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One Blue Heart beats for our turtles

- Turtles, Events, Conservation, Blog, Foundation
One Blue Heart beats for our turtles

Header image credit: Geoff Spiby

Recently, the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, in collaboration with One&Only Cape Town, hosted the second One Blue Heart gala to raise funds for our Turtle Conservation Centre. This blue carpet event was lit up by Cloudigital Museum with stunning screens and striking visuals.

Attended by conservationists, ocean game-changers, celebrities, business leaders, media, artists, and designers, One Blue Heart celebrated the marine world (and, of course, turtles) and showcased conscious food choices, slow fashion, and mesmerising art. 

The highlight of the evening was the announcement by David Green (CEO of the V&A Waterfront) of a new, stand-alone Turtle Conservation Centre to be built in the Waterfront’s Granger Bay precinct. A first of this scale in Africa, the new Turtle Conservation Centre will include a turtle rehabilitation hospital, education facilities, ample space for exhibition displays, a restaurant, and a shop.

So, why One Blue Heart?

Most of the threats facing turtle populations today are a direct result of human impacts on the ocean, such as plastic ingestion, poaching, and entanglement in ghost fishing gear. But, since these are human-induced issues, we are also the ones who can make a positive difference. Our Turtle Conservation Centre is dedicated to this core belief: We can all take small steps towards a brighter future for turtles and other marine life. Through rehabilitation and release of injured turtles, as well as promoting education and awareness, our team is committed to conserving and protecting turtles.

The Turtle Conservation Centre sees over 100 endangered turtles each year, most of which are eventually returned to the ocean, healthy, after receiving extensive veterinary care and rehabilitation. This is all made possible through donations, fundraising, and generous sponsorships.

To maximise its capacity for rehabilitating turtles and educating the public, the Turtle Conservation Centre aims to expand into a standalone, state-of-the-art turtle rehabilitation centre to serve the African continent. The need for this facility has been made crystal clear with the arrival of over 530 stranded loggerhead turtle hatchlings to the Turtle Conservation Centre in the space of two weeks. While we are providing a high standard of care for these turtles, the incredible volume of new patients has highlighted our need for a bigger space. The new space will serve as a refuge for injured and stranded turtles, as well as foster awareness and educate visitors who want to learn about turtles and the threats they face in the ocean. However, this multimillion-Rand project requires great effort and dedication to ensure its success – which is where One Blue Heart was instrumental.

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Talitha Noble-Trull, Conservation Manager of the TCC, spoke about loggerhead turtle Nobomvu's incredible journey to release.

A blue carpet for the turtles

One Blue Heart paid tribute to turtles in incredible ways. The evening began in front of ourI&J Ocean Exhibit, where three rehabilitated subadult green turtles are currently completing the last phase of their rehabilitation before being released back into the wild. 

In addition to viewing the turtles in their temporary underwater world, guests had the opportunity to explore the art exhibition, ‘Nothing Comes Without its Worlds’, curated by Dr Dylan McGarry, Cloudigital, the V&A Waterfront, and supporting artists. Renowned South African personality, Maps Maponyane, was the MC for the evening and welcomed guests with his signature style. Throughout the evening, Zolani Mahola, The One Who Sings, enthralled the audience with rich narratives and a song about ocean ancestry, care, and turtles. Each speaker was illuminated by Cloudigital's beautiful screens, bringing life to their words. 

Even the menu kept our turtles and the end goal of healthy oceans in mind! One&Only Cape Town’s Resort Chef, Henrico Grobbelaar, and his kitchen created a bespoke, plant-based menu for One Blue Heart. It included a twist on the traditional dining practice: A vegan menu for everyone, with guests who prefer meat needing to elect this as a dining option.

Furthermore, guests were asked to wear sustainable fashion, stressing the negative impact of fast fashion on the environment. Each of the guests took the evening’s code of sustainable fashion earnestly, illustrating how glamorous slow fashion can be. One Blue Heart once again collaborated with Jackie May from Twyg and featured pieces from designers Cleo Droomer, Thando Ntuli, and Luke Radloff.

Of course, the announcement of the new Turtle Conservation Centre brought huge applause from guests and more than a few happy tears from the turtle team members in attendance! The announcement was made even more exciting with Cloudigital's screens portraying a render of the new Turtle Conservation Centre.

The evening was enhanced by those who supported our vision and the broader Foundation work, such as FNB who generously sponsored a table. The Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation is so grateful to each of these "blue hearts". It was awe-inspiring to see such compassion and care in every aspect of One Blue Heart, from the artwork, food, people, and performances to the hard work of everyone involved in bringing our vision to life.

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Now what?

One Blue Heart paid tribute to the turtles in the most heart-warming of ways. It is thanks to the generous support of our guests, collaborators, and supporters, that the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation is nearing the moment of breaking ground on a stand-alone Turtle Conservation Centre and realising our vision of rehabilitating more turtles and impacting more lives.

Through the food and fashion elements, One Blue Heart guests were reminded that everything we do, from our daily choices to more significant decisions, ultimately impacts the ocean and the planet. However, we must continue to show the same compassion and care in our day-to-day lives. Each of the turtles undergoing rehabilitation at the Turtle Conservation Centre is an ambassador for their species, reminding us that we can all play a part in protecting the ocean and its inhabitants. Even something small, like picking up a few pieces of litter when you visit the beach, can lead to remarkable change.

By turning passion into action, we can make a difference in the future of turtles.

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