A group of Year 5 students from Prospect Primary School recently had the chance to go out on the water for a hands-on lesson about mangroves.
The students had in a full day of lessons and a boat tour through the mangroves on March 4 led by Cathy Childs of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.
“This educational program has been funded by CUC for 14 years, and has been led by National Trust staff for about four years,” said Ms. Childs.
“All eight of the government school Year 5 classes take part in this one-day immersion in mangrove knowledge, and it continues to be a big hit with the students as well as the teachers,” she said.
The Prospect Primary students had some classroom lessons on mangrove fundamentals, then headed for the waters of the North Sound on a boat supplied by Sea Elements to get a firsthand look at what they were studying.
“The outing is great fun for the kids, as some have never been on a boat before, and many of the kids just appreciate the chance to do something different,” said Ms. Childs.
In addition to building their knowledge about mangroves, the students learned about related marine and terrestrial life.
“We also cover topics like the water cycle and climate change,” said Ms. Childs, noting that the preservation of Cayman’s mangrove ecosystems remains essential for plants and animals, as well as for the people who live here.
“Through this program, we hope to impart an understanding in the students of the many critical ecosystem services the mangroves of Cayman provide,” she said. “These include providing breeding grounds for the fish we eat and which live on our reefs, and offering storm surge protection through their amazing ability to hold vast amounts of water.
“In addition, through their evaporation cycle, mangroves supply significant amounts of precipitation to the western part of Grand Cayman, which receives 40 percent more rainfall than eastern Grand Cayman. This is largely thanks to the Central Mangrove Wetland, which though important is at present not a protected area.”