Treasures of the sea poster unveiled in Larne

(l-r) St MacNissi's primary seven pupils Yannah, Zeke and Maria with  Jo Mulholland, RSPB NI learning assistant.
(l-r) St MacNissi's primary seven pupils Yannah, Zeke and Maria with Jo Mulholland, RSPB NI learning assistant.

Primary seven pupils at a Larne school have unveiled a ‘Treasures of our Sea’ poster as part of a 12-school project centred around seabirds.

As Larne Lough is an internationally important site for seabird species – particularly roseate terns - RSPB NI has been working with primary five, six and seven pupils in schools in the area since January. The initiative is part of the five-year UK LIFE+ Roseate Tern Project.

(l-r) St MacNissi's primary seven pupils John, Aoife, Kiera (at front) and John.

(l-r) St MacNissi's primary seven pupils John, Aoife, Kiera (at front) and John.

Pupils at St MacNissi’s Primary School unveiled the poster they helped create, along with children from Cairncastle, Whitehead, Ballycarry, Glynn, Toreagh, Larne and Inver, Olderfleet, Moyle, St Anthony’s, Linn and Corran Integrated primary schools.

The schools have received a series of visits from RSPB NI to help them appreciate their marine environment and to learn why Larne Lough is such a vitally important area for seabirds. All children have been awarded a ‘Treasures of the Sea’ certificate to celebrate their participation.

Jo Mulholland, RSPB NI learning assistant, said: “This project has been so warmly embraced by all of the schools taking part and it’s a fun and engaging way for us to help children start thinking about the seabirds and the other natural treasures to be found in this part of Northern Ireland.

“We think it has helped them to appreciate all sorts of marine species and to understand what they can do to look after the environment and to give nature a home along the Antrim coast.”

The outreach programme has included teacher lesson plans, outdoor learning sessions and advice on doing practical things to help nature in their school grounds. Children also completed a home study toolkit dedicated to the natural history and treasures of Larne Lough.

Pupils from St MacNissi’s took part in the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch at the end of January and today they also branched out from the birds and took part in a minibeast hunt on the school grounds.

Roseate terns are one of the rarest breeding birds in the UK and Ireland. The entire population in 2015 was 1,714 pairs, distributed between just three colonies: Rockabill Island and Lady Island Lake in the Republic of Ireland, and Coquet Island in Northumberland. The terns spend winter on the coast of West Africa and come back to these breeding colonies in May.

The EU-funded LIFE+ Roseate Tern Project aims to safeguard all the main roseate tern colonies and provide suitable conditions for re-colonisation in places where they used to breed, including Larne Lough.