The Explorers are Loving Sharks... Skates and Rays over Valentines

Explorers Sharks +  schools outreach module and resources launched by shark enthusiasts Cerys and Hugo Johnston with lead author Cushla Dromgool Regan (Explorers Education Programme) and shark expert Graham Johnston (Marine Institute). Photographer Andrew Downes.The Marine Institute Explorers Education Programme team are delighted to deliver the new primary school class projects with schools: Fin-tastic sharks + this term, as well as launch the new educational resources on line. 

Patricia Orme, Corporate Services Director, Marine Institute, congratulated the Explorers team on creating such a wealth of new shark, skate and ray materials that promote Ireland’s rich marine biodiversity in the classroom.  “Primary school teachers and children around the coast love learning about sharks and their relatives. It is always a favourite topic to cover with children, teachers and our outreach teams, who visit the classes of over 13,000 children annually.”

Children of all ages have a strong voice and inherently care for our environment and we welcome the fact that they are always keen to help us all engage with being more conscientious and proud of our marine resource and wildlife,” she said. 

In Irish waters, there are 71 species of sharks, skates and rays, and also chimaeras. In fact, this includes over half the number of shark, skate and ray species found in European waters.  

Cushla Dromgool Regan, Explorers Education Manager and lead author of the resources, said: “Working with marine scientists and inspired by friends’ children who are passionate about these species, we are delighted to be celebrating the launch of the Explorers Fin-Tastic Sharks+ new online shark resources over Valentines.  We all love sharks, skates and rays and are keen to share the many stories about the importance of having these species in our waters – from the basking shark to the skates and rays that live in the waters along the coastline to the deeper waters near the Irish continental shelf.” 

Only recently the Marine Institute fisheries scientific team recorded two baby white skates during the annual groundfish survey while on the RV Celtic Explorer.    This was an extremely rare find as the white skate is listed as Critically Endangered.  Of the 58 cartilaginous shark, skate and ray species researched in Irish waters, over 60 percent of them are listed as a Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. 

“Sharing positive stories such as finding the white skate babies, protecting basking sharks in Irish waters, to getting involved in citizen science projects recording and photographing species, and their egg cases washed up on the seashore, enables us to have a better understanding of sharks, skates and rays and their habitats in Ireland.  This helps us all get involved in better managing and protecting our marine resource now and for the future,” Ms Dromgool-Regan explained.

“Among our resources, we are particularly delighted with our new Explorers mermaid’s purse key that is suitable for children to use in the classroom and on the shore.  It covers the top ten shark and skate cases typically found on the shores around Ireland.  The key provides lots of extra shark and skate information to encourage children to become citizen scientists, recording their egg case finds online,” she added.

The Explorers Fin-tastic Sharks+ resources can be freely downloaded from making education materials accessible for teachers.  The content includes a range of cross curricular activities where teachers and children can focus on different shark themes in class or on the seashore, developing children’s lifetime skills from STEM activities to design and communication projects! 

The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute. It is managed by Camden Education Trust and Galway Atlantaquaria. The outreach is delivered by SeashoreKids, Oceanics Surf School, Old Cork Waterworks Experience, Galway Atlantaquaria, Sea Synergy, and Leave No Trace – Ireland. For booking an outreach officer to visit your school, see for more information.


For more information, please contact:
Cushla Dromgool-Regan
Strategic Education and Communications Manager

Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme
Mobile: + 353 (0) 87 9185519