Today, 22 May 2012, is the United Nations International Day for Biodiversity. According to Kennedy Warne, a journalist for National Geographic, “the whole South African coast – from the coral reefs of the Indian Ocean to the kelp beds of the Atlantic – is one of the richest, most biologically diverse and most oceanographically complex marine environments on Earth”.
Last week, we shared this article, written by Two Oceans Aquarium Communications and Sustainability Manager Helen Lockhart, which takes an in-depth look at South Africa’s two oceans and the life these oceans support underneath and above the waves.
Safe to say, South Africa’s marine environment is a jewel in our country’s biodiversity crown – let’s all take a moment today to really appreciate the depth and breadth of its influence on our lives (whether we’re coastal dwellers or not).
How much life in the sea?
“From 2000 to 2010, an unprecedented worldwide collaboration by scientists around the world set out to try and determine how much life is in the sea. Dubbed the ‘Census of Marine Life’, the effort involved 2 700 scientists from over 80 nations, who participated in 540 expeditions around the world. They studied surface seawater and probed the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean, sailed tropical seas and explored ice-strewn oceans in the Arctic and Antarctic.
“By the time the census ended, it had added 1 200 species to the known roster of life in the sea; scientists are still working their way through another 5 000 specimens to determine whether they are also newly discovered species.
“The estimate of the number of known marine species – the species that have been identified and the ones that have been documented but await classification – has increased as a direct result of the census efforts, and is now around 250 000. (This total does not include some microbial life forms such as marine viruses.)
“In its final report, the census team suggested it could be at least a million. Some think the figure could be twice as high.”
More life than you can shake a fish at!
Experience the two oceans
Come through to the Two Oceans Aquarium to experience the two oceans for yourself. Our species and exhibits are organised according to the Indian and Atlantic oceans, plus we have some above-water friends, too. Then sit back and admire the waving fronds in the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit – one of only three exhibits of its kind in the world – and the rays, sharks and turtles in the I&J Predator Exhibit.
Tickets are discounted online – click here to buy now.