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Student Warriors Defend Monaco’s Marine Environment in their Battleship Saint Sospir

What would you give for the opportunity to go for a day’s outing on the Mediterranean with a group of friends on the very special boat. Unique in fact, because it was a replica of the sixteenth century sailing boat Saint Sospir. And the lucky group of passengers were a class of children. Lucky yes, but they had earned the privilege by winning a big competition “Snapper for All”.

Each class in the competition spent a day at the Oceanographic Institute in Monaco and then were challenged to write a report on the marine environment. The class of CM1 / CM2 Marcel Pagnol of Cannes-la-Bocca took the laurels for the 2017/2018 edition. Congratulations to the students and their teacher Ms. Cristelle Texier. There was stiff competition so three other prizes were also awarded to: Toreille School (Vence), Aubanel School (Fréjus) and the Auber school (Nice).

The fantastic winning entry from Marcel Pagnol students was “Let’s rid the sea of all the rubbish thrown into it” – In French “Vidons le Mer de ses Dechets”.

And so the class of ten students, adventurers all, are bursting with excitement as they sail into the waves off the coast of Monaco. All made possible due to a collaboration between the Association SOS Grand Bleu and the Oceanographic Institute in Monaco. There is a possibility to see dolphins and who knows, maybe even sight a whale. There is something about dolphins that brings out the best in all of us, especially school children. Their smile, their playfulness. Their intelligence.

A dolphin pirouetting, a group of dolphins skimming the waves – this was the real reward for these children. A day full of boundless delights – except an ugly polystyrene container, an empty plastic bottle of washing detergent, an aerosol floating near the boat. A perfect day, a would be fairy-tale spoiled by jettisoned plastic.

If they were just words they would be almost oxymorons – dolphin and plastic. Definitely repugnant bed-fellows. Hard though it is for the children to experience, seeing these eye-sores, they are not faint of heart.

Shocked yes, resigned no. One can sense the real pay-off from this day’s voyage. They are determined to put up a fight, to make a difference, to do what they can to rid the Mediterranean of these pollutants. They are already up to speed in terms of knowledge. They know plastic can take hundreds of years to decompose and the threat it poses to marine life – never mind the aesthetic insult to the senses.

Saint Sospir and these children are now akin to a Viking war-ship – future warriors against pollution, future warriors to defend the marine environment against plastic.

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