A dedicated Ocean week is held every year in August on the mid-Atlantic island of Faial, Azores. Visitors participate in aquatic sports, parades and concerts in Horta, the main city of the “Blue Island” and in 2017 the Cold-Water Coral group brought the deep-sea biological collection and respective research to the public, representing ATLAS and the MERCES project.
Specimens from all groups of corals were on display along with deep-sea images collected during scientific expeditions. Two complementary presentations summarised important facts about corals and introduced attendees to the main coral groups. A coral memory game, a dichotomous identification key and a "be a coral scientist" game showed children how to identify, sample and preserve a coral after collection on board a research vessel. The public also had the opportunity to see live corals in the DeepSeaLab, as well as viewing gorgonian sclerites under the microscope.
Thanks to a fantastic team effort, the evening was a success. Children not only loved it, but learned to remember the main types of deep-sea corals and how to differentiate them using the memory game. Their curiosity and eagerness to learn was amazing, and it was refreshing to see a new generation excited to familiarise themselves with deep-sea biodiversity.
By: Iris Sampaio, IMAR-UAz
Children learning “to be coral scientists" during ocean week on the Azores (IMAR-UAz)