DEVON Wildlife Trust and the National Marine Aquarium have teamed up to provide top-class ‘marine-themed’ lessons to students from schools across Plympton and Plymstock.

The aim of the new eductation initiative is to produce a generation of Marine Wildlife Champions, trained to tackle the problems faced by our struggling seas.

100 pupils aged seven to 13 have volunteered from ten schools to become Marine Wildlife Champions.

Over the coming summer school term their task will be to learn about the wonders and diversity of local marine life and then to spread the word about the simple ways we can all help to protect and conserve it.

The pupils will learn about issues facing our seas in the 21st century.

These issues include the problems that plastic pollution, climate change and pollution from land are posing to the world’s sealife.

But the message is definitely not one of doom and gloow as pupils are also learning about how these problems can be tackled.

In the coming weeks the project will help them work on solutions including the development of Marine Protected Areas (marine nature reserves), ways to reduce pollution and the move to more sustainable fishing practices.

The pupils’ training as Marine Wildlife Champions began recently with a ‘beach-conference’ held outside on a sunny spring day.

The beach in question was at Wembury, near Plymouth. Here the students received an inspirational address on the wealth and beauty of wildlife that still exists in our seas from local marine biologist and top marine photographer Paul Naylor.

Pupils then went in search of wildlife taking part in a rockpool ramble led by staff from Devon Wildilfe Trust’s Wembury Marine Centre. Amongst their many finds were a Bloody Henry starfish – a relatively rare rockpool find.

The day finished with a series of workshops where pupils decided on the next steps they needed to take to help their local marine wildlife.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Education Officer Paul Martin organised the day and said: “We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the students and their desire to make a difference for marine wildlife.

"It has been a spectacular success and I am really looking forward to hearing about their projects as they make a real difference for local wildlife.”

The Marine Wildlife Champions will next meet at Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium on 19 June to discuss the the outcomes of their actions for the local marine environment.

The National Marine Aquarium have helped fund the initiative, its Director of Conservation and Communication Paul Cox said: “We’re very pleased to be working alongside Devon Wildlife Trust to find the next generation of Wildlife Champions.

"The messages being taught through the training sessions are so important to the future of our marine environment – it’s a great initiative to be part of. We look forward to welcoming the students to the Aquarium in June for the next stage of the programme. ”

The full list of schools taking part in the project is: Coombe DeanPrimary School, Ridgeway Longcause Primary School, Glen Park Primary School, Old Priory Primary School, Plympton St Maurice Primary School, Hooe Primary School, Oreston Primary School, Wembury Primary School, Goosewell Primary School.