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Discovering the marine environment with elementary school children


Wallis et Futuna Service de l'Environnement


A joint venture was established by the Territorial Service of Youth and Sports in Wallis and Futuna, in partnership with the ‘Children of the lagoon’ organisation established by Pascal Nicomette and the Territorial Service of the Environment in Wallis and Futuna, with the aim  to raise awareness and reinforce school children’s knowledge of reef conservation issues.

Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands is a French island collectivity in the South Pacific between Tuvalu to the northwest, Fiji to the southwest, Tonga to the southeast, Samoa to the east, and Tokelau to the northeast.The coral and volcanic islets of Wallis are a refuge for nesting seabird colonies (noddies, sterns and brown boobies). Its seabed is also rich with diverse fish fauna featuring 648 coastal fish species from 79 families (Williams et al., 2006). The lagoon and its associated ecosystems (shoreline, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps) do, therefore, raise major biodiversity challenges (Egretaud et al., 2007).

This is the first year of the project and it involved three classes from three pilot schools in Wallis (Vaitupu, Tepa, Liku).

The students were given the opportunity to participate in:

– Marine biology courses for pupils of CM2, in their respective schools, taught by the teachers of the Reef Check Association.
– Swimming lessons, with snorkelling equipment,
– The creation of 3 mini marine biotope control stations according to the REEF CHECK method. Each station will have a length of 20 meters on which will be counted and noted fish, invertebrates and substrate. In the continuity of the project, these stations will be followed every year and will allow the students to check the evolution of the state of the stations.

Due to the success of this venture in 2019, the project will be extended to all CM2 classes in Wallis and Futuna. This would involve about 205 students for Wallis and about 56 students for Futuna, giving a total of 261 students.

This project was made possible thanks to the financial contribution of IFRECOR (French Initiative for Coral Reefs), notably through the financing of a part of the missing diving equipment and teaching material.