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.
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.
Each Marine Explorers group usually has seven weeks of surfing, followed by the same period of snorkelling.
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.
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.
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.
We have been so grateful for the incredible goodwill and support that has been offered by a whole group of people and organisations.
Students from the University of Cape Town’s Underwater Club pitch up every week to help the kids in the water.
Pisces Divers, a local dive centre, is amazingly supportive and provides snorkel instruction. PADI is kind enough to sponsor certification of our young participants.
The Two Oceans Aquarium has also been extremely generous in sponsoring a visit and lesson to our young enthusiasts!
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.