Gloucester youth take part in a Rotary's Youth Marine program in Coffs Harbour

Bailey Hughes and Jack Blamires take their marine and aquaculture technology studies out of the classroom. Photo Anne Keen

Bailey Hughes and Jack Blamires take their marine and aquaculture technology studies out of the classroom. Photo Anne Keen

When offered the opportunity to take part in four day program about marine science, Gloucester's Bailey Hughes and Jack Blamires thought it would be fun. Which makes sense, since both have taken an interest in the topic while undertaking marine and aquaculture technology studies at Gloucester High School.

The offer came from the Rotary Club of Gloucester to sponsor the pair in attending the annual District 9560 Rymarine held from Thursday, October 24 to Sunday, October 27 in Coffs Harbour. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour Daybreak, 20 youth spent the weekend engaging with range activities focused on the marine environment.

Among the long list of activities, the boys experienced an introduction to scuba diving, were able to snorkel around the Solitary Islands Marine Park, and spent time at the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park. But it wasn't just fun and games, Bailey and Jack also met with officers at marine patrol and hung out in the classrooms of Southern Cross University.

They learned about the impact global warming has on the oceans and what type of jobs there are for people interested in marine studies. It was an eye-opening experience for both of them, not realising the range of careers available.

Jack said he'd always been interested in marine but hadn't thought about it as a career path.

"Seeing the university and the options available has changed my interest in the field," Jack said.

Although Bailey was already pretty keen on marine studies as a future pathway, he said he now has a better idea of what kind of things can be studied in university.

"It shed new light on what I want to do when I leave school," Bailey said.

Being in year nine (Bailey) and year 10 (Jack), neither has yet taken part in an university excursion, so this was the first time they were able to step inside one.

On the last night of the program, the group was treated to a presentation by joint 2019 Australian of the Year, Dr Richard Harris (shared with Craig Challen), known for their involvement in the Tham Luang cave rescue in Thailand last year.

"It was incredible the length of time he was underwater; three hours in and three hours out with zero viability," Bailey recalled.

Both were in awe of the tale Dr Harris retold, especially considering cave diving is only a hobby for the professional anaesthetist.

Now comes the hard part for Jack and Bailey, who both admit to being fairly shy; they have been asked to do a speech about the experience at the Gloucester Rotary meeting on Tuesday, November 12. Only thing left is for them to write the speech and work up the courage to present it.