Millions around the world celebrated World Oceans Day on Thursday, June 8 and in Prince Rupert, a youthful flavour was added in learning about proper stewardship of the Pacific Ocean at Atlin Terminal.
Elementary school students in Grades 2 – 4 from Roosevelt Park joined officials from the Port of Prince Rupert, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Prince Rupert Marine Search and Rescue and Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) Thursday morning for an inside look at what goes on aboard different types of vessels that traverse the waters here.
From spill response to rescue to patrol boats, the students got the chance to get on board, while also taking the opportunity to learn about water quality as well as the Port Interpretive Centre.
“We do have a massive ocean here and I want to get kids outside,” said School District 52 (SD52) teacher Mike McDowall,who leads an oceans unit in-class to discuss ongoing changes in the ocean.
“I definitely believe outdoor education is key. We piece together looking at what we have for options … getting some kids to do some science, getting physically on some boats … and taking a look at some future options when they get older, like becoming scientists or working with Fisheries and Oceans.”
Students rotated through three different stations at the interpretive centre, water quality centre and vessel tours and officials at each station explained their role in the ocean ecosystem process. Whether it be patrol, enforcement, ocean conservation, water testing or port activity, it was all hands-on all the time for the kids.
“We’ve got a new boat now that provides the opportunity to be on the water for days on end. We’ve got sleeping quarters, a bigger vessel and our boat now has the capability to operate a dive team,” said Edward Stacey, intelligence officer for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
“We’re walking them through that and our all-new equipment. We’ve got video footage, we use night vision on the camera, that type of stuff.”
Stacey added that the officials with Fisheries and Oceans can also act as first responders in a search and rescue mission, something the students always have questions on. Even the parents inquire about potential career paths associated with oceans for their kids, said the officer.
“We’re so connected to the ocean here. For everyone, it’s their life. Every discussion that goes on everyday is about fish, about the ocean, so getting youth involved so they can continue that stewardship – that knowledge for the future is important,” Stacey said.
“That’s why we come every year. We love taking part in these kinds of things.”
WCMRC staff also took the students on a couple brand new vessels for the area – the Gil Sentinel and the Kaien Sentinel, docked beside the trusted Eagle Bay at the terminal and showed them the control panels, spill response equipment and procedures.
McDowall thanked all station leaders for the day for helping the young minds understand more about the importance of the Pacific Ocean.
“The volunteers are really good about wanting to come out and teach the kids. They’re passionate about what they do and for them to come out and give up a day of their own time to show these kids what they’re going to do, it’s a huge thing and all the thanks goes out to them,” he said.
Learn more about World Oceans Day at www.worldoceansday.org