Creating awareness of the vital role of our oceans
The theme of this year's National Marine Week, which took place from 8 to 12 October, was "Southern Ocean - It is the small things that count".
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) celebrated National Marine Week on 10 and 11 October at the National Zoological Gardens. The NZG's Department of Conservation Education and Public Engagement in Science taught visiting learners more about our oceans, the benefits derived from them and the need for sustainable conservation.
An NZG education officer tells the learners more about the amazing biodiversity of our oceans.
Excited learners explore one of the interesting display stations in the NZG Aquarium.
The NZG's African penguins create footprint paintings to celebrate International African Penguin Awareness Day.
The seal show was specially commissioned for this year's National Science Week celebrations.
This year's theme, "Southern Ocean - It is the small things that count" was chosen to emphasise the vital role that plankton plays in marine ecosystems.
On 10 October, Makgetse High School visited the NZG for a day of presentations and talks at various display stations throughout the Aquarium. The NZG's two adopted schools, Saulridge Secondary School and Soshanguve Secondary School visited the National Zoo on 11 October to celebrate National Marine Week in style. Each learner received a school backpack filled with Marine Week stationery, marine posters and a cap that was worn proudly while they walked around the Zoo.
A special seal show was performed for the schools and some learners were lucky enough to see the African penguins creating footprint paintings that were used to celebrate African Penguin Awareness Day.
Penguin Awareness Day
On 13 October, the African Penguin Awareness Day celebrations at the zoo provided a fitting conclusion to the week's marine awareness initiatives.
A rapid decrease in the numbers of African penguins has led to their status being changed from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. To raise awareness of the plight of the African penguin, a day has been selected to create awareness of this species.
The Animal Keepers Association of Africa (AKAA) took a proactive approach to this problem by launching the Penguin Promises Campaign in 2011 and introducing the "Waddle for a Week" initiative - which sees penguin lovers waddle from Gansbaai to the Simon's Town Boulders Beach penguin colony.
African Penguin Awareness Day at the NZG took the form of talks about the African penguin, face painting, colouring-in stations, quizzes, a waddling competition and having a photograph taken with the penguin mascot. Visitors could also watch African penguins having fun with their enrichment programme -- chasing after bubbles and inspecting themselves in mirrors. The public were able to watch the penguins feed while nibbling on their own "penguin cookies" that were for sale.
With the help of the NZG staff, AKAA members, volunteers and Friends of the Zoo, African Penguin Awareness Day was a huge success and contributed towards saving this endangered species.
What is National Marine Week?
About 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean; yet our knowledge of the oceans is limited.
Marine life has been celebrated in a number of ways since 1988, bolstered by government endeavours to create awareness for marine conservation. National Marine Week is celebrated in South Africa during the third week of October. The objective is to create national awareness of our marine and coastal environments and to promote sustainable use and conservation of marine resources for present and future generations.
National Marine Week aims to instil a sense of pride in the oceans surrounding our country as well as our 3000-km plus coastline. A better understanding of our oceans and the rich biodiversity they sustain is expected to lead to advancements in science and technology and management plans towards conserving our oceans.
Claire Fordred, NZG Intern
The National Zoological Gardens of
South Africa is a proud facility of
the National Research Foundation