International training course "Save Our Seas (SOS)" by Association Argonauta

From the 1st to 9th of September, Murter was the center of the main activity of the "SOS - Save Our Seas" project. The main aim of this international sea-environment training course was to improve skills and competences of 28 participants from Europe who will later act as youth trainers and spread awareness and knowledge about the importance of marine ecosystems to young people in their communities.

Association Argonauta organised an international training course Save Our Seas (SOS), which was held in Murter from 1st to 9th of September 2017. The international training course brought together 28 marine enthusiasts from Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Latvia and Croatia, who have exchanged experiences and views connected to the topic of marine environment, and it mixed formal (actual facts, scientific methods, research) with non-formal education (e.g. games, presentations, workshops).

The training course aimed to improve the skills and competences of all participants so that they can continue to work as young trainers in the future and to become specialists in the transfer of knowledge, skills and competences; they will encourage members of several communities to successfully deal with challenges that seas and oceans are facing today.

The nine-days program was designed to provide participants with a variety of approaches to non-formal education at an experiential level that could be used in their work. Through various games, presentations and workshops, the participants were introduced in a variety of non-formal education methods. As ultimate outcome, participants shared experience, gained knowledge, creativity and created 6 workshops related to the importance of marine environment.

Since the best way of learning is learning from your own experiences, participants had to calculate the carbon footprint created by their own arrival in Croatia and the imprint of food they ate for lunch. They also needed to check the composition of some items, whether the materials could be replaced or recycled and whether they were existing 100 years ago.
Participants also created the "Ecological Collage" in which they presented environmental problems that they face in their countries and associated them with problems on a global scale. With the method of "systems thinking" they were recommended to always pay attention to the "bigger picture" behind each problem, instead of focusing on the parts.

With systems thinking method, presented by the "Iceberg model", participants explored topics like unsustainable fisheries, global warming and pollution and went deeper in searching for patterns, structures and mental models that lead to the global issues we are nowadays dealing with.

Furthermore, participants had the opportunity to see how scientific methods can be adapted and used in popularization of science in order to invite wider public to be more concerned about the marine environment. Participants were introduced to the scientific method (underwater visual census method) and they needed to find differences in composition, number and size of marine organisms in unprotected (beach Slanica) and protected areas (NP Kornati). The participants were surprised that anchoring in NP Kornati was allowed, which is particularly harmful for the marine meadow of Posidonia and the potential spread of invasive algae.

Through various games, participants explored the impact of tourism on the marine environment and the coastal area in Murter; they also find out the problems that locals are facing with. In particular, participants noticed houses with unfinished facades, contaminated underwater in the harbor, too many ships in Hramina harbor, no water drainage and sewerage systems, buildings that ruin the landscape and construction on Slanica beach, which is overcrowded.

In nine-days program we emphasized the idea that our seas are part of us, and not never-ending resources that are here just to provide us a better life. We hope that participants will expand their knowledge, organise local actions, bring changes and ultimately convince more people to listen to the sound of seas that silently scream - SOS!