A minibus packed with a petting aquarium, 110 litres of seawater, 20 kilos of gravel, one sea cucumber, dead man’s fingers, five starfish and two marine biologists have been touring the inland muncipalities of Region Västra Götaland. The tour, which was given the name Hela Västra Götalands Västerhav (the Whole of Region Västra Götaland’s West Coast), started out in Alingsås on 4 November and finished in Skövde on 28 November.
The University of Gothenburg and the Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences have been taking part in the West Coast Maritime Week for several years now, a themed week on the marine environment offering activities in Region Västra Götaland’s coastal municipalities. The Hela Västra Götlands Västerhav Project has been jointly funded by Region Västra Götaland and the Lovén Centre, and is an extension of the West Coast Maritime Week. Martin Larsvik and Marie Moestrup Jensen, both of the Lovén Centre, have spent four weeks visiting lower and upper secondary schools to talk about the West Coast and discuss issues about the marine environment.
During the course of a one-hour lesson, the pupils have been given an introduction on the West Coast and the opportunity to see three films that have just been made about environmental changes in the sea and the environmental research taking place at the Lovén Centre. They have also been able to touch the fifteen or so spectacular organisms in the petting aquarium. Last of all, the pupils visiting the interactive West Coast Wall have built food webs and discussed the effects of environmental change on the marine ecosystem. The project has also been presented to politicians at municipal level and civil servants during a visit to Dals-Ed.
“During the course of the Project about 700 people took part, who came from seven schools in Alingsås, Borås, Mellerud, Dals-Ed and Skövde.” “The lesson has been really appreciated, and many of the pupils have said that they’ve acquired a greater understanding of the sea and the way the entire ecosystem is being affected by change,” says Marie Moestrup Jensen, a marine biologist and communications officer.
The petting aquarium was a great idea, and many of the pupils have said that that was the highlight of the hour. But the three films on foreign species, acidification of the sea and eutrophication have been popular as well. Many teachers have asked them to be shown again, and they will be available for viewing on the Lovén Centre website for all those wishing to use them.
“We have discussed with the pupils what sort of sea we want. We have also discussed whether change is good or bad, and the idea that when certain species are threatened other species may benefit. It is has been great fun for us to meet youngsters who despite their not living on the coast are so committed and interested,” says Martin Larsvik, a marine biologist and information officer at the Lovén Centre.