Ingrid Sinclair is the Two Oceans Aquarium Online Content Executive.
24 hours. 92 divers. Awesome. That about sums up our sentiments about the Diver24 scuba event that the UCT Underwater Club hosted at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 March 2017.
Diver24 is an annual fundraising event, and usually the Aquarium donates tickets as part of the evening’s prizes. But this year we wanted to do more, so we invited the Club to use us as their venue instead. Usually they rotate scuba divers on an hourly basis in their dive pool on campus. This time, they had the rays, turtles, musselcracker and guitar fish of the I&J Ocean Exhibit keeping them company through the night.
The UCT Underwater Club selected the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) as the beneficiaries of the Diver24 event this year. Needless to say, we could think of few better choices than these two remarkable organisations, overwhelmingly supported by volunteers (just like us), which make such a huge impact on the lives of people and animals in the City of Cape Town and beyond, and which also assist us in several of our key activities, like looking after baby penguins and safeguarding our collections team when we’re out at sea.
That’s why we decided we simply had to get in on the action, and so, to kick off the Diver24 event, we did our own underwater handover of donations to SANCCOB and the NSRI.
After closing time, the UCT Underwater Club invited their members to sleep over at the Aquarium – usually a privilege reserved for our members – in order to raise a little bit extra for this exceptional cause.
SANCCOB Marketing and Fundraising Officer Ronnis Daniels and NSRI Drowning Prevention Manager Andrew Ingram came in to chat to the students about the joys (and the hazards) of their jobs, while Two Oceans Aquarium Curator Maryke Musson offered insights into the workings of the I&J Ocean Exhibit and its animals, as well as our future plans with the new shark exhibit (coming soon … watch this space!)
The UCT Underwater Club made our jobs very easy. Aquarist, turtle whisperer and talking diver Simon Leigh refilled cylinders until late into the night (around 11pm), and this long-suffering writer made it to bed (in her curator’s office) at about 2am. When we awoke from our fitful slumber (did you know that the seagulls at the V&A Waterfront never sleep?!) the intrepid divers were still going at it with smiles on their faces. Simon’s refill duties commenced at 6am.
A huge thank you from all of us at the Two Oceans Aquarium to everyone at the UCT Underwater Club for taking on this extreme, and extremely awesome, mission. We had a lot of fun. A particular shout out to Raquel Flynn, Jessica Arro, Marianne Putz, Cameron Russell and Jason Dion - and the countless others - for keeping the ball rolling backstage.
Check out all the pictures of the day, and night, and day, below.