Published by Brett Soberg

CLASSROOM ON THE WATER

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”

This famous quote by Senegalese engineer and environmentalist Baba Dioum lies at the heart of everything we do at Eagle Wing Tours. We believe in the power of ecotourism and the difference it can make to the long-term health of the ocean and its inhabitants.

And who could be better ambassadors for ocean conservation than the next generation?

This fall, Eagle Wing Tours kicked off our new education outreach program with two big initiatives.

The first event happened on Sept. 25 with Orca Live, three interactive broadcasts from Race Rocks that were live-streamed to more than 200 classrooms and over 4,600 students across BC. 200 students also watched the LIVE-stream on the Giant screen from IMAX Victoria. Eagle Wing provided our new catamaran, Wild 4 Whales, as a floating classroom for this unique educational experience.

                   

   

Orca Live connected students in K-12 classrooms with experts on killer whales and Indigenous perspectives. What better place to talk to these experts than Race Rocks, while surrounded by feeding humpback whales and sea lions?

During the live-stream, onboard experts answered questions from the classroom via Twitter, email and video. Over 350 questions were posted on Twitter alone!

                                              

Orca Live partners were Live It, Roll Focus Productions, Ocean Wise, 2Canoe CoDesign Group and Eagle Wing Tours. School sponsors were BC Ferries-SeaForward,  School District 91, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Saturna Island Marine Research and Education Society (SIMRES), Hillside Mall, Peacock Billiards and John McLeod Law Corp.

Also this fall, we’ve launched an unprecedented partnership with teachers and marine experts from the Greater Victoria School District and the Royal BC Museum (RBCM).

Aimed at Grades 4-8, the program has three parts. First, Eagle Wing’s senior marine biologist Sydney McCabe is visiting classrooms to ignite young imaginations through interactive lectures, videos and critical thinking exercises.

                             

Next, we get the students out on a tour on our vessel, 4 Ever Wild to show them our big blue backyard—seals, sea lions, marine birds, kelp forests, otters, perhaps orcas and humpbacks, and more.

“We’re thrilled that our students are getting the chance to truly explore the Salish Sea and experience the diversity of living things that call it home,” says Aaron Maxwell, vice-principal of Arbutus Global Middle School. “The opportunity to connect with local experts, to physically get out on the water and to witness the diversity of this area for themselves, will help the students build a connection with this incredible place.”

The curriculum focuses on the natural history of the Salish Sea; historical culture and Indigenous perspectives; and current culture, including natural resources and the economy, environmental stewardship, conservation, sustainability and more.

“We want them to immerse themselves in this amazing ecosystem and experience it as they never have before,” says McCabe. “It’s our hope that the sights, sounds and different perspectives they hear will inspire and empower them to protect ocean ecosystems in their everyday lives and future careers.”

The third session is a follow-up visit of choice, such as a visit to the RBCM or a beach clean-up. At the end of the program, the students will each create an artefact representing what they’ve learned from the experience. They’ll showcase their artefacts at a wrap-up event in April at the RBCM.

“An education program such as this has been a long-time dream of our company,” says Eagle Wing Tours co-owner Brett Soberg. “It’s finally happening, thanks to visionary partners equally committed to a common end goal—to foster and inspire the next generation of Salish Sea stewards.”

Photo credits:  Aaron Maxwell, Lorand Szasz Photography, Eagle Wing Tours