The Aquarium’s largest exhibit, the former Predator Exhibit, which houses five ragged-tooth sharks as well as other predatory fish species, has been renamed theSave Our Seas Foundation Shark Exhibit. The two organisations will collaborate to increase communication efforts about marine conservation and research specifically related to sharks. This partnership also includes the development of Shark Alley, a shark information space behind the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Exhibit, which will highlight charismatic shark species, shark biology, sharks under threat, shark-human relationships, and will provide other learning opportunities about sharks.
“We have a long history of supporting projects in South Africa, and this new partnership adds to our extensive programme. The Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre (SOSF-SEC) in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, is at the heart of our activities in South Africa, and we also have long-term partners in the Shark Spotters in Muizenberg and the Acoustic Tracking Array Platform in South Africa’s coastal waters. The SOSF-SEC connects people of all ages from local communities to the marine environment through engaging education programmes that focus on sharks and the marine ecosystems of False Bay. Our goal here is to nurture an awareness of just how important the ocean is, while promoting environmentally responsible actions and a healthy respect for sharks. Our partnership with the Two Oceans Aquarium is very much aligned with the Save Our Seas Foundation’s overall mission which is to support research, conservation and education projects worldwide that focus primarily on endangered species of sharks, rays and skates,” continued Dr Lea.
Sharks have existed in the oceans for hundreds of millions of years, yet populations of various shark species have declined by 90% in recent years. It is estimated that as many as 100 million sharks may be killed by humans every year. They are targeted for their fins, meat, skin, teeth and cartilage in commercial fishing operations, and are also caught as bycatch. However, the shark fin trade which drives shark fisheries is largely unregulated and illegal. Sharks caught in South African waters are being exported to other countries for consumption as there is little consumption of sharks in South Africa itself. Shark populations are also being negatively affected by climate change and habit loss.
As predators, sharks play a pivotal role in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems. The removal of sharks from the ocean can have unpredictable knock-on effects on the overall balance of marine ecosystems and may drive them closer to collapse. A collapse of this magnitude would result in the loss of essential food resources, job opportunities, biodiversity and will ultimately negatively impact on the ocean’s ability to function as a life support system for the planet. By protecting and respecting sharks, and educating around the plight of sharks, we can ensure that the marine ecosystem as a whole is afforded greater protection and respect.
“This year’s WWF Living Planet Index highlights the devastating fact that animal populations have declined by 68% since 1970. This decimation of wildlife populations, both terrestrial and aquatic, by human activities is resulting in a loss of biodiversity and irrevocably changing ecosystems. Biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are the cornerstones of a healthy planet and key to human survival. Our vision at the Two Oceans Aquarium is an abundant and healthy ocean and our mission is to inspire action for well-being of the ocean. By partnering with the Save Our Seas Foundation we can substantially increase our efforts in education and conservation specifically with regards to sharks and contribute to the protection of marine biodiversity and ecosystems – this aligns perfectly with our vision and mission. We are therefore extremely pleased to have joined forces with the Save Our Seas Foundation,” said Michael Farquhar, CEO of the Two Oceans Aquarium.
About the Save Our Seas Foundation
Founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 2003, the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) is a philanthropic organisation aimed at protecting and caring for the world’s oceans. Its support for research, conservation and education projects worldwide focuses primarily on endangered species of sharks, rays and skates. Three permanent SOSF research and education centres reinforce its action in South Africa, Seychelles and the USA.
Over the last 16 years, SOSF has supported some 300 projects in more than 60 countries, passionately upholding the founder’s plight to protect the population of sharks, rays and skates, whose presence is essential to the health and biological diversity of our seas.