As the world slowly began to return to "normal" during 2021, we are presented with the perfect opportunity to now reflect on the people, values and goals that are important, and to get our priorities right. As we all continue to recover, we here at the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation would like to take a look back at some of the highlights that made us proud of our team and community - thank you to all!
Sea turtle rehab successes
2021 has been an incredible, and intense year for the Turtle Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Programme of the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation. With record numbers of large green sea turtles rescued by our volunteer Turtle Rescue Network, dozens of rescued hatchlings, and new behavioural treatments for long-term rehab resident Bob, the team was kept super busy.
In January we teamed up with the NSRI to release 23 successfully rehabilitated sea turtles. This release included Annette, the large loggerhead turtle that had been rescued, and rehabilitated, after being freed from a ghost fishing net in 2019. The turtle team celebrated many small successes in what they have described as their biggest year of growth yet!
Bob the green turtle has also received some good news in 2021. When he was rescued in 2014, infection and injuries lead to neurological damage that affected Bob's natural behaviours. Because of this, Bob would have been unable to survive in the wild, but now, new behavioural enrichment activities designed specifically to get Bob back to his "wild" self has him on track for release again.
Our teachers have been on the ball in 2021! The Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation supported environmental learning for 6 731 learners who attended subsidised lessons at the Aquarium, and taught 385 lessons in person at local schools, as well as 113 online lessons.
With the support of DHL, the Smart Living outreach team was able to reach 8 267 Grade 6 and 7 learners in schools around Cape Town with lessons about biodiversity and sustainability.
The Foundation's Oceans In Motion outreach programme, supported by AVI, took the mobile aquarium, and lessons about life below the ocean surface, to 3 677 kids in Grades 4 to 6!
In addition to all of these amazing teaching opportunities, the education team has been hard at work innovating and spreading environmental education in new spaces: A short online documentary series, webinars, in-person Rocky Shore Exploration sessions with families at local coastlines, a return of in-person Junior Biologist courses at the Aquarium, and more exciting plans that we can't wait to share with you in 2022!
Our brand new Shark Alley
In October, we excitedly opened the much-anticipated Shark Alley, a collaborative new exhibit developed in partnership with the Save Our Seas Foundation. This interactive space is filled with facts, figures and fascination about shark - one of the ocean's most misunderstood and underappreciated animals.
Shark Alley enhances the experience of the neighbouring Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Exhibit, which is home to our ragged-tooth sharks (definitely a favourite of 2021).
South Africa's first-ever MPA Day
On 1 August 2021, we celebrated South Africa's first-ever Marine Protected Areas Day - now an official date of celebration on our national calendar! SA has 42 official MPAs, which are essentially oceanic and coastal nature reserves, protecting rare species, critical breeding grounds, one-of-a-kind ecosystems and more. All of this benefits our country's biodiversity, creates employment and protects our natural resources and heritage for future generations. We're incredibly proud to have been part of the coalition of amazing ocean organisations that made MPA Day a reality.
New technology to save Cape fur seals
Cape fur seal disentanglements, rescues and new research into darting techniques took centre stage in 2021. The Marine Wildlife Management Programme, a collaborative effort between the V&A Waterfront, Two Oceans Aquarium and Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation successfully freed 94 seals from plastic entanglements and helped hundreds of other animals stay out of harm's way during their daily patrols.
Box bands/packaging straps and discarded fishing line remained the two largest sources of entanglement in the Port of Cape Town, accounting for 51% of all entanglements!
We also had the opportunity to work with some unique visitors from Antarctica. Wildlife Programme Coordinator Brett Glasby helped DFFE tag a rare leopard seal!
Finally, this year the team was able to publish its first peer-reviewed article into a new methodology for using sedative darts to help seals that cannot be accessed in traditional manners. This darting methodology has great potential for helping more seals than ever before - and we're looking forward to saving even more seals in 2022.
Codi - our baby penguin
A new fuzz-ball was welcomed to our rockhopper penguin family: Codi Beakham, the fourth chick of Roxy and Grommet.
Little Codi is not so little anymore, and is now showing off his energetic side, playing tag with Nikki and his other new penguin friends!
First SA Matric class to write Marine Sciences
Thanks to the hard work of our team of educators, Marine Sciences was officially accepted as a South African high school subject in 2019. Now, for the first time ever - 12 Matric learners had the opportunity to write their final exam on this subject for the first time!
Our Dive School officially opened!
The Two Oceans Aquarium Dive School received a facelift this year, and has been listed as an official PADI Dive Resort! Now, visitors can book official scuba diving courses and training at the Aquarium - PADI Open Water Diver, PADI Advanced Open Water, and even speciality courses.
These are in addition to the Aquarium experiences you already know, from adventure diving in our Kelp Forest Exhibit, to a PADI Discover Scuba Diving Experience for those that have never scuba dived before.
Did you know, divers at the Two Oceans Aquarium are supported by some amazing local companies? Thanks Reef Wetsuits for keeping us warm, Bright Weights for helping us stay underwater, Divetek for all those essential supplies, and African Organics for keeping us clean and smelling fresh after long hours under the surface!
ECD team is on TV
Our ECD team is pretty amazing, providing daily educational puppet shows to the children visiting our I&J Children's Play Centre, visiting 3 774 children with a mobile puppet show as part of the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation's offerings, and becoming TV stars. That's right - our ECD team's Spunky Sea Stories series is airing on Cape Town TV!
In July and August, we celebrated the amazing superpowers of sea life with our #OceanSuperheroes campaign - sharing daily animal facts and abilities online and through a cool onsite Aquarium journey.
We also teamed up with Consol Glass and the V&A Waterfront to share the stories of the ultimate ocean survivors - sea turtles - and how you can become an Ocean Superhero by helping them. After all, the best way to rescue a turtle is by not needing to - and we can only get there if readers like you are making ocean-minded choices at home.
One little fish definitely had an oversized impact on the Aquarium in 2021 - Pawpaw the one-eyed pufferfish! This quirky, inquisitive little fish quickly became a favourite in our I&J Ocean Exhibit, and has become quite the photo-bomber.
If one thing stands out to the Aquarium team about 2021, it must be the unbelievable coworkers we've gained, lost and celebrated. Family is what gets us through any situation, and at the Two Oceans Aquarium and Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, we've certainly got the best family ever!
We welcomed Ann Lamont - the new Executive Chairperson of the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, who brought years of passion and experience to our team's conservation, research and education efforts.
We celebrated our amazing team of volunteers (including one legend who manages the entire Turtle Rescue Network single-handedly), and we welcomed a new generation of Aquarium volunteers!
We bid farewells to two retiring Aquarium legends - Vincent Calder, our first-ever official employee with 26 years of passion and inspiring storytelling shaping the business we are today, and Iain Robertson the legendary scuba instructor who guided many thousands of people (including many of us) on our first ever dips below the surface. Vince and Iain aren't the only team members we said goodbye to, but we're pleased to see our family grow and venture on to new experiences.
Sea you in 2022 - we can't wait to share our amazing plans with you!
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