Matthew Orolowitz is the outgoing chairperson of the SEA Team.
The SEA Team is becoming quite a prominent feature on the Two Oceans Aquarium’s blogs. By now it should be evident who we are, what we do and why we do it. However, it was never really explained how it started. In order to do this, I need to tell you a bit about myself.
Although I have introduced my team in the past, I have never really introduced myself. I am Matthew Orolowitz, founder and head of the SEA Team. Currently, I am studying a BSc in Biodiversity and Ecology at Stellenbosch University. I have been a part of the Aquarium since 2011, when I took part in the Young Biologist course. This course exposed me to the crises that face marine animals and the dire state that our oceans are in. I began assisting the Environmental Education Centre team with various courses and awareness campaigns. However, it was not until 2014, when I began promoting ocean awareness at schools, that it struck me how passive the youth are when it comes to proactive conservation. Consequently, the SEA Team was formed to raise awareness and engage the youth.
The SEA Team was launched at the beginning of 2016. It was the culmination of months of planning and meetings. In April, the first committee was elected. Throughout the year the team went from strength to strength, hosting two very successful beach cleanups and the Seascape Expressions competition (where school children were encouraged to send in photos and videos of the environment). However, just like the ebb and flow of the oceans, change is inevitable. Consequently, the team’s term has come to an end. However, it is with great excitement that I announce the new committee!
Huzaifa Valli (Chairperson)
17 years old, Islamia College
“I enjoy art and design, and I am always inspired by the aesthetics of nature. I like working with people and making new friends. I also like playing basketball and spending time outside. My favourite sea animals are orcas because they’re very intelligent and are known to work together towards a common goal. I joined the SEA Team because I saw it as a means to keep learning about the importance of the oceans, and more importantly, as a means to teach it to others.”
Kira Claassen (Vice-chairperson)
16 years old, Bloemhof Girls High School
“I am ambitious, self-disciplined, enthusiastic and a natural socialiser. I prefer to see the positive in everything and everyone, and I love a challenge. I would like to think of myself as someone that has an inherent sense of responsibility towards our planet and the preservation thereof. My favorite sea creature is by far the dolphin because of its superior intelligence. I challenge you: bring me a friendlier smile than that of a dolphin.
“Because of my personality I love to take the lead. I joined the SEA Team because I want to be a part of the team that initiates campaigns and inspires teenagers to make a lasting impact. The SEA Team represents the challenge of influencing as many people as possible and keeping them interested in contributing to the conservation of our oceans.”
Amirah Garbu (Secretary)
16 years old, Rhenish Girls' High School
“I am an ambitious, caring and hard-working person. I love learning about and exploring new concepts, and nature is something that has always fascinated me. I am a little bit of an adrenaline junkie in terms of outdoor adventures, but my all-time favourite outdoor activity is horseback riding. I also love to sing. I am dedicated and committed to making a positive change in the world, no matter how small. My favourite sea creatures are turtles, but jellyfish are really cool too.
“To me, the ocean is a world of unknown, just waiting to be discovered. Unfortunately, the ocean and all marine life are slowly being destroyed as a result of human activity. I want to make a positive impact with regards to the current state of the oceans, and being a part of the movement known as the SEA Team will grant me the opportunity to make a difference and to help raise awareness about the oceans and everything within it.”
Tristan-Leigh Joubert (Vice-secretary)
16 years old, Claremont High School
“My hobbies include swimming, rugby, dancing and breathing. I partake in multiple sports and my academics are not failing me. After being unsuccessful the first time, I was so stoked to have been accepted to the Young Biologist course. And making it onto the SEA Team is the bomb dot com, because I can have a bigger impact when it comes to being involved in saving the environment! Being on the committee provides me with an opportunity to contribute my skills and assist others who share similar interests as me, as well as strengthen skills that I lack.”
Ameerah Saban (Communications)
16 years old, Herschel GirIs School
“My favourite animal is the dolphin. I wanted to join the SEA Team because our oceans are being exploited to the point where, soon, all fish will have to be farmed and I don’t want that to happen. Our planet is in danger and I wanted to be a part of a group of students who work together to raise awareness about these issues and make a positive difference to the environment as well.”
Savannah Anderson (Public relations)
16 years old, Fish Hoek High School
“I love nature and especially the ocean, it is so vast and contains so much that we haven’t even discovered yet. My favourite sea animals are turtles and sharks, because they are both adorable and awesome in their own way. I joined the SEA Team because I want to be an ambassador for the ocean and give it a helping hand in any way I can. I am excited for what we will do as the new SEA Team!”
Muizz Roomanay (Events)
16 years old, Islamia College
“My favourite animal is the dolphin. I partake in basketball and karate. I wanted to be part of the SEA Team because I wanted to be part of something unique.”
And the rest of the team:
Not only was there a change in the committee and team, but also in the management of the team. As any parent will know, at some point you have to let go, therefore it is with a heavy heart that I step down from my position as head of the SEA Team. But I am pleased to announce, and am very happy to have the honour of introducing, the new head of the SEA Team: Maria Cupido. This ambitious young woman is going to the team to new heights… So watch this space!
“I was born in Cape Town and attended Rustenburg High School for Girls in Rondebosch. I graduated from the Two Oceans Aquarium Young Biologist course in October 2014 with a Diamond Certificate [the highest honour] and thereafter graduated from the oceanography and zoology courses through the Marine Science Academy. I have been on the SEA Team since 2014 and have been so inspired working alongside eager conservationists and seeing our team grow. I love working at the Aquarium and to educate people about the importance of our ecosystem and aquatic biomes.
“I not only work at the Aquarium but also coach at Surf Emporium, where I teach others to surf and help them to explore this passion of mine. I have been surfing for eight years, which has affected my love for the ocean and is why I am so passionate about creating awareness about our planet and our oceans.
“I read an article on the United Nations Environmental Programme website which has profoundly influenced my drive to save our environment. ‘The demand for ecosystem goods and services is predicted to further increase: by 2030, the world will require 40% more water, 50% more food, 40% more energy and 40% more timber and fibre. This demand can only be met if ecosystems are sustainably managed to meet both ecological and human needs in the future.’
“In light of this, I aspire to inspire others to see the importance of looking after what we are so lucky to be surrounded by. I am so stoked to be the Two Oceans Aquarium Junior Mentor and SEA Team head, to not only support the Aquarium’s aims and initiatives but also work alongside children who are just as eager to create a difference in the world and allow others to appreciate our environment.
“Environmental activist Gary Snyder sums up my motives: 'Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.' I therefore intend, with the support of the SEA Team and alongside the Aquarium, to look after our home and inspire others to do the same."