"What a great opportunity to use our yacht to give back to our community, through education of the local children."
About 40 children from the Bay of Islands are scheduled and 12 children have already completed the Carino marine explorer activity, promoting hands-on learning about the critically endangered bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Islands.
Organiser Carino Wildlife Cruises is a wildlife and sailing tourism business in the Bay of Islands. Owner Vanessa McKay said: “We are passionate about our environment and helping to protect wildlife for the future. COVID-19 provided us with the opportunity to give back to the community. So we decided that an education programme that helps local kids to become kaitiaki for the Bay of Islands fits well with our values.
“We have an amazing vessel on which we take guests out to view and experience the stunning Bay of Islands. Our yacht is purpose built for this. We knew that we would not be booked every day and what a great opportunity to use our yacht to give back to our community, through education of the local children.
“We want kids to consider the marine environment around them and how it is all related; to increase kids’ interest in natural science by using children’s natural wonder about dolphins and wildlife to inspire kids to look conservation in their own backyard. Basically, we want local kids to experience something that is outside of their day-to-day life and maybe to push some boundaries, maybe consider a career on the ocean, in working on boats to support marine or wildlife conservation.
“There is so much wildlife on the brink of extinction here in New Zealand and worldwide, we don’t want to lose the bottlenose dolphin from the bay on our watch. We are dedicated to creating responsible marine wildlife watching in the Bay of islands for future generations,” Vanessa says.
The focus of the Carino Marine Explorer Activity is to bring awareness to the declining population of the bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Islands and what can be done to stop the decline, through understanding how a marine mammal sanctuary works and changes in vessel behaviour.
The first marine cruise in December gave the children a chance to learn about their own backyard, some of whom had never been out on in the Bay of Islands. It was an opportunity to try something different.
"It’s a truly local project that draws on the participation of a range of volunteers and supporters," says Vanessa. "We have received help from marine biologists at the Trioceans Research, local education institutions, Department of Conservation and local enthusiastic supporters."
Where to from here?
"We have several companies and individuals willing to sponsor more trips out with kids. We hope to create an ongoing relationship with local community groups and hapu, that will help lead to a cruise at least once a month. We have created a Carino Marine Explorer Club, where we will email updates to our new explorers and want for this programme to last into the future."
Find out more about the Carino Marine Explorer Activity.
Tourism Sustainability Commitment
Carino Wildlife Cruises are meeting several of the Tourism Sustainability Commitments through their marine explorer activity, particularly Business Commitment #8: Community Engagement – Actively and positively engage with the communities in which we operate, taking a leadership role to champion causes that are important to the community.