Experiencing Marine Reserves is a national organisation that empowers schools and communities by providing the equipment and expertise for a hands-on learning experience in the ocean. The programme involves investigating marine biodiversity and local marine environments before venturing into 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 Otago branch was set up in 2013 and is coordinated by Andrew Penniket. Otago does not yet have a marine reserve and Andrew’s wish is that Otago children will encounter marine life like he did growing up close to New Zealand’s first marine reserve. The rich marine life at Leigh spurred him on to study marine science and to go on to become a film maker.
As well as being an internationally acclaimed underwater cameraman, wildlife film maker and conservationist, Andrew is a champion for accessible marine reserves in Otago. Through two decades of filming in marine environments all over the globe Andrew knows what is required to have a successful marine reserve. He has campaigned for Otago to have a reserve that is accessible and covers a larger area than is being proposed at the moment.
The waters around Otago are cool and wetsuits and good equipment are essential if people are to enjoy the snorkelling experience. The national organisation EMR and their sponsors have helped to provide some necessary equipment, but to win the Seaweek Ocean Champion prize would certainly help to get more people in the water!
Experiencing Marine Reserves – Otago is preparing for the future when Otago will have its own marine reserve where schools and children of all ages can experience abundant marine life face to face.
Nominated by Tessa Mills, NZ Marine Studies Centre on Wednesday 25 January 2017
Note: NZAEE Seaweek is not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the person nominating the Ocean Champion nominee.