On 21 April, the Two Oceans Aquarium held a graduation ceremony for its latest class of Young Biologists – grade 10 learners who completed a series of volunteer courses, attended an eco-camp and undertook an environmental improvement action of their own.

De Beers Marine has been a long-time supporter of the Two Oceans Aquarium’s Marine Sciences Academy, and it is with pride that De Beers Marine was represented at this year’s graduation. Many of these 36 learners will go on to pursue careers in marine science and conservation – some have already contributed to almost 1500 hours of volunteer service in the Aquarium! We are proud to be able to say we were part of inspiring this generation of ocean-caring South Africans.

What was the course all about?

Back in September 2017, this class of future biologists was assembled from grade 10 learners who are passionate about the marine environment and committed to positive action. Furthermore, students who have completed this course are allowed to volunteer at the Aquarium - a big bonus for many ocean-lovers. Many applications were received - even from as far afield as Caledon and Johannesburg!

“Just want to start off by saying how awesome you guys made the camp and the whole week. The past week I learned so much and met such wonderful people, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I was given to learn from people as wonderful as the Two Oceans Aquarium education team.” – Young Biologist feedback

The course began with several days of theoretical and practical work in the Aquarium's Environmental Education Centre, covering topics from the Cape's invertebrate phyla (flatworms, sea stars, crustaceans, etc.) to marine ecosystems, such as the tiny environments inside kelp holdfasts. Lessons are hands-on, with learners having the chance to work with living creatures and receiving training in the use of equipment like digital microscopes.

These learners had the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the Aquarium and see our staff in action and learn about the types of careers available to those wanting to work with the ocean. Aquarist Marcello Antonio had much to teach about caring for jellyfish and corals, Diver Simon Leigh told them about the joys of working with animals directly underwater, Animal Health Coordinator Tersia Greenstone introduced the learners to our veterinary clinic and the procedures done there and Collections Aquarist Deen Hill taught them about going out into the ocean and working with wildlife there.

All these aquarists started their careers as Aquarium volunteers!

“I have gained so much more knowledge and my interest and passion for Marine Biology grew by a great amount. I will most definitely be volunteering as soon as possible.” – Young Biologist feedback

Armed with their new knowledge, the learners headed to an eco-camp on the Cape Peninsula to take a closer look at marine life on the Cape's rocky shores. They were tasked with studying the biotic zonation of life in their portion of the rocky shore - an introduction to scientific writing and synthesising of information.

Much more excitement was to follow - night coastal explorations, lessons in biomimicry, a beach cleanup, snorkelling in tidal pools and even a hike to investigate plant structures in fynbos.

The last night of the camp was filled with fun and team-bonding, a "camp concert" was put on by the learners, and from among themselves six representatives were nominated to lead the Student Environmental Action (SEA) Team, who would be given the job of organising beach cleanups and other environmental campaigns with the Aquarium's support during the year ahead.

“I intend on working with my community to get involved and to make them more aware of what is happening to our oceans. By showing them just by picking up a small piece of paper can make a difference. Thank you once again for this opportunity and it was truly amazing.” – Young Biologist feedback

The graduation

Head of Education Russell Stevens spoke about the roles that past Young Biologists have taken up at the Aquarium – the Aquarium’s sea turtle rehabilitation programme and its penguin habitat are both headed by previous Young Biologists, and many of our scuba divers did this course and are now making a career out of it.

But, perhaps more importantly than the skills learned is the appreciation that these learners have developed of the ocean. Young Biologist class representative Shawna Anthony said: “The sea is as close to a new world as we can come. […] But, above all, I’ve learned how to appreciate the ocean even more. It gives us everything we need to survive. […] We now need more people, especially youngsters like us, to step forward and solve the problems facing the ocean.”

Course director Kirshia Govender said that the aim of this course is to set up students at a standard where they can be prepared to educate people of all ages and background about issues affecting the ocean – regardless of whether or not the learner chooses to do this inside the Aquarium or in the outside world.

After the presentation of their certificates, and presentation of awards to the Young Biologists demonstrating exceptional service by the educators and De Beers attendees, Russell Stevens closed the ceremony by thanking those in attendance, and the staff, volunteers and previous year’s Young Biologists who contributed to making the 2018 class a brilliant and enthusiastic one.

Ending on a high note, the Two Oceans Aquarium would again like to thank De Beers Marine for their ongoing support of our education programme. As Russell often says: “If you do something, make a difference to at least one child.” We think De Beers has indeed done a lot of “somethings.”

We would like to congratulate all the 2018 graduates!

Award Recipients

Education Award:

Katelin van Blerk

Director's Award:

Abdullah Asif

Dive Awards:

Keziah Courtney
Tamryn Jade Knaap

Graduates

Diamond Certificate

The Diamond Certificate is awarded to Young Biologist graduates who start or actively participate in an eco-club, organise an environmental or beach cleanup and score 80% or over in their course assessments.

  • Sarah Cassiem
  • Zoë Charles
  • Danielle Foster
  • Aurielle Goodchild-Brown
  • Michael Hooper
  • Callen Jansen
  • Bianca Joubert
  • Danica Rapitse
  • Clare Roberts
  • Jeanné Smit
  • Shawna Anthony
  • JM Smith
  • Francesca Strydom
  • Katelin van Blerk
  • Deléne Vrey
  • Marie-Luise Zeitvogel

Gold Certificate

A Gold Certificate is awarded to Young Biologist graduates who start or actively participate in an eco-club or organise an environmental or beach cleanup, and who score 75% or over in their course assessments.

  • Zaiyaan Allie
  • M. Azhar Azeez
  • Jahan Ebrahim
  • Mustaquim Isaacs
  • Abdullah Jaffer
  • Mujaahid Jones
  • Yamkela Mavela
  • Sasha Petersen
  • Alexander Reinhold
  • Mikaeel White

Silver Certificate

The Silver Certificate is awarded to Young Biologist graduates who start or actively participate in an eco-club or organise an environmental or beach cleanup, and who score 70% or over in their course assessments.

  • Mihlali Bence
  • Rhyse Doolings
  • Jasmine Kennedy
  • Bilaal Suleiman

Bronze Certificate

A Bronze Certificate is awarded to Young Biologist graduates who complete the course and score 65% or over in their course assessments.

  • Anouk Coetzee
  • Nikho Mabale
  • Sinalo Mthathi
  • Ludwe Ntshete

More educational opportunities:

The Two Oceans Aquarium offers a variety of free courses and educational opportunities for learners from grades 6 to 12 - keep an eye on our Marine Sciences Academy for the full listing of these courses and information about how you, your friends or your children can apply.

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