“If you love it, put a diamond on it!” Our relationship with the planet is official – the Two Oceans Aquarium has once again been awarded Diamond Status, the highest certification of the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme.
The Heritage Environmental Rating Programme is an internationally recognised eco-label that highlights an organisation's ongoing efforts to reduce it impact on the environment and local communities. We are very proud to be one of the few organisations in South Africa to attain Diamond Status and hope that we can continue to lead the way in sustainable business.
The future of marine education in South Africa
Our world-class Environmental Education team have once again outdone themselves. Not only did more than 70 000 children visit the Aquarium's Environmental Education Centre in 2017, but Aquarium outreach teams, Oceans in Motion and Smart Living, visited almost 20 000 children from communities that are unable to come to us. The team have formulated the entire curriculum for a marine sciences high school subject which will be piloted soon.
Of course, we also apply education principles to augment our visitors' experience. Displays like our Smart Living Challenge Zone, sponsored by the City of Cape Town, offer an interactive way for children and their guardians to learn more about key sustainability issues: biodiversity, energy, water and waste.
We are working with the V&A Waterfront to develop and implement the V&A Marine Wildlife Management Programme, which will be fully implemented soon and aims to facilitate the safe and harmonious interaction between the area's human and animal residents. The Seal Monitor programme is the initial part of this project, with the Aquarium spending more than 1 000 hours patrolling Cape Town's harbour for distressed seals and rescuing 71 entangled seals in the process.
During the course of 2017, more than 1 300 hours were spent on rehabilitating stranded and injured sea turtles from the Western Cape. These rehabilitation efforts were highlighted by the recent release of Yoshi, the loggerhead turtle returned to the ocean after 20 years at the Aquarium. And, with your help, 27 stranded loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings were rescued and released.
Shrinking our carbon footprint
We are also aware of the importance of reducing our carbon footprint and are making efforts to reduce our energy consumption – the largest contributor to the Aquarium’s carbon footprint. Our rooftop solar panels have played a huge part in reducing energy usage, generating almost 195MWh, or enough to power 27 average Cape Town homes for a year.
Leading the way through Cape Town's drought
With the ongoing drought in the Cape, we have made increased efforts to reduce our water usage, and increased public awareness about the drought through campaigns like #SaveLikeAPenguin. In partnership with EcoTanks, 14 457 litres of rainwater storage capacity was added to the Aquarium. All taps in the Aquarium have been fitted with aerators, reducing flow rates to less than 90% of what they were originally.
We all know that single-use plastic sucks! The Aquarium’s gift shop tenant has also committed to reducing its plastic packaging too. Additionally, more of the gifts and souvenirs are manufactured locally.
Through efforts like this, we have reduced our waste by more than 65%. We are even more proud of the fact that we have reduced the non-recyclable portion of our waste being sent to landfills by 37 tons, with almost half of the waste generated being recycled. We are still open to ideas on how to reduce this even further!