Nicholas Stevens is an Administration Assistant in the Environmental Education Centre of the Two Oceans Aquarium who recently enjoyed his first Ocean Experience. Nicholas lives with blindness, this was an opportunity to meet two of the Aquarium's iconic sea turtles in person.
I recently had the amazing opportunity to experience being up close with Bob and Sandy in the Aquarium's medical pool. It took a lot of planning and preparation with Conservation Co-ordinator Talitha Noble, but I finally was able to schedule a date for my Ocean Experience.
The moment I had been waiting for for months finally arrived. Talitha and I met at around 10:45 to get ourselves prepared for the Ocean Experience. Talitha started off by showing me the wetsuit and booties I would be wearing. She then led me to the changing area. It was my first time wearing a wetsuit - it was not as difficult to climb into and out of the wetsuit as I had initially anticipated. It was foreign to me, but was easy enough.
A short while later we headed to the medical pool above the I&J Ocean Exhibit. I waited for Talitha on the side of the pool while she lowered a bench into the pool and assisted me to get in. I was surprised by how pleasantly warm the water was - 23 degrees Celsius. We had barely entered the pool when we were greeted by Bob, followed a short while later by Sandy.
Bob is a green turtle, who I am told experiences blindness, but fortunately is starting to see visually in one of his eyes again. Sandy is a female green turtle who is recovering from a horrible experience at the Breede River mouth where a boat's propeller blade cut into her carapace.
It was an amazing experience to get to touch both Bob and Sandy - they both have such smooth shells and soft skin. Sandy let me touch her scar and I could feel where the original wound was and how the skin is growing back.
Bob really enjoyed having a scratch on his back. In fact he was even trying to get onto the bench next to where I was kneeling. Not long after Bob and I made friend's he began to swim closer to me. Bob and Sandy swam around me for most of the encounter.
After about 30 minutes or so it was time to say goodbye to Bob and Sandy. I would definitely do another Ocean Experience if I were to be granted the opportunity. Thank you Talitha for granting me this wonderful experience, you did an outstanding job with assisting me. I hope to be able to repeat this experience with you in the future.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us Nicholas.
Want to have your own Ocean Experience?
The Two Oceans Aquarium Ocean Experience is a brand new, unique opportunity to get a lot closer and a bit more personal with the animals of the I&J Ocean Exhibit. Engage with the friendly rescue turtles Bob and Sandy in our secure environment, and get a privileged look (with mask and snorkel) at the beautiful short-tail stingrays, the man-faced black musselcracker, giant guitarfish and the nearly 200 other fish swimming around this large-scale exhibit.