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2023 recap: A look back at an incredible year!

By Ethan Smit and Laura du Toit
- Animals, Blog, Bob, Courses, Education, Marine Wildlife, sharks, Trash Bash, Turtles
2023 recap: A look back at an incredible year!

2023 has been an amazing year for the Two Oceans Aquarium, and we're so excited to start the next! Before we do, let's look back at some of the moments that made 2023 what it was: 

Saying goodbye to Bob...

After eight years of rehabilitation at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation’s Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC), Bob the green turtle was released! On 27 January 2023, Bob took his first plunge into the Indian Ocean in KwaZulu-Natal. This was an incredibly special moment for the team at the TCC. Talitha Noble, Conservation Manager at the TCC, reflected on the day; “Bob's release experience was tremendously special. Everyone there had a deep respect for Bob, and he was ushered home with the most spectacular love.” 

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Penguins on stairs!

Honestly, it doesn't really get much cuter than penguins on stairs. Watch this adorable video of some of our rockhopper penguins heading up to enjoy their morning swim! 

We went Trash Bash crazy!

The Two Oceans Aquarium hosted eight awesome Trash Bash beach cleanups in 2023 - contributing to the fight against plastic pollution. Our Trash Bash provided the opportunity for like-minded people to come together and have a blast of a time, all while keeping our beaches clean. 

Look out 2024 - there's loads more to come! 

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We waddled for the African penguin!

On International African Penguin Awareness Day, our Two Oceans Aquarium family (and penguin-minded people all over the world) flocked together in support of the African penguin! In the V&A Waterfront, waddlers were decked up in their best black and white, sporting amazing penguin-themed outfits. Our African penguin mascot, Samantha, was the most popular participant, leading the waddle for her fellow penguins with great enthusiasm. In Simon’s Town, our team experienced true community spirit. In partnership with I AM WATER and Marine Dynamics, the waddle was a huge success and exceeded all expectations. Both waddles boasted perfect weather, spirited crowds, and plenty of beautifully decorated placards! 

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The return of After Dark!

After two previous sold-out runs, After Dark returned to the Two Oceans Aquarium in 2023! Together with entertainment website Texx and the City, we hosted three amazing live concerts, featuring some of Cape Town's finest bands, ISO, Yndian Mynah, Van Der Aven, Retro Dizzy, MaxX & Love, and Orah & The Kites.

The fascinating I&J Oceans Exhibit played host to three sold-out crowds over three nights in June, July, and August. The popular exhibit was transformed into a cosy, lounge-style setting where our audiences were able to enjoy two bands each night, as well as the beautiful marine life at the Aquarium.

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The Young Biologist Course inspired learners to protect the ocean!

As they have been for the past 20 years, the Two Oceans Aquarium education team successfully ran another Young Biologist course, contributing to the growth and development of a group of young kids within the marine space! The Young Biologist camp did not disappoint and was a hit among all the students. 

"We hope these learners will continue promoting the love and care of our environment through Education. We are most grateful for the generous sponsorship by De Beers, which enables us to attract such passionate young people and offer this valuable experience to them," says Chanelle Thomas, Course Coordinator.


Successful seal rescues!

Our Marine Wildlife Management Programme got a call about a severely entangled seal in the V&A Waterfront harbour. They leapt into action – Claire Taylor, Marine Wildlife Specialist, donned a wetsuit and jumped into the water to remove the cord from the seal’s neck. The little seal was so weak that Claire could easily remove the cord, after which the team decided to help it recover in the clinic at the Aquarium. Later, the little seal was raring to go and, upon its release back into the ocean, swam off happily!

Sharks came in and sharks went out!

In January this year, the Two Oceans Aquarium welcomed two new ragged-tooth sharks into the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Exhibit. Jemma and Harper were both safely collected and transported by our collections team and have been with us ever since. Come say hi! 

Just a few months after welcoming Jemma and Harper, the Two Oceans Aquarium family bid farewell to ragged-tooth shark, Dané, who was released off Struisbaai Main Beach in March 2023 by a team of Aquarium Curatorial staff. 

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#NOOW campaign launch!

On 1 March 2023, the #NotOnOurWatch campaign was launched to raise awareness of the urgent plight of the African penguin. The campaign is supported by several conservation organisations including WWF-SA, Endangered Wildlife Trust, SAAMBR, SANCCOB, Birdlife South Africa, African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, Dyer Island Conservation Trust, Animal Ocean, and Nelson Mandela University. Funding for the campaign was received from the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, the Florida Aquarium and the Georgia Aquarium in the US, and Zoos Victoria in Australia. 

“Our goal is to create a movement and raise awareness about the need for urgent action to reverse the decline of the African penguin population in the wild. Through this campaign, we will call for support to ensure that wise decisions concerning the future of the African penguin are made by the relevant authorities. We will create a movement to build pride in African penguins as a part of South Africa’s unique biodiversity and we will assist penguin colony managers by ensuring that visitors to the colonies behave in ways that support penguin wellbeing” said Dr Judy Mann, Head of Strategic Projects at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation. 

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We'd like to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved in making 2023 such a successful and exciting year for the Two Oceans Aquarium and its Foundation. From each and every one of our visitors to all those who keep up with us online - we appreciate all the love and constant support. Going into the new year, we are looking forward to doing better and going bigger! 


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