Tomorrow, 24 September, is national Heritage Day. Here are three reasons to celebrate not only our cultural and social heritage, but our world-class natural heritage too.
1. We live in a biodiversity hotspot
South Africa is one of the top three countries in the world in terms of biodiversity, meaning we have lots of variety when it comes to plant and animal life.
Life off our coasts is particularly rich and varied. Says Professor Rudy van der Elst, former director of the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban: “There are some 2 200 species of fish in [South African] seas, equivalent to about 15% of the total number of marine fish species worldwide. There are 270 families of fishes represented in South Africa, equivalent to 83% of all marine fish families known. Strikingly, up to 13% are endemic, ranking amongst the highest anywhere.”
At the Two Oceans Aquarium we have a duty to educate our visitors about environmental issues and to lead by example when it comes to responsible business practice. To that end, we’ve maintained our Platinum status with the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme.
How did we do it?
If you want to support our efforts, you can donate to our conservation fund at any time, with any amount. Your contribution will go towards our conservation work, which includes but is not limited to turtle rehabilitation and release, shark conservation and research, and important work with Cape fur seals that become ensnared in various pieces of plastic.
2. Two oceans, one country
The Indian and Atlantic oceans meet here on the coast of South Africa. And while the exact meeting of the seas are still (depending on the company you keep) up for debate, the beauty of the contrast between the warm and cold is not.
At the Oceans of Contrast: Indian Ocean Gallery, you get to peek at the vibrant tropical beauties that live in the warmer Indian Ocean. Angelfish, butterflyfish and corals are but some of the colourful creatures that inhabit these waters.
Our Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit is one of only a handful of living kelp forests on display. Occasionally, you can even see our rockhopper penguins shoot through the water as they take a break from their beach in the Penguin Exhibit supported by Old Mutual Finance.
3. You can have an ocean-friendly fish braai
The recent Living Blue Planet report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) does not paint a happy picture about our oceans’ fish stocks. Fish like tuna and mackerel, says the report, “fell by 74% between 1970 and 2012, outstripping a decline of 49% for 1 234 ocean species over the same period.”
There are resources you can use to make good decisions when it comes to eating seafood. Consult the WWF South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative's guidebook (SASSI) and have an ocean-friendly fish braai. Yellowtail, for example, is delicious and green-listed! What about some braaied yellowtail with sticky apricot glaze? Here's a lekker-sounding recipe from Woolworths.
Want to meet yellowtail, not eat it? You can do so at the I&J Predator Exhibit at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Remember to buy your tickets online to save 10% and skip the queues tomorrow!
Bonus reason! September only: Become a member and win
Explore our heritage as often as you wish with a Two Oceans Aquarium membership. If you join or renew in September, you’ll be entered into a draw for a R500 hamper from Africa Organics. More details here.