The Save Our Seas Foundation’s Shark Education Centre runs their Marine Explorers Club twice per year, for six months at a time, working with local children to foster a love and respect for the sea through surfing, diving and educational experiences along the coastline of False Bay. The programme currently works with grade five and six youngsters from two different schools, both within walking distance of the shores of False Bay.

Bodyboarding at Muizenberg. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

The Marine Explorers Club meets on Friday afternoons, and most of these sessions are spent surfing, diving or learning about marine life at one of a few locations in False Bay, near to the Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre.

Getting the hang of surfing. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

Each Marine Explorers group usually has seven weeks of surfing, followed by the same period of snorkelling.

Being introduced to masks and snorkels for the first time. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation
Pisces Divers giving the Marine Explorers some snorkelling instructions. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

After the thrill of surfing, we spend another seven weeks learning to snorkel. The water confidence built up during surfing pays dividends as the kids learn to breathe through a snorkel and become accustomed to having their heads underwater for prolonged periods of time.

Using newly developed snorkelling skills to dive deep under the sea. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

Of course, it’s also about having fun, and fun is the vehicle for learning – learning to love and respect the sea, and stimulating interest in marine life. Through experience, we may become interested, possibly excited, aware, and even in love.

Bianca Engel from the Two Oceans Aquarium giving the Marine Explorers a hands-on lesson. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

During a hands-on session at the Two Oceans Aquarium recently, where we learned about some of the local marine creatures, it was wonderful to see just how well this approach seems to be working, as the kids fired thoughtful questions at Aquarium educator Bianca, and communicated a genuine appreciation of the marine world.

Meeting a real-life shyshark at the Two Oceans Aquarium. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

We have been so grateful for the incredible goodwill and support that has been offered by a whole group of people and organisations.

Beach team-building games. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

Students from the University of Cape Town’s Underwater Club pitch up every week to help the kids in the water.

UCT Underwater Club volunteers help the youngsters get comfortable with snorkelling safely. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

Pisces Divers, a local dive centre, is amazingly supportive and provides snorkel instruction. PADI is kind enough to sponsor certification of our young participants.

Snorkelling session in the Pisces Divers pool. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

Xpression on the Beach, a local surf shop, has provided surfboards for every session, and Reef Wetsuits have given us great deals to help the Marine Explorers cope with our icy waters.

Pre-surf stretching on Muizenberg Beach. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

The Two Oceans Aquarium has also been extremely generous in sponsoring a visit and lesson to our young enthusiasts!

Marine Explorers at the Two Oceans Aquarium. © Shark Education Centre | Save Our Seas Foundation

If reading this makes you feel inspired to help more children experience the wonders of the ocean, the Marine Explorers would love it if you could support Shark Spotters and make the ocean a safer place - for humans and sea life. The Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre in Kalk Bay is open to the public, as are Cape Town's tidal pools - also magnificent places to learn about ocean life. Finally, if you'd like to sponsor a child's visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Education Centre, you can do so here.

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