THE ISLAND BAY MARINE EDUCATION CENTRE
The Island Bay Marine Education Centre is a non-profit conservation education facility located on the rugged, rocky south coast of Wellington, New Zealand. The Centre was created to stimulate interest in, increase knowledge of, and promote the conservation and sustainable use of local, national, and global coastal marine ecosystems through live habitat displays, public education programmes and community - initiated research projects.
The Centre was established in 1996 by Dr Victor Anderlini and Ms Judy Hutt who are the Centre's sole staff. Their Marine Education Programme (which is supported entirely by grants, donations and their voluntary efforts) has given grown from a small pilot project to an extremely successful and nationally recognized programme.
Annually, the Centre now receives over 50,000 pre-school, school age, and adult visitors who participate in the Centre's specialized conservation education courses. In addition to these organized courses, Victor and Judy host a monthly open weekend to allow families and friends of week-day visitors the opportunity to also view, close up and hands on, some of the vast array of biologically diverse coastal marine flora and fauna and learn something about their ecology.
The programme has outgrown its present facilities and Victor and Judy are now in the process of finalizing plans and seeking financial support for a new purpose-built Marine Conservation Education Centre. They have formed a non-profit charitable trust to pursue this vision.
The new Centre will allow many more visitors to participate in both organized educational sessions and informal learning experiences.
The proposed live displays will be state-of-the-art, and will showcase the diversity of local coastal marine life in natural habitat galleries such as the 600,000 litre Giant Kelp Forest display.
The new Centre will also be a forum for local environmental and special-interest group issues related to marine conservation, and a research and training centre especially for local indigenous Maori people. The Centre's philosophy will emphasize the free exchange of information and transfer of technology among nations for the purpose of promoting coastal marine conservation.
If adequate funding is committed during the coming year, the new Centre will be operational by December 2003.