Nearly a quarter of all children in Great Britain — a whopping 2.28 million — have never been swimming in the ocean, and 35% have never been in a boat on the sea.
That’s according to new research commissioned by the Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow A Boat, to analyse children’s understanding and experiences of the sea.
Survey findings show that almost one in three (27%) UK children aged five to 16 also don’t know that the Earth’s surface is primarily covered by water.
Some 23% of eight to 10 year olds also think that frogs live in the sea, while 31% of those aged five to seven don’t know that seahorses live in the ocean.
Many also struggle to identify famous bodies of water, with almost one in five (18%) only recognising Amazon as an online shop and not the largest river by volume in the world.
Lesley Robinson, chief executive at British Marine, organisers of the Southampton International Boat Show, said: “We’re delighted that the majority of UK children are growing up with experiences and memories of the sea, but it’s interesting that a large proportion have never been on a boat or gone swimming in the ocean.
“While it’s heartwarming to see so many kids believe in mermaids [24% of five to seven year olds] and the Loch Ness Monster [11% of all children], it’s evident that there is a knowledge deficit when it comes to their understanding of the water and sea life.
“At British Marine it is our mission to educate, debunk myths and make getting out on the water as accessible for as many kids as possible.”
The Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow a Boat, takes place at Mayflower Park from Friday 13 September to Sunday 22 September.
More than 10,000 people are expected to get out on the water across the full 10 days of what’s being touted as Britain’s biggest festival of boating — which will include with numerous free activities for children such as paddle boarding, dinghy sailing and mini cruises.