- It’s not often children get the chance to put their head in the mouth of a shark, but that’s just one exciting adventure that school children at Portsmouth International Port’s Marine Wildlife Festival had today.
- Purple Agency on behalf of Portsmouth International Port
It wasn’t a real shark, of course, but one of 13 life sized inflatable models of whales, sharks and dolphins that are on display in the terminal building. The biggest is 42 feet long, that’s 13 metres of whale that you can stand next to. Four are hanging from the ceiling.
The ‘pop up’ exhibition opened today (11th February), with classes from schools all around Portsmouth already booked to come and take part in a “Whale Workshop”. Experts from marine wildlife charity ORCA are taking lessons, with students learning all about the whales, dolphins, porpoises, sharks, seals and turtles that can be found on a Ferry crossing from Portsmouth International Port. Passengers and locals can also come and visit at any time during the four day long exhibition.
The first school to visit this morning was Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School in Portsmouth. School Leader, Leeanna Cain said, “many of our children have never seen dolphins, whales or sharks, or may only have seen them in captivity or whilst on holiday; Portsmouth International Port’s event today not only informed children all about these mammals but also captured their interest, creating a real-life learning experience. Our pupils were really engaged by the event and have not stopped asking questions; they cannot believe that these mammals can be found in the sea just off the SouthCoast!”.
Whale watching is becoming a popular holiday pastime, with people paying thousands for trips around the world. Yet few realise they can see a huge variety of whales and other species when sailing from Portsmouth to Spain as part of a holiday or other trip. This is because the ferries travel through the Bay of Biscay, which is a whale and dolphin hotspot thanks to the variety of depth ranging from 200 – 4,999 metres deep and the abundance of food that suits many different species. This includes the deep diving Sperm Whale and Cuvier’s Beaked Whale, making it a perfect spot for passengers to go looking for these magnificent creatures.
Martin Putman, Port Manager of Portsmouth International Port, said ‘Since Brittany Ferries launched its whale watching mini cruises a few years ago we’ve become known as a gateway port for seeing whales, dolphins and other beautiful marine mammals. Anyone heading off on holiday to Spain has the chance of a memorable encounter, and this incredible Marine Wildlife Festival gives a great idea of what you might see.”
ORCA has been working hard with Brittany Ferries for 10 years, with wildlife officers onboard the ‘Pont Aven’ and ‘Cap Finistère’ recording sightings of Marine wildlife. The charity is always keen to share its knowledge with passengers, helping them to understand more about what is in the sea around them.
Anna Bunney ORCA Community Wildlife Officer said, “People don’t fully appreciate how accessible a wide variety of species is right on our doorstep. There’s no need to spend big money to see whales when it’s often an added bonus when travelling from Portsmouth International Port. We’re delighted to be a part of the Marine Wildlife Festival, bringing this rich variety of creatures to life inside the terminal building.”
On display are life-size models of a 13m long female Sperm Whale, 8m Minke Whale, 8m Basking Shark, 6m Pilot Whale, 6m Orca Whale, 3m Orca Whale Calf, 3m, Risso’s Dolphin, 3m Bottlenose Dolphin, 2m Common Dolphin, 2m Striped Dolphin, 1.5m Harbour Porpoise, 2m Grey Seal male, female & calf, and a 2m Leatherback Turtle.
There is also one more loveable whale also in attendance. Pip, Portsmouth International Port’s cuddly human sized mascot, will be making an appearance for photos with young children and families off on half term holidays.
For further information please contact Emma Gaisford/Julie Blackwell on 01256 631696 or email Julie.email@example.com