24 hours, 2 atmospheres of pressure, over 100 scuba divers and a whole lot of fun - that just about sums up Diver24, the massive undertaking of the University of Cape Town's Underwater Club to raise funds for turtle conservation.
For an entire 24 hour period, from the morning of Saturday 24 March to Sunday 25 March 2018, teams of scuba divers from the UCT Underwater Club took turns to man the underwater world of our I&J Ocean Exhibit. Was this for fun? Yes. Was it to show how awesome scuba diving is? Certainly. But, was there a greater purpose behind this? Definitely...
Diver24 is an annual awareness and fundraising event run by the UCT Underwater Club, and once again the Two Oceans Aquarium invited the Club to use our venue. The Club rotated their divers on an hourly roster, keeping the rays, turtles, musselcrackers and giant guitarfish company throughout the night.
The Club selected the Aquarium's turtle rescue, rehabilitation and release programme as the beneficiary of this year's Diver24 event. It goes without saying that we are incredibly grateful for their generosity, and are more than pleased to have had the opportunity to further nurture a love of the ocean in these intrepid marine explorers.
Working with the UCT Underwater Club was fantastic (thanks for making our jobs so easy). Once again we called on Aquarist Simon Leigh (who you might recognise as our talking diver) to pull an all-nighter, briefing the Club's divemasters and keeping everyone's cylinders refilled (no small task when you're dealing with over 100 divers)!
Late into Saturday night, long after the Aquarium was closed to the public, the divers and guests who were sleeping over, in front of the I&J Ocean Exhibit, had a visit from Conservation Coordinator Talitha Noble, who taught them what to if they ever found a stranded turtle, and how the rehab centre turtles actually end up at the Aquarium - quite a relevant lesson, as these divers were sharing the water with two of these turtles, Bob and Sandy.
With their cause in mind, the UCT Underwater Club never once came close to giving up...
In fact, their spirits were high throughout the night, even as the clock passed midnight!
It might have had something to do with all their new underwater friends (even those that liked eating GoPro's - we're looking at you Mr Grumpy).
Or the ongoing support of all those that came to the Aquarium to support the Diver24 team.
Whatever their secret weapon, these students truly pulled off the ultimate all-nighter!
But soon, the end drew near. Diver24 was reaching its final hour.
Finally, the clock struck 11AM on Sunday - their task was complete! Diver24 had pulled off their mammoth task - again! Well done to all involved!
Thank you UCT Underwater Club for your incredible support of South African sea turtle conservation efforts.