Sea & Learn eco-awareness event begins October 1

POSTED: 09/25/13 5:50 PM

THE BOTTOM, Saba – Sea & Learn 2013 is an upcoming series of events on Saba organized to “enhance your environmental awareness.” A highly renowned group of international experts in various fields will descend on the island to deliver many free lectures, interactive presentations, and hands-on field projects. The event is free and open to everyone.

“We have 15 scientists coming for the month,” said event organizer Lynn Costenaro and co-founder of Sea Saba Dive Center. The event is going into its 11th year now. Costenaro is also the president of the Sea & Learn on Saba Foundation.

Dr. Mark Marks, a world renowned diver who has snorkeled with Great White sharks without the protection of a cage, will be among the group of experts lecturing and providing field trips this year. There are night time trips as well in which visiting astronomer Stephen Martin will give a demonstration on how to read a star map, for example. Saba is ideal for astronomy because of its low light pollution.

“When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade,” Costenaro said of the limited options a small island like Saba has to host major events. “Saba has nature.” She conceived the idea of inviting scientists and experts in various fields to convene on the island. She recalled meeting one as a client of her dive center years ago and the concept was born. She remembered her own curiosity about the natural world and thought it would be wonderful to have people come to the island to explain things to the lay person interested in learning more.

Costenaro thought it would be great for people “going out and doing things” with these experts. “It’s about inspiring local kids” too. There are limited options for young Sabans, she explained, not all can become NBA stars or famous Hip Hop artists, but they can become scientists of the natural world and their island is a perfect living laboratory to study. “There’s a whole world out there,” she pointed out.

“There are many exciting activities and ways to learn, like casual evening presentations at local hotels and restaurants. We also host projects in the field and in the local schools where participants collaborate directly with world-renowned scientific experts.  Our hope is that people will come away with a greater understanding and appreciation for nature and have fun in the process,” said Scott Kinyon, an associate of Costenaro’s.

Sea Saba Dive Center is currently working with a young man of 17, whose “interested in doing the right things,” Costenaro said, and has become a sort of role model for other boys on the island. “We’re teaching young boys to scuba dive to assist in scientific dives,” Costenaro added. The boys will be diving alongside visiting scientists to help in their research, while gaining valuable experience as well.

Costenaro mentioned that the entire community on Saba is behind the project, with restaurants, hotels, and businesses chipping in, providing free rooms, food, and transportation for the visiting scientists. “So far, it’s been a great success,” she concluded. “We are adding a multimedia production project and a Youth Environmental Leadership Program to help reach more people and a younger generation,” Kinyon added.

The event is also generously funded by the Prins Bernard CultuurFonds and the William Froelich Foundation.

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