March was a busy month for the Guardians of Kapiti Marine Reserve who have co-hosted and organised a range of community events and activities for schools, educators and the wider community as part of the annual nationwide Seaweek marine conservation and education programme.
The events included the inaugural Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) Kapiti Island Community Snorkel Day which the Guardians co-hosted with local EMR provider Mountains to Sea Wellington Trust.
More than 70 locals, many of whom had not previously snorkeled inside Kapiti marine reserve, attended this event.
"What a treat to snorkel just off shore and see an abundance of sea life."
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"We had a wonderful day snorkeling the Kapiti Marine Reserve and exploring Kapiti Island," said Genaya Naisbitt who attended the community snorkel event with her husband Brett.
"There were many highlights to the day but we especially loved snorkeling at the marine reserve. We got to experience first hand the importance of the marine reserve; what a treat to snorkel just off shore and see an abundance of sea life even in the post stormy waters."
The Guardians also hosted Marine Meter Squared (mm2.net.nz) citizen science environmental monitoring workshops in collaboration with Enviroschools and the Marine Studies Centre at the University of Otago.
Marine Meter Squared is a national citizen science programme which encourages communities to monitor and measure changes to the local marine environment from threats such as climates change, invasive marine species and sedimentation.
Attendees at these workshops investigated the marine life at several local sites in Kapiti and also learnt how to upload their data and observations to the national MM2 database.
Other activities included snorkeling field trips to Kapiti marine reserve for several local schools that are participating in the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme (EMR).
The Guardians are supporting local schools to participate in the EMR programme with funds they received from the WWF Environmental Education Action Fund.
"Being able to offer these types of experiences and opportunities for our local community to connect with and become guardian's or kaitiaki for the local marine environment is a vital part of the work that we are doing to ensure our awesome local marine reserve and surrounding marine environment is protected now and for future generations to enjoy," Guardians chairman Ben Knight said.
"It's been a huge month for our Guardians kaupapa and I'm proud of the progress we are making in this area.
"I'm also very grateful to all of those who participated and to those individuals and organisations who helped us bring Seaweek to Kapiti this year."