New Zealand schoolchildren are being taught to snorkel in marine reserves as part of a program to raise awareness of, and appreciation for, the country’s marine biodiversity. The snorkeling program, in operation since 2002, has worked with more than 7000 primary (elementary) school students so far. It is offered by the Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) program of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust, supported by the NZ Department of Conservation. The EMR program serves to generate community support for the designation of MPAs.

“Marine reserves do a great job of inspiring our students into action,” says Program Director Samara Nicholas. Examples of actions that students have led after their snorkel experience include fundraisers for conservation, letters to politicians, beach monitoring surveys, and more. For more information on the program, go to and