The magic of the see, touch and feel Aquavan experience is heading south this month (March) to help bring alive the crucial connections between rivers and the coastal environment.
The Aquavan, operated by the University of Otago’s NZ Marine Studies Centre, is visiting Gore and Invercargill, bringing live marine critters and touch pools to schools and communities.
Thriving Southland catchment coordinator Sarah Thorne said public and school sessions would be held in Gore on March 11 and Invercargill on March 20.
“Bring the family along and have some fun.”
The aim of the project is to create awareness and understanding of the connectivity between river health and the coastal environment, in a hands-on way, she said.
“They’re not separate. They’re connected. What happens in your catchment affects your river and coastal health. The Aquavan is like Finding Dory. It transports marine creatures around the country. The whole package is amazing. It brings out the inner kid in all of us.”
Thriving Southland has a vision of connecting communities to their land and waterways, so people understand more about their local environments and how to look after them, and the Aquavan does just that, Sarah said.
NZ Marine Studies Centre Curator Adelle Heineman said the Aquavan was a really dynamic way of creating awareness around the importance of healthy waterways and how that affects coastal areas.
“Children make a lot of discoveries through Aquavan activities and this creates great discussion around our environmental responsibilities, and the linkages between rivers and coasts.”
Gore Catchment Group Chair Chris Giles said it was exciting to have the Aquavan coming to Gore and encouraged anyone not involved in a school session to get along to the public session on the evening of March 11.
Waihopai Catchment Group Convenor Bob Schmidt said: “It’s a great opportunity for the school children and wider community to get some hands-on learning experience.”
Sunrise Rotary members will also be installing fish moulds beside stormwater drains around ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill as a reminder for people to think about what they put down drains.
“Many thanks to the Gore and Waihopai Catchment Groups for sourcing funding through Thriving Southland to bring this amazing educational resource to Southland,” Sarah said.
In the event that we remain at Covid Level 2, school visits will likely still go ahead (following all relevant Covid protocols), but the public sessions will be postponed. We will update the situation on www.thrivingsouthland.co.nz and the Thriving Southland Facebook page as soon as possible following the next Government Covid levels announcement.
Thursday 11 March
Location: Gore Town & Country Club
Time: 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Saturday 20 March
Location: ILT Stadium Southland Foyer
Time: 10.00am – 3.00pm