine Institute's fisheries scientific team has recorded two baby white skates during the annual groundfish survey while on the RV Celtic Explorer. This was an extremely rare find, as the white skate is listed as Critically Endangered. Of the 58 cartilaginous shark, skate and ray species researched in Irish waters, over 60 percent of them are listed as a Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered.

Ms Dromgool-Regan explained that sharing positive stories about sharks, skates and rays can help people understand the importance of having these species in Irish waters. "This helps us all get involved in better managing and protecting our marine resource now and for the future," she said.

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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