The Sea Watch Foundation’s Regional Coordinator for Dorset, Catherine de Bertrand, has recently visited the Prince of Wales Primary school in Dorchester. This is her story!
On the 12th June I talked to the pupils at The Prince of Wales School in Dorchester about the Sea Watch Foundation and the whales, dolphins and porpoise that can be seen around the UK.
As I led the school assembly I was so pleased to see how the children reacted to the photos, videos and information I was giving them. It was a great reminder of how enchanting and inspiring these animals are. I talked to the children about the work of the Sea Watch Foundation, the network of volunteers around the UK and told them about how and why I volunteer for the charity.
As I work at the school once a week leading Forest School sessions and running an after school wildlife club, the children were well aware that I had been on a little adventure a few weeks before volunteering at Orca Watch in Scotland, so it gave me a great chance to tell them a little bit about why I went and what exactly I was doing while I was there. Although I wasn’t lucky enough to see orca this time, I explained that as a volunteer observer I spend a lot of time looking for these animals without seeing them but for those moments that I do get a sighting, it’s all worth it. I think from the excited reactions to the photos and videos, the children understood that!
The school has a great environmental ethos, with care and respect for the environment embedded in everything they do, from having various wildlife areas within the school grounds to looking into introducing environmentally friendly school uniform. When I spoke to the children about the threats cetaceans face and showed some difficult photos including a dolphin entangled in a fishing net and a beached whale dying from swallowing so much plastic, I could see there was real concern in the room and a great understanding of why it’s so important to protect marine mammals.
It wasn’t all so serious; we also looked at some fun facts! We covered a little bit of anatomy, the differences between toothed and baleen whales, how dolphins find their food using echolocation and how they sleep. I was extremely impressed by one little boy from the Reception class who told me that cetaceans close down one side of their brain to sleep.
The highlight of the talk came when I played the sounds that whales, dolphins and porpoise make. There were lots of surprised giggles when I played the trumpet of a Right whale and call of a Humpback whale but never before have I seen a group of children clap and dance to the sound of a Minke whale! I know I won’t forget it and I hope the children won’t either.
Many thanks to the Prince of Wales School for inviting me to talk to the children and sorry if the children were a couple of minutes late leaving…..I can talk and talk and talk about cetaceans!