The Flipper Fest held recently created awareness on the need for the conservation of marine life.

The Flipper Fest 2012 held at the Kumararani Meena Muthiah College had 218 children from over 50 schools painting their impression of the marine world. “Marine Bio-diversity” was the theme of the Fest and the chart papers soon got filled with colourful pictures of sea creatures.

On the hall above Principal Dr PT Vijayashree welcomed the paricipants, and Rakesh Vashist, IFS, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden spoke of Indian marine biodiversity, and why it should be protected. He invited students to visit the Marine Biosphere Reserve of Tamil Nadu at the Gulf of Mannar. In his address, SC Tyagi, DIG, Indian Coast Guard (East) discussed the importance of our ocean ecosystems – did you know it regulated the earth's climate? Dr. Dhandapani, retired scientitst, ZSI, said: How about aerial surveys to study populations of dugongs in the Gulf of Mannar?

Post lunch, carrying names like Hawksbill, Freshwater, Green, Olive Ridley and Leatherback, five school teams got ready for a marine quiz. As the questions flashed on the projector screen, it was clear the teams were well informed about local eco-systems.

On day 2, students put up informative posters and made presentations showing the depth of their research. But it was the eco-drama/street play competition that became the scene stealer. Plastic dumping, oil-drilling, over-fishing, unchecked coastal development, chemical cleaners were the themes enacted — as a play, skit, ballet, talk-show, slogans, timelines – just name it! If problems were highlighted, solutions were given too — in the form of what fishermen want, what media can do.

At the valedictory function, Dr. Malleshappa, Director, Department of Environment, said he was happy to see the enthusiastic participation of the students. Supraja Dharini, Chairperson, TREE Foundation said, “Only when people understand that our three basic needs air, water and food are provided by the ocean will they care about it. Let's work together so future generations of all life forms survive.”

In the end, as one performing team said, it didn't matter whether you stood first, second or last in the competitions. What was important was to carry the message that oceans form a major part of the earth. When we pollute the oceans we pollute the place we live in, and without ocean water and marine life, our own life is endangered. So, let's do what we can to keep our oceans clean, the marine creatures safe.