09 September 2013

FishBase, SeaLifeBase and Mundus Maris: Science and art combined!

The FishBase (FB) and SeaLifeBase (SLB) databases, under the FishBase and Information Research Group, Inc. (FIN) collaborated with Mundus Maris as a science-base, through information exchange. The cooperation serves to provide opportunities to increase awareness of the public about marine biodiversity and the unsustainable practices of many fisheries today.

Mundus maris is a non-profit organization whose mission is "to provide scientific and relevant indigenous knowledge and encourage artistic expression about the sea in order to promote its restoration, conservation and sustainable use, to further the study, understanding and respect of aquatic ecosystems and associated biological and cultural diversity". It is particularly active in supporting young people and their teachers so as to stimulate curiosity about the sea and engagement to protect it. Practicing international cooperation is the most promising way to develop solutions to the current fisheries and climate crises.

As part of the development and field testing of teaching aids for schools in Gambia and Senegal, Mundus maris used its collaboration with FishBase, FAO and local scientists to design fish rulers with minimum size of the major commercial species. 
The use of these fish rulers and related teaching aids led to concerns about the extent of fishing juveniles, thus the sustainability of the major fisheries in these countries. The negative effects were already felt through erosion of social conditions of many people in the fishing communities, among others. For the young people it raised the stakes of getting enough education and alternative opportunities to earn a living as adults, something that is easier said than done.

In May 2012 therefore, Mundus maris launched an invitation to schools and youth groups to find names for the baby fish, which had been designed by Filipino artist, Mike Yap, a passionate diver and associate of FishBase and SeaLifeBase. The babyfish were also used in posters, colouring sheets, and bookmarks disseminating the motto “Let the baby fish grow”. Five language versions carried the message to many countries as part of the on-going awareness campaign of Mundus maris. By inviting youth to give names to the babyfish and tell their story, it was intended that they become the Mundus maris mascots. Hundreds of children from different countries responded and proposed names and stories about the baby fish. An international jury determined the winner and all participating groups won certificates and prizes.

The winners are children from the Mundus maris club of the secondary school (CEM) in Kayar, Senegal. The mascots are now named Samba (babyfish boy) and Kumba (babyfish girl). To honour the effort of the winners, Mundus maris asked the same artist to animate their story. This video was just released by Mundus maris. Hope you watch and enjoy this!

Let us continue to support these organizations for the welfare of our oceans, our children and future generations. To donate, please proceed to their respective sites.

Written by:
Patricia Yap and Cornelia Nauen

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