When you think of the Two Oceans Aquarium, you probably think of beautiful exhibits, animals of all shapes and sizes and the dedicated and passionate staff that bring the underwater world to light in one of Cape Town's best-known and most-loved attractions. But, the Aquarium also serves a higher cause: to save the oceans, by creating awareness, inspiring passion for the well-being of our seas and by supporting ongoing education, conservation and marine research.
We believe that conservation and education are the keys to ensuring the future wellbeing of our ocean. Outside of the awareness driven by the Aquarium and its exhibits, the Aquarium has also established the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation committed to nurturing and inspiring the next generation of marine scientists, educators and conservation champions. Through education, conservation and awareness efforts, we work together to empower communities to become agents of change for protecting our oceans.
So, let’s talk about some of the conservation initiatives that your support makes possible:
Shark tracking and research
The Two Oceans Aquarium participates in shark research and conservation programmes which has, to date, focused on ragged-tooth sharks and seven-gill sharks. Scientists are using every opportunity to learn more about these incredible animals that have been roaming Earth’s oceans for more than 400 million years. Sharks temporarily housed at the Aquarium have not only given us the opportunity to educate the public about these fascinating, yet misunderstood animals, but thanks to a regular tagging and release programme, ex-Aquarium sharks have also helped to reveal the migration secrets of South Africa's coastal sharks.
Rescuing our seals
Seals living in a working harbour, such as Cape Town's, are prone to becoming entangled in discarded "nooses", such as fishing line and box bands. These working environments also pose the added risk of bringing wild animals into direct contact with humans. Two Oceans Aquarium staff, together with a team of seal monitors managed by the Foundation, actively patrol the harbour and use a number of techniques that we have developed to free Cape fur seals from entanglements, and entice them to spend time in safe spaces away from humans, and deter them from taking refuge in high-risk areas.
A hospital for turtles
The Two Oceans Aquarium is a safe space for rescued sea turtles to be rehabilitated and readied for release. With the support of an extensive network of organisations and volunteers along the Western Cape's coast, and many incredible donors, hundreds of sea turtles have been saved, rehabilitated and released back into the wild thanks to the joint efforts of the teams from the Aquarium and the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation.
Educating the next generation
The Two Oceans Aquarium has established itself as a leading environmental education centre. Over the past 20 years, the Aquarium’s Environmental Education Centre and later the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation has developed an extensive school excursion programme, outreach programmes, enrichment courses for learners from Grade 6 to 12, and a new marine sciences school curriculum. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of children that are able to learn about the ocean during visits to the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Foundation reaches approximately 75 000 school children from around the Cape who take part in lessons with the Education team, and an additional 35 000 children a year through dedicated outreach programmes.