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.
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:
- The Two Oceans Aquarium's Trash Bash at Sunset Beach was attended by more than 500 volunteers who collected 174kg of trash - our most successful Trash Bash yet!
- The Shoprite Group's Act For Change initiative received 12 000 volunteers at 250 affiliated cleanups across 12 African countries.
- 885 volunteers joined Coca-Cola Beverages SA at 14 cleanups, from Muizenberg to Soweto, and managed to fill 1994 bags with trash.
Oldest hashtag (#NoJokes) found in SA coastal cave
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.
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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