Shark spotters Patrick, Justin and Monwabisi got up close and personal with assorted marine life at the Two Oceans Aquarium on 12 June 2006. They attended an introductory course aimed at giving them a better understanding of the marine ecosystem and an appreciation of the diversity of plants and animals and their adaptations to their environment.
The spotters had hands-on experiences with the sea urchins, starfish, crayfish and mussels which are housed in tanks on desks in the Aquarium’s Education Discovery Centre. After the lunch the spotters discovered a sardine and a pair of scissors on each desk. ‘Hands on’ took on a new meaning when these specimens had to be dissected to locate the gills and swimbladders!
The conservation section of the course informed the spotters of the great numbers of sharks which are killed annually (100 million), mainly for their fins for soup and as by-catch of the fishing industry. Sharks play a vital role in the food chain and reducing their numbers below sustainable levels has an effect on the entire ecosystem. The spotters were given booklets on the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) which informs consumers about which fish species are caught with the least negative impact to the environment. Log on to www. wwf.org.za/sassi/ to find out how to make good seafood choices.
The course ended with a viewing of the feed in the I&J Predator Exhibit and a tour of the Aquarium. As expected Patrick, Monwabisi and Justin were spell-bound by the ragged-tooth sharks and are eager to dive with them in the near future.
Photo: Yvonne Kamp.