Soufriere, January 24, 2014: Caribbean SEA received funding from La Mer, an Estee Lauder company to launch its Kids 4 Coral program in 2013. The goal is to teach one hundred children in Saint Lucia how to snorkel. Approximately 60 children from Vieux-Fort, Soufriere and Marigot learned how to snorkel in 2013. Kids 4 Coral will soon be conducted in Dennery and Castries. Participation is free and equipment is provided for use during the program.
The island of Saint Lucia, our home, is surrounded by many beautiful coral reefs, yet many Saint Lucians have never witnessed these majestic sights that many tourists travel hundreds of miles to see every year. Furthermore, many of the actions that we partake in on land have a huge negative impact on this delicate ecosystem, which not only puts at risk the diverse marine life that lives there, but also directly damages the livelihoods of those involved in the tourist and fishing industries.
In order to sensitize the youth of Saint Lucia to the beauty and importance of these reef ecosystems, we are started our “Kids 4 Coral” program. Through this program, we teach students ages 8 – 12 years how to snorkel, identify many of the local marine plants and animals, and how to make simple changes in their everyday lives to protect the underwater world. We also encourage parents to attend both the classroom and the snorkel sessions and have had great support particularly in Vieux-Fort. We work with lifeguards as well as dive and snorkel operators and other volunteers from the community who assist in running the program.
The program, which we have successfully run in Curaçao in the past, is a four week program which includes lessons on Coral Reefs, Mangroves, Seagrass, reef fish and associated species. A special lesson on the lionfish is also included and participants get to eat lionfish. The children get to enjoy snorkeling at four different beaches and reefs on the island, all whilst learning a new life skill. Each snorkeling experience is different and the children and a few parents get to see all the common reef species like parrotfishes, yellowtail snappers, trumpetfish, grunts and sergeant majors. We have had a few rare sightings of lobsters, mating octopi, a small sting ray, porcupine fish and a reticulated eel (pictured above, credit Saphira Hunt).
Caribbean SEA is grateful to our sponsor La Mer for making it possible to bring an appreciation of the sea and marine life to the youth of Saint Lucia. We would like to thank Shala Monroque and the Saint Lucia Tourist Board for their valued assistance. The program was featured in the May 2013 issue of Vogue magazine. Special thanks to our volunteers including Stella Clingman (PCV), Johnson Charles, Kimberly Charles, Tessa Hinds, lifeguards Germain and Coach Andy and operators Mystic Man Tours, Dive Fair Helen, Tides Dive Shop, Island Divers and Scuba St. Lucia.
We welcome volunteers who would like to assist. For more information contact the Program Director for Saint Lucia, Nadia Cazaubon via email at firstname.lastname@example.org