Each year, Save The Med conducts week long marine science expeditions, during which we monitor the marine ecosystems, study selected marine species, collect data on plastic pollution and learn about the threats the Mediterranean Sea is facing and the solutions that could help regenerate it.
Participants who sign up for the expeditions not only help make these days at sea possible but also actively contribute to the work done onboard. And once a year so do school students, as part of their participation in the educational project “Changemakers At Sea.”
The project, which is run for the fourth consecutive year by Save the Med Foundation with the support and collaboration of Fundación Jesús Serra - Grupo Catalana Occidente, creates a platform where students become the main drivers of change in the Balearic Islands, creating a positive impact in their communities with some highly practical and applicable solutions to the issue of plastic pollution.
This year, out of 22 presented projects, a jury of experts struggled to selected the five most impactful ones, whose teams were invited to join Save The Med at sea. Two of the teams spent a week on-board the beautiful wooden sailing vessel from 1841, Rafael Verdera, while the others were invited for educational excursions on-board the solar powered boat Stenella.
During their time at sea, the students encountered and learned to identify sea turtles, dolphins, sunfish, jumping tuna, Spiny devil rays and a variety of seabirds. They analysed the presence of microplastics on the water surface and helped to retrieve plastic pollution and abandoned fishing gear at sea.
“The expedition turned out to be a life changing experience, not only for the Changemakers, but for everyone on board. The trip is a really unique chance for students to connect with the sea and nature first-hand and to gain abilities and outdoor skills that are not possible to convey in a classroom setting.” said Sergio Halpern Ruiz, marine biologist and educator at Save The Med Foundation.
Out of the selected projects, one was from “Team Ecolog”, made up of four students from Lycée Français... They presented an idea for an eco-catalogue style app, with one clear objective: to reduce single-use plastic consumption by connecting users to zero waste shops in their area. Through the app, users will be able find (and evaluate) shops and businesses that help consumers go plastic-free by selling package free products or providing reusable and returnable containers, offering products in bulk and promoting the Bring Your Own (BYO) system.
Another selected team was “Es Salobrar”, made up of four students from Col.legi Fra Joan Ballester who carried out an in-depth investigation and surveys in local commerces and shops, coming to the conclusion that many of them still use a lot of plastic bags - so they developed a campaign for the effective replacement of plastic with a reusable, carefully designed, tote bag option. They also used the information collected on their surveys to raise awareness in their school and local community, engaging an impressive amount of individuals and shops in their project.
Other impactful projects included creative campaigns for the reduction of single use sanitary waste, low impact business ideas, informative websites from youth to youth, poems that raise awareness and provoke emotions for change and much, much more! All projects can be viewed online on the project webpage www.changemakersatsea.com. Together they help inspire and engage local communities all around the Balearic Islands in the active care for the beautiful islands that we live on and the magnificent but fragile sea that surrounds us.
“Participating in the Changemakers Project was an unforgettable experience. Being part of it helped to strengthen conviviality, respect, friendship and the awareness to take care of our planet and our Mediterranean Sea,” adds Joana Maria Ferrer Bonet, teacher from Col.legi Fra Joan Ballester.
“Changemakers perfectly unites our two main objectives at Fundación Jesús Serra, to promote education and learning, in this case the topic is environmental protection, and to have a positive impact in local communities while preserving the humanitarian values of our founder,” points out Ignacio Gallardo-Bravo the Director of Fundación Jesús Serra.
The project doesn’t end here as each individual team is encouraged to continue their amazing efforts in plastic reduction.
For those who want to participate next year, the project will be open again to all students of the Balearics Islands aged 15-18 years. And that’s not all, after a pilot phase this year, a Junior version of the project means that students aged 8-14 will also be able to join the movement towards plastic-free future generations.
Meanwhile, anyone who would like to join Save The Med’s marine science expeditions while contributing to the science projects conducted onboard, has the possibility to do so! Find out more by visiting www.savethemed.org and following us on social media: @savethemed