As we had announced a few days back, this year the IDP has gone a step further on its public awareness and education initiatives and last Sunday, 11th of August, we held a special event in Vonitsa’s seaside; ΤΟ ΠΕΡΙΒΑΛΛΟΝ ΤΟΥ ΑΜΒΡΑΚΙΚΟΥ / THE NATURE OF AMVRAKIKOS GULF. It was a great success; the celebration took off around 7pm and went on until close to midnight.
The seafront of Vonitsa crowned by its majestic medieval castle was beautifully decorated with all the artwork produced for this particular event by children from the Primary School of Vonitsa, the Centre of Creative Activities for Children of the Municipality and local artists offered the perfect setting. Folk Greek songs evoking the sea and what we like about the sea were played in big speakers set up exclusively for the event.
We started with some games and interactive activities addressed to the younger audience and their families. Four tables were set up with a variety of support materials and resources to stimulate “creativity” around the marine ecosystems and cetaceans. Particularly successful were the templates from Thalassa Project and WDC to be coloured by children, who were also encouraged to make their own dolphin or whale with a plastic bottle. Our friend Laura Royo, responsible for SUNSAIL’s S.E.A. Project (Sailing with Environmental Awareness), a pioneer educational initiative in Ionian waters targeting recreational sailors and boaters, organized a very catchy game addressing the issue of marine debris, their effect on the marine ecosystem and their lifespan until decomposition.
Simultaneously, around those tables the following two expositions were going on:
“Green tips”; run by another enthusiastic friend of the IDP, Amalia Floriou Servou. Amalia’s exposition focussed on providing info on the sources of marine pollution, how marine litter affect sea life and us, and provided very simple tips for recycling and live in an environmentally friendly way. Large pictures of unwanted items found in the sea were put on display.
“How long it will last”. This was complementary with Laura’s S.E.A. Project. A Greek version of the poster How long until it’s gone? A trash guide to the oceans by NOAA about marine debris was displayed.
At 9:30 these activities were interrupted to be followed by a series of presentations carried out by the main peer, where a big screen and 200+ chairs (not enough!) were arranged improvising an open-air theatre:
– “The diverse landscapes of Amvrakikos” by Rita Pantazi, currently teaching at the Primary School of Messolonghi and former teacher of Vonitsa’s secondary school, nicely introducing to the audience beautiful images from all over the Gulf, showing its extensive diversity and scenery.
– “Dolphins of Amvrakikos” by Tethys researcher Ioannis Giovos, about the work conducted in the context of the IDP for over a decade on the highly-resident community of bottlenose dolphins living in the Gulf, how they adapt to its increasingly fragile ecosystem.
– “Amvrakikos… a unique ecosystem” by our colleague Maria Rakka, showing the uniqueness of the Amvrakikos ecosystem by presenting its large biodiversity of flora and fauna and introducing also the threats that the Gulf is facing to provide some ‘’food for thoughts’’ to the large audience attending the event.
These presentations were followed by a very emotional speech given by Ioannis Zisis, professional small-scale fisherman from Vonitsa, with a life-long experience working in the Gulf, who gave a very clear message about his perception on Amvrakikos, the threats that the Gulf is facing and the main factors posing increasing difficulties to him and his fellow fishermen to make a living from their work at sea now and in the future.
The evening was wrapped-up with the projection of the 30-min documentary “Amvrakikos… this habitat” by Giorgos Belesiotis, which won back in 1981 an award as the best short documentary in Europe. Despite being produced over 30 years ago this documentary illustrates perfectly the traditional way of fishing at the lagoons of Amvrakikos (carried out still now) and the uniqueness of the Gulf’s ecosystem.
This event would had not been possible without the unconditional support an collaboration of a very enthusiastic and determined bunch of people to all of them goes my deep gratitude: Amalia Floriou Servou, Rita Pantazis, Maria Rakka, Laura Royo, Panagiotis John Skliris, Ioannis Zisis.
The following people played and important role in involving local children in the event and in logistical support:
- Anastasia Masoura Aravani and Eutuxia Paliogianni; Painting Workshop, Vonitsa
- Georgia Tsavala; 1st and 2nd Primary School, Vonitsa
- Vaggelio Koumantani and her colleagues of Centre of Creative Activities for Children, Vonitsa
- Giorgos Belesiotis; author of the documentary “Amvrakikos… this habitant”
- Penu Vasilakou, Nektaria Lampri and Nikos Kalogeropanos; Munisipality of Aktio-Vonitsa
- Our most loyal volunteers Richard Lawson and Elaine Massie, who are always there when the IDP needs them and for that we will be always grateful.
- Our partners of the Thalassa Project WWF-Greece and MOm for providing support materials that played a very important role on delivering effectively our conservation message. WDC materials available online were also very effective.
A special mention goes to our friend Jimmy Pantazis for being a truly believer in this event and for fuelling us with hope when things were not looking so good. Thanks brother!
Last but not least, my most sincere gratitude to my colleague Ioannis Giovos; the real artificer of this event, whose stubbornness and determination made possible to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, which led to an unforgettable celebration. Let’s see what he has in mind for next year!