Heading to the beach with kids? In this article, Dr Noirin Burke, Education Officer at Galway Atlantaquaria, tells us fun things to do on the beach with kids and gives tips on how you can introduce marine science to your child:
I have always loved the sea. As a child I grew up in Co. Tipperary and will never forget the competition of who would be the first to see the sea as we drove into Tramore on our summer holidays.
Some things never change and even as an adult who has lived in Galway for over 4 years I still delight in looking at the sea. As a child, the sea and the seashore provided so many wonderful delights. A walk along the beach while the tide is out can provide numerous treasures, such as beautiful empty shells and mermaids purses.
The question is how you introduce your child to this marine wonderland? My answer would be: try a trip to the seashore.
Although the seashore can be a wonderful place to visit, it can also be a dangerous environment and as a parent there are a few things worth considering before you head down there.
#1. Check the Tides
The tides and the types of seashore you’re visiting is always something worth knowing beforehand. The tide tables in the local newspaper will tell you when low tide is (look for the lowest reading in meters) and at what time. Try to pick a day when this figure is at its lowest, and head to the beach an hour before low tide.
#2. Dress Appropriately
Make sure to dress appropriately and wear the right footwear (wellies are great). Bring your mobile phone and know where the closest toilet is! If there is lots of shiny green seaweed, take care, this can be very slippery.
#3. Bring a good guide
When you get to the beach, try to have fun. The best way to learn about the seashore is to develop a love and respect for it. It is really hard to always know what everything is on the beach, so bring along a good seashore guide or key.
The Sherkin Island seashore book A Beginner’s Guide to Ireland’s Seashore is really good and available online or in good bookshops.
#4. Try to look for a couple of different animals.
- Can you find an empty seashell, if you can, how many different types can you find?
- Can you find some washed up seaweed; again how many types can you find?
- Can you find some fish, and if so, how many?
- For younger children, how many colours and shapes can you see on the shore, try drawing some pictures, and for the older and wiser, ask them what impact humans can have on the seashore and how would they try to protect it.
#5. Always Return Things
Try to remember the seashore guide; if you turn over a rock always put it back the right way, and only bring photos or empty shells home with you. Always return animals to where you found them and don’t keep them out of the water too long, and don’t pull live seaweed off the rocks.
There is something for everyone at the seashore and developing a love and respect for it in your children is something they will have with them for the rest of their lives. As people who live in an island nation, a passion for the sea is vital in all of us to protect the world around us.
So finally, what do you do if it starts raining when you’re at the seashore? Well heading for the car is always a good opinion, and maybe a cup of hot chocolate, and if you’re in Galway, why not head for the aquarium, where you can watch and learn about lot of Ireland’s marine life in and out of the rain.
Dr Noirin Burke is Education Officer for Galway Atlantaquaria and coordinates the children’s workshops that run throughout the year.
Have you enjoyed time at the seashore? Tell us about it in the comments section below.