The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation and Little Optimist Trust are spreading hope, healing and optimism by raising funds for sick kids and stricken sea turtles. Help us reach our goal of R150 000 for this cause - together we can achieve more.

What is this campaign all about?

Credit: Greg Beadle

In April 2016 Greg Bertish sailed an 8-foot Children’s Optimist dinghy around the Cape of Storms. He crossed False Bay, rounded Cape Point and headed for Langebaan Lagoon on the West Coast. His 200km journey matched the 200 days he had spent in hospital fighting life-threatening heart infections.

Greg, one of the greatest optimists of all, is a close friend of the Aquarium – he's a part of our family, and we're hugely inspired by the lengths he goes to in order to fulfil his deeper purpose by raising funds for non-profit organisations and aiding children in need. That's why we're so thrilled to be partnering with the Little Optimist to raise funds for sick children – and sick turtles! – by taking part in the Great Optimist Race (more below) happening on 20 October 2018 right here at the V&A Waterfront. 

For the Great Optimist Race, Greg is teaming up with several of Cape Town’s best-loved of non-profit organisations (like the NSRI, the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, and us) to raise funds for those in need, whether they be little children or little turtles.

That’s where you come in! Any donation – big or small – will make a huge difference to the lives of those who due to circumstance or illness are vulnerable, ill, and in need.

About our sick turtles

Behind the scenes of the exhibits you have come to know and love, the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa actively rescues, rehabilitates and releases stranded and distressed sea turtles as part of our broader conservation mission. With the support of an extensive network of organisations and volunteers along the Western Cape's coast, and many incredible donors, hundreds of endangered sea turtles – loggerheads, hawksbills, greens – have been saved, reared to full strength and released back into the wild.

During the winter months, turtles are swept down from the northern coast of KwaZulu-Natal (where they hatch) in the mighty Agulhas Current and are washed ashore by stormy seas. They are often extremely compromised little fighters and very weak due to dehydration and exposure to cold water.

We rescue and rehabilitate these turtles in preparation for their release back into the warm ocean. The turtles range in size from 20g up to 80kg. Rehabilitation can last more than a year, depending on the needs of each individual, as some are not only suffering from hypothermia but are also injured and require treatment.

But all of this medical treatment and dedicated TLC does not come for free. Hospitals – whether for ill children or ill baby turtles – need lots of resources to bring hope and recovery to those who need it most. It requires skilled staff, medicine, specialised tools, and a lot of grit and determination to do what we do.

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It costs R27 a day to care for a hatchling

Although tiny, the costs of raising a hatchling add up. On average, it costs R27 (about US$2) a day to care for one of these tiny animals, but an individual's care can vary greatly. Here's what R27 a day buys for a hatchling:

  • Two meals a day – pilchard, white mussel and a gel food enriched with spirulina and vitamins A, B, C, E and calcium. Sometimes this is all mixed into a delicious seafood smoothie with prawn, hake, squid and gelatine!
  • Ongoing medical care –  a range of medication is used to treat the variety of ailments afflicting these weakened arrivals. The hatchlings receive a full work-up including  X-rays, blood tests and specialist veterinary consultations. Some turtles even go to human hospitals to get MRI and CT scans!
  • Full-time staff and volunteer care
  • Sundries - maintenance of the quarantine and turtle rehabilitation facilities.

It would mean the world to us, and the Little Optimist Trust, if you were to consider making a contribution – big or small – to our life-giving work. In this way, you will be part of a wave of optimism and hope.

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All donations are tax deductible under section 18a and proceeds will be shared between the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation and the Little Optimist Trust. 

About The Great Optimist Boat Race

Greg Bertish is launching the first-ever Great Optimist Race at this year’s Cape Town International Boat Show (more below). Up to 40 Little Optimists will navigate the waters around the V&A Waterfront on 20 October, at the foot of the iconic Table Mountain, with celebrities, corporates, charities and medical survivors like Greg at the helm. We'll be sailing too - see if you can spot Nemo! All funds raised at the event will go to the Little Optimist Trust as well as the other charities participating in the race.

“Kids face tough operations and uncertainty. I hope to show them that sick people can still go on to achieve amazing things.” – Greg Bertish

Greg will also be hosting sailing lessons for the development of children from underprivileged backgrounds at the Boat Show. Additionally, as part of the lead-up to the Great Optimist Race, Greg will also be presenting a free screening of his world-renowned documentary at the V&A Waterfront’s Amphitheatre on Thursday 4 October, at 6:30pm.

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About the Cape Town International Boat Show

Now in its 18th year, the annual Cape Town International Boat show, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Mother City, is South Africa’s premier boating and luxury lifestyle event. Taking place from 19-21 October at the V&A Waterfront, expect a display of the world's finest yachts, catamarans and exotic boats; family fun and watersport activities.

Bring your family to the Boat Show and visit the Two Oceans Aquarium with one reduced-price combo ticket.

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