These are the stories that put smiles on our faces during September - giving us ocean optimism, the excitement of knowing there is still plenty to be discovered and the gratitude for being able to share the planet with awesome people that share our passion for conservation. Here are our top pieces of uplifting ocean news from the past month, from Cape Town and beyond.

 

South African schools to get Marine Science subject

After years of ambitious work by the Two Oceans Aquarium's team of educators, Marine Sciences has been developed as an official subject of the South African high school curriculum. This subject will include broad topics such as marine biology, oceanography, environmental sustainability and human-ocean interactions. It will serve as a gateway to a career in marine science or conservation, or simply develop an appreciation of our ocean in the next generation of South Africans.

“The department has been working with the Two Oceans Aquarium to develop a maritime sciences curriculum from 2017. The intention of this curriculum is to expand the offering of maritime studies subjects. This draft curriculum was submitted to Umalusi for evaluation in March 2018. The Two Oceans Aquarium has developed a number of maritime-related programmes. ” – Angie Motshekga, South African Minister of Basic Education

Our Education Team has been hard at work developing this new syllabus for the benefit of all South Africans, somehow finding the time to do so, in addition to directly educating the tens of thousands of children they work with each year. Truly our team of superheroes.

Ambitious Ocean Cleanup project was successfully launched

The Ocean Cleanup is a massive but controversial project to use floating booms in the ocean to collect huge amounts of floating plastic pollution from the ocean gyre. We've written about this ambitious project before, but we are pleased to announce that System 001, the first stage of the project to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, has been launched and is currently undergoing ocean trials.

First gulper eel "gulping" ever caught on video

The team of the EV Nautilus, a marine exploration vessel of the Ocean Exploration Trust, caught an amazing moment on film with one of their robotic submarines. We've known about gulper eels for a long time - small eels that use their pelican-like expandable jaws to scoop up prey, but this is the first time their behaviour has ever been caught on camera.

Biggest Trash Bash ever!

Whether you call 15 September International Coastal Cleanup Day or World Cleanup day, one thing is certain - a huge difference was made globally by millions of volunteers. Here are some of the achievements of local cleanup efforts:

Credit: Matthew Orolowitz

Oldest hashtag (#NoJokes) found in SA coastal cave

“Seventy-three thousand years ago, an early human in what is now South Africa picked up a piece of ocher and used it to scratch a hashtag-like mark onto a piece of stone.” – National Geographic

In the Western Cape's Blombos Cape, the oldest drawing ever made by a human was discovered by a team of scientists studying artefacts in the hopes of uncovering more details about the emergence of modern humankind. This drawing, a deliberate scratching of a dark red iron-rich pigment called ochre onto a paler rock called silcrete, is more than 30 000 years older than any previously discovered human drawing.

Credit: Craig Foster/National Geographic

Blaauwberg first to receive WESSA's Green Coast Award

The local Blaauwberg Nature Reserve just became the first in South Africa to receive the WESSA Green Coast Award. Operating since 2007, the reserve has been recognised for meeting the high standards laid out by WESSA - encouraging local government to invest in their sensitive beach areas and promote sustainable tourism. Well done Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, Friends of BCA and City of Cape Town for this incredible achievement!

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