Secrets of the Sea project is a social responsibility project that primarily aims to introduce the sea to children to have them love, respect and protect it.
For years, I have been making books and documents with my underwater photographs to share the amazing stories of the underwater creatures with people.
One day, I was in the conference hall of a primary school in front of nearly four hundred primary school students. I began to talk about the hosts of the underwater world, accompanied by photographs. They were all listening to me in astonishment and with great attention, exclaiming in some photos and immediately falling silent when I began to talk. Not only their teachers but I was also surprised by their attention and interest.
A couple of the students came to ask me questions after the presentation. “Why is the sea blue?” cried one student. Another was pulling at my jacket, asking “Do fish talk?” “Do fish sleep?” “Why is sea water salty?” “Do fish drink water? They don’t, do they?”
It was the day when the foundations were laid for “Secrets of the Sea”. Here was the way to introduce the underwater world to children, which was my biggest ambition. I was going to reveal the secrets of the underwater via questions & answers.
For this aim, I made a book titled “Secrets of the Sea in 50 Questions”. This book includes the answers to 50 different questions that will intrigue every child, even adults, along with my underwater photographs. Why is the sea water salty? Do fish drink water? Do fish sleep? How many sharks do we kill a year and why? Do fish have ears? Which creature has the largest eyes in the world? Why is the sea blue? Do fish have hair? Is there any doctor under the water? How do fish swim? Why do lobsters migrate? Do fish speak? Do squids live on the next generations by dying? What is the biggest fish in the world? Why does not anemone poison the anemonefish? Which male sea creature gives birth? These are few of the interesting questions that you will find in this book.
I conducted the first step of the project with Forum shopping malls. We placed 50 question panels in Forum Shopping Malls in 7 cities. I asked children who took a question card to find these panels, read and learn the answers, and answer the questions on the card. Every child who answered the questions correctly was presented a book free. This way, I could give 20.000 children our free books.
In Bursa Zoo, I organized a building as Turkey’s first “Interactive Underwater Educational Museum”. In this project supported by Bursa Metropolitan Municipality, children entering this building found themselves in a dimly lit setting as if under the water, and could read these questions and answers on the light panels on the walls alongside the photographs. There were also slide shows with photographs from Turkey waters, tropical waters and Marmara Sea as well as 3D presentations of photographs that could be seen as three dimensional through special masks. In three touchscreen computers in the middle of the hall, they could answer 5 questions, and everyone who answered all of them correctly would be given a book immediately. This way, we presented books to 10.000 children.
Yet my actual goal was to send this book free to children in Eastern Anatolia who never saw the sea. After 2 years spent in vain pursuing sponsors, instead of giving up or finding a single sponsor, I decided to initiate a social responsibility project for the general population. I prepared a websitewww.denizinsirlari.org . When people ordered one book for themselves, they were going to order at least 2 books for the children in the east. At a cost of 5 TL per book, children who had never seen the sea before would be informed, reading the book that had come to them for free, and begin to understand the sea. Supporters could only get their books upon invoice from the website of www.denizinsirlari.org, and teachers working in the east could request books for their schools via the same website. All supporters were published transparently with the number of books they supported and their names as well as the names of the schools the books were sent, the photographs sent by the teachers, and the emotional letters sent by our children. In the first 6 months of the project, 23.000 children received gift books from our supporters. The goal is to send these books to at least 100.000 children. We expect the supports of every sea-lover via our website. We also expect the municipalities, private sector, and certainly our state to support the project.