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Knowledge is Power

Cor Hameete and his colleagues at CARMABI’s Marine Education Center in Willemstad, Curaçao, welcome almost 2000 school children each year and introduce them to the island’s marine flora and fauna. Now, because the CARMABI team has translated SECORE’s kids comic into Dutch and Papiamentu, the kids will be able to explore the reefs of Towabonga too.


Girls and boys cheer on CARMABI’s pier while visiting the Marine Biological Research Station in Willemstad, Curaçao. (CARMABI education)

Cor, what are the questions that children ask you most often when they visit CARMABI's Marine Education Center?

At CARMABI almost 2000 schoolchildren visit our Marine Education Program every year. They come with their school classes and are between 9 and 12 years old. The elementary school children are most interested in individual animal species. They want to know: Is a coral alive? Do sharks sleep? Why do turtles eat plastic? The students from high school are more interested in the whole ecosystem. They ask for example: What is the consequence for the food chain on the coral reef if we destroy all Mangroves?

Over the years, I have noticed a positive change in children’s knowledge. Due to the internet, they see (parts of) videos of the beauty of wildlife all over the world and the constant need to protect it. As a part of our Education department and as a teacher at a local high school, I also see an increase in students interested in studying marine biology or comparable fields of study. So, for Curaçao, I really have hope our knowledge of environmental challenges and appropriate actions will improve.


Elkhorn coral Al Moose is right: The comic magazine is now available in Dutch and Papiamentu too. (Bernhard Speh/SECORE International)


What was your motivation to translate the comic and make it available on Curaçao?

It’s a challenge to find educationally correct and interesting material for different age groups with a link to our own local Caribbean environment. The research station of CARMABI is working together with SECORE’s research scientists on Curaçao, so we already use the videos from SECORE in our Educational Program and in our center. When we saw the comic in the English version, we wanted a Dutch and Papiamentu version and helped SECORE as best as we could to make this happen. The comic is a perfect addition to our outreach on the island. 


How are you going to use it?

We are planning a comic launch-event in a local bookstore for the beginning of next year, together with Dr. Valérie Chamberland and Kelly Latijnhouwers from SECORE. They will have their microscope, coral larvae, and information sheets. We will also give printed copies of the comic to our local library and to the elementary schools of Curacao. And in the same week, all school children visiting the Marine Education Program will get a copy too. For funding this project, we will be selling copies of the comic (2 languages Dutch and Papiamentu) in the bookstore and in our Marine Education Center.


Cor Hameete is the coordinator of CARMABI’s Marine Education Program. He and his colleagues translated the SECORE comic magazine into Dutch and Papiamentu, the latter a language spoken by more than 250 000 locals on Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. (CARMABI Education)

Speaking from your long-term experience: What difference can knowledge about the reef and the ocean make?

To understand the problems of our waste (sewer, plastic, etc.) and our influence on our environment, you have to understand how nature works and how it is connected with and dependent on their surroundings. The comic book is a way to let children and adults understand the complexity and beauty of our fragile marine life. You can only enjoy your local environment and appreciate nature if you understand how it works. Knowledge is power! 

In our Marine Education Center, we give presentations to all age-groups on marine topics. With iPads, the children have to do a scavenger hunt through the center. With our Virtual Reality glasses, our visitors can get to know our marine life, as if they are swimming through a coral reef, without getting their feet wet. These are activities – besides our presentations and stories we tell – to inform the public. We want to give objective scientific information for all age levels, so everyone can distinguish the real situation from fake news.


Cor, we thank you and your team for translating Coral Heroes into Dutch and Papiamentu and being part of letting the Heroes travel around the world!


All seven different versions of our kids comic “Coral Heroes – Adventures on the Reefs of Towabonga” can be found here. We provide a low-resolution web-version of the magazine and a high-resolution print version for those who want to hand-out paper copies to print the magazine at their own cost.

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Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
California Academy of Science
The Nature Conservancy

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