3 September 2018 | Royal Society for the Protection of Birds News Release
An exciting new project has been launched by RSPB Scotland today, giving pupils from Aberdeen the opportunity to learn first-hand about Scotland’s incredible marine life, the threats they face and how they can help protect them.
Thanks to funding from ScottishPower Foundation and the Heritage Lottery Fund, for the first time ever RSPB Scotland’s Dolphinwatch team can offer schools a variety of free classroom and on-site sessions throughout the year. Bookings are now being taking for visits to start in October.
Sadie Gorvett, Dolphinwatch Community Events Officer, who is running the schools’ programme said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for local children to learn first-hand about the amazing bottlenose dolphins and other incredible marine life we can see right on our doorstep here in Aberdeen. After such a successful Dolphinwatch viewing season with 100% sightings of dolphins, porpoises and whales, I am excited to get as many children as possible on site to experience the wonder of seeing these amazing animals.”
Dolphinwatch viewing reached 100% sightings of cetaceans (the umbrella term for dolphins, porpoises and whales), with bottlenose dolphins being seen on all but three days that the team were at Torry Battery between the 10 May and 19 August. On the three “no-dolphin days”, visitors (and the team) were lucky to experience rare encounters with minke whales, harbour porpoises and even a distant humpback whale. As it is possible to see the area’s resident dolphins all year, the team hope to be able to share similar experiences with pupils from across the city and help them to discover how they can take action to protect marine wildlife.
Lucy Casot, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, Scotland said: “Our natural heritage is a most precious resource and, thanks to National Lottery players, HLF grants have helped to protect an amazing range of landscapes, habitats, and species of plants and animals. HLF is delighted to support projects such as Dolphinwatch which has enabled RSPB Scotland to set up a schools’ project to enable local children to learn about the importance of their local area for marine wildlife and generated great excitement in the biodiversity on their doorstep”
Dolphinwatch Schools will incorporate a classroom-based visit linked to the Curriculum for Excellence introducing the students to the array of marine life in Aberdeen and the threats they face, followed by an on-site visit to Torry Battery. While onsite students will take part in a selection of activities which could include; dolphin watching, beach art, rock pooling and beach cleans to take practical steps to get closer to nature and to protect it.
Ann McKechin, Trustee and Executive Officer at the ScottishPower Foundation said: “The RSPB Scotland Dolphinwatch programme is facilitating a deep community connection with marine wildlife and the ScottishPower Foundation is very much looking forward to seeing young people continue to be inspired to look after, as well as experience, nature in the Aberdeen coastal area as part of the new school engagement programme.”
Sadie added: “We would like to thank our partners – Aberdeen City Council, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) and the Aberdeen Harbour Board Community Action Fund – for their continued support for the project. We would also like to thank Viking Optics who are kindly continuing to loan us binoculars to ensure local schoolchildren can get the best views of the dolphins they can. We are also incredibly grateful to the ScottishPower Foundation and Heritage Lottery Fund because without their funding we wouldn’t be able to run these free marine-themed sessions in local schools”.
RSPB Scotland is now taking bookings for visits to start in October. They suspect sessions will be very popular and advise teachers to book soon to avoid disappointment, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dolphinwatch is a ScottishPower Foundation and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) funded project led by RSPB Scotland in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) and the Aberdeen Harbour Board.
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