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The Caribbean Conser-vation Association (CCA) is looking to take a hands-on approach to educating Barbadians about coral reefs. Word of this has come from Mr. Leslie Walling, Executive Director of CCA, during a recent interview with the Barbados Advocate. This is a plan that is being discussed now. You may be aware of a proposal to Government to create an artificial reef in Carlisle Bay. We have been in discussion with the company making that proposal and local dive operators to create another dimension to the project, to use it for public awareness and education, he explained. The CCA head said they have suggested that they use the artificial reef and make modules that simulate reefs to educate the future generation about the importance of protecting the coral reefs. Our suggestion is to put small artificial reefs close to shore in medium depth water. This allows us to take for example young kids out and expose them to certain environmental concepts; we can show them a natural reef and an artificial reef. The artificial reef can then be used to explain things like colonisation, because it acts like a substrate for corals to settle down and develop the reef, [as well as] recruitment because fish are coming to feed along the artificial reef and succession  how a first wave of organisms come in and move out and others follow, he explained. Likewise, he said, they have suggested that artificial reefs be put out at snorkelling depths to cater to older children and adults. What we are trying to do is make a transition from the shore to the deeper water that will allow us to cater to different units of the public, so as to educate them fully, he added. Additionally, he revealed that the CCA has been in discussion with an overseas company that has developed online training modules in coral reef ecology, to encourage it to make this part of the modules. He also believes that this proposal would be an excellent complement to the People and Corals programme soon to start in the primary schools. The online programme is pitched at the ordinary person. It is not highly technical, but it does provide you with a good understanding of what a coral is, what a coral reef is and what are the different zones. This company has developed this product as a certification scheme for scuba divers. What they are saying to us is that they will provide us with online access to the teaching material for the schools, so we will have the hard copy for the teachers to use in the classroom and online access to use in the classroom and at home, Mr. Walling stated


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