Children have a whale of a time at Portsmouth International Port

An aerial view of the Solent airfield. Picture by Shaun Roster

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THEY may be only inflatable models, but youngsters were nevertheless amazed by these creatures of the deep.

Pupils from Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School in North End, Portsmouth, were among the first to see life-sized copies of whales, dolphins, sharks, tortoises and porpoises at Portsmouth International Port.

Pupils from Corpus Christie Catholic Primary School visited Portsmouths Continental Ferry Port to see a selection of life size models of sharks and whales. (left to right), Freya Latham (eight), Elsie Elley (seven), and Milli Gebremarium (eigfht).'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150230-1) PPP-151102-163738003

Pupils from Corpus Christie Catholic Primary School visited Portsmouths Continental Ferry Port to see a selection of life size models of sharks and whales. (left to right), Freya Latham (eight), Elsie Elley (seven), and Milli Gebremarium (eigfht).'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150230-1) PPP-151102-163738003

The display marks the start of a four-day marine wildlife festival run by marine charity Orca, which is based at the port.

Orca director Sally Hamilton said: ‘The idea is to get people interested in the wonders of the marine environment.

‘People often don’t realise that there is such a wide variety of species right on our doorstep.’

Corpus Christi pupil William O’Shae, eight, said he found out something new. ‘I learned that dolphins always keep their brains half-awake,’ he said.

Classmate Jane Pearce-Biney, nine, said she learned something at the festival.

‘When people put plastic bags into the water, some animals think they are jellyfish and they can eat them and suffocate with them in their throat,’ she said.

Port manager Martin Putman said the Portsmouth had become a gateway for people wanting to see ocean creatures.

He said there were 6,700 recorded sightings from ferries travelling to or from the port last year.

‘Dolphins and porpoises are the most common,’ he said.

Mr Putman said the festival had an important environmental message.

‘Unless we’re aware of what’s around us it’s easy for them to disappear from view forever,’ he said.

The festival is part of a two-year Your Seas, People and Port programme run by Orca, which aims to teach Portsmouth schools, businesses and community groups about marine conservation through talks, events and training sessions.

The models will be at the port until Saturday.