You may soon have a chance to take a close look at some local marine animals without having to take up scuba-diving, thanks to a new World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) conservation project. WWF Hong Kong will be bringing a selection of marine treasures, dubbed the 'Ocean's 10', to local students in the coming school term. They include brain coral, green turtles, horseshoe crabs, mudskippers and purple sea urchins. WWF Hong Kong hopes that through this project young people will learn about the importance and urgency of environmental conservation and, in particular, about issues such as environmental degradation, unsustainable harvesting and pollution. The 10 ocean treasures were picked not only because they are found locally, but also because of their distinctiveness and because they represent a range of different habitats and conservation concerns. For example, although green turtles, which can be found nesting at Sham Wan on Lamma Island, are protected by local by-laws, they still face major threats from hunting, habitat destruction and disturbance of their nesting areas. And green turtles are not the only threatened species. Eric Bohm, WWF Hong Kong's chief executive, stresses that all marine resources in Hong Kong are under threat from over-fishing, pollution, dredging and other human activities that are detrimental to the marine habitat. 'We have an obligation to ensure that we stop harming our surroundings. WWF believes that one essential ingredient in the conservation mix is education. It is only through educating children and adults that we can conserve and preserve our world,' he says. To help convey this serious message in a more light-hearted and memorable way, the Ocean's 10 project has teamed up with the Hong Kong Youth Arts Festival to include some creative components such as a visual arts programme in which primary school students will use the shapes and colours of the 10 species to create art works. There will also be a theatre programme in which secondary school students will learn through an interactive play about the selected species, their habitats and how to protect them. Each of the 10 species will be portrayed as a character with its own personality. For an instance, the spiny purple sea urchin will be depicted as a rebellious boy with a punk hair-do. The project will last for three years. The theatre and visual arts programme will run during the first year only, from November this year to March 2006. The organisers then plan to launch new programmes for the following two school years. WWF Hong Kong will be sending information about the project to all local schools in the next few months. A hundred places on the visual and theatre arts programmes will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis. For more details, call 2526 1011.