What a year 2019 has been! Incredible animal rescues, farewells, awards, amazing people and amazing discoveries - it's hard to describe how proud we are of everything that has been achieved this year, and how much we are looking forward to a 2020 filled with even more excitement. Here are a few of our favourite stories from the past 365 days:

New penguins join the family

2019 saw four new penguins joining our family - beautiful African penguins Flippy and Jaime, and the too cute rockhoppers Jasmin and EL! All four of these newcomers have made the Two Oceans Aquarium colony their home and definitely stole our hearts.

Welcome Flippy and Jaime!

Our seal-rescue ninjas

Our Seal Monitors work outside of the spotlight, but every day they are roaming the V&A Waterfront and Cape Town Harbour tracking seals and seabirds that need our help, particularly those that have become entangled in discarded fishing line. Earlier this year, the team proved their mettle when a particularly strong rope couldn't be cut off of a seal's neck with their usual tools and the team needed to think fast to free the seal before it could escape into deep waters:

Brand new microscope

The Microscope Exhibit in the Skretting Diversity Gallery got an exciting overhaul in 2019. A brand new Leica microscope has brought the ocean's tiniest treasures to light in beautiful high resolution - definitely a new favourite interactive exhibit.

red chested sea cucumbe eating

Our 24th birthday

We turned 24 this year! And to celebrate, we thanked our longest serving staff members, including Vince Calder who has been working here for 25 years (that's right - he's been here longer than the Aquarium has).

25 years ago, Vincent started working at the Two Oceans Aquarium. As an aquarist at first, which the attached picture demonstrates, and then as the Technical Manager. His dedication and contribution to the Aquarium, especially the staff, has been immense. Long may it continue! (That's Vincent on the right, together with some of the Aquarium's earliest staff).

Anette's ghost net rescue

Back in July, our Curator Maryke Musson got the chance to assist the NSRI in freeing a seal and loggerhead turtle that had both become tangled in the same abandoned fishing net at Noordhoek Beach. Miraculously, both animals survived and despite a very slow recovery, Anette the turtle is doing well - showing members of the public her bubble butt while she heals in the I&J Ocean Exhibit.

Credit: Maryke Musson/Two Oceans Aquarium

Rediscovering the pink meanie

In 2017, we made history by becoming the first institution to recover and describe a living specimen of the pink meanie jellyfish - a South African jelly so rare it doesn't even have a scientific name yet! Then, in July this year, we accidentally caught another one of these elusive animals! 

The chaotic mass that is the pink meanie may look ungainly, but this is possibly one of the most efficient predators on the planet.

The Aquarium's pink meanie wasn't the only one spotted around Cape Town in 2019, with several divers sighting them in our waters. This begs the question, will the pink meanie return in 2020?

Sunfish flying to freedom

2019 has been the year of the sunfish. Many of these awkward-looking, yet gentle ocean giants found their way into Cape Town's waters, getting themselves trapped in our harbour, drydocks and marinas. The Aquarium has been involved in the rescue of many of these Mola mola, returning them to deeper waters after collecting a small DNA sample for research. If we had to pick a favourite rescue - it would definitely be the flying sunfish we lifted out with a crane!

It is amazing to think that even a "large" ocean sunfish like this is still very small compared to the size it will eventually grow to. Credit: Maryke Musson/Two Oceans Aquarium

Best Responsible attraction in Africa

It's always nice to have bragging rights - and 2019 the Two Oceans Aquarium definitely earned them! At the 2019 African Responsible Tourism Awards, we were announced the "Best Responsible Attraction" and also picked up a silver for "Best Global Goals Reporting." Woop woop!

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom, Two Oceans Aquarium Marketing Manager Ingrid Sinclair, and MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Beverley Schäfer

Winning the City Nature Challenge

And, of course, Cape Town also earned it's bragging rights by claiming the top spot in the International City Nature Challenge, proving that even in the middle of winter we still have more biodiversity to share than anywhere else on the planet! (Keep an eye on our channels for info about the 2020 challenge and how to be part of it).

Unleashing the hatchlings

And last, but certainly not least, we got to bid farewell to 194 turtles that were successfully rescued, rehabilitated and released - our most successful year of turtle rescues ever!

Thank you for making 2019 an amazing year. We're looking forward to even more ocean adventures with you in 2020!

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