Pohakea Elementary Winners of Dolphin Quest Oahu’s Student Stewardship Contest
Pictured Above: Students feel the dolphins smooth skin during this educational interaction which is voluntary for the dolphin.
Honolulu, Hawaii – The creative work of 4th graders from Pohakea Elementary School in Honolulu, Hawaii won them an all-expense paid field trip to Dolphin Quest this week located at the Kahala Hotel & Resort. These lucky students submitted the grand prize-winning video entry for the Dolphin Quest Student Stewards Contest. Open to any Title I fourth grade classroom on Oahu, students were invited to create and explain a tool to educate others on the plight of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise and why we should save them.
“The creativity of the students and passion for protecting the vaquita porpoise was heartwarming,” said Jade Haughian, General Manager of Dolphin Quest, “it was difficult to choose just one winner.”
The winning submission was a video that incorporated hand-drawn and hand-crafted stop-motion sequences that describe the threat of extinction faced by the remaining few vaquita porpoises in the northern Gulf of California. The students offer ways to save the remaining vaquita by stopping the illegal fishing practices and removing the gillnets that are causing the vaquita’s demise.
Dolphin Quest’s education team was so impressed with the creativity of the submissions that they increased prizes awarded to include two additional field trips and five distance learning programs where students meet and learn about the dolphins through an interactive live video chat.
“I know as a parent that many of my children’s friends rarely, or never visit the beach and even less have the opportunity meet and learn about dolphins face-to-face,” said Ms. Haughian. “One of our goals with this contest is to inspire the next generation of ocean stewards who can take the lessons learned from the vaquita and help prevent other species from becoming critically endangered around the world and in Hawaii.”
“Being able to research endangered animals, learn what that means and let our elementary students learn about that…I feel like it is going to help our future generations be able to take more leadership in helping endangered animals,” says one of the participating Pohakea Elementary teachers. “Our students have learned a lot about whales and dolphins…coming here made it real to them.”
This educational outreach initiative was such a success, Dolphin Quest plans to host the Student Stewards Contest again next school year. Student entries about the vaquita will be part of a special public exhibition at The Kahala Mall on Oahu, Saturday, June 9, 2018. This special event will be an opportunity for the students to share their creativity and help raise awareness for the plight of the less than 30 remaining vaquita porpoises.
Dolphin Quest has hosted thousands of school children in its educational programs since it opened in 1988. A recent surveys of participating Hawaii teachers reveals 92% agree that visiting Dolphin Quest can inspire conservation action that can help marine mammals in the wild.
Dolphin Quest has also been very actively involved in raising awareness for the plight of the vaquita porpoise. It has donated over $70,000 and hundreds of hours of veterinary and expert administrative support to the Vaquita CPR initiative. This project is a collaboration between the Mexican Government, the zoological community and multiple organizations including the Marine Mammal Foundation and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. While, tragically, it may be too late for the vaquita, Dolphin Quest hopes that the attention on the vaquita will encourage a greater awareness and prevent other marine species from becoming extinct.
For more information about how to support the rescue efforts of the worlds most endangered porpoise, the Vaquita, or to make a donation, visit www.ammpa.org/vaquita.