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Wannabe marine scientists create a splash

More than 30 young biologists have won awards on a course at Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium supported by De Beers Marine.

A graduation ceremony was held at the aquarium, one of the city’s top tourist attractions, so named because it is sited on the southern tip of the African continent where two oceans meet, the Indian and Atlantic.

The 36 teenage biologists had completed a series of volunteer courses, attended an eco-camp and undertaken an environmental improvement action of their own.

Domingos Valbom, General Manager at De Beers Marine, said: “The standard of young biologists this year was as high as ever. A central feature of De Beers’ strategy is operating sustainably, so we are thrilled to be associated with this course, which encourages young biologists to take the same approach.”

After the presentation of certificates and awards, the aquarium’s Head of Education Russell Stevens thanked De Beers Marine for its support for the education programme, saying:  “If you do something, make a difference to at least one child. We think De Beers has indeed done a lot of ‘somethings’.”

The course began with several days of theoretical and practical work, with students having the chance to work with living creatures and receiving training in the use of equipment such as digital microscopes.

The eco-camp was on the Cape Peninsula where the young biologists took a closer look at marine life and experienced snorkelling, a beach clean-up and night coastal explorations.

They went behind the scenes of the aquarium, which is run by a staff of 100 with 250 volunteers, and learnt about the types of careers available to people wanting to work with the ocean. Many are likely to go on to pursue careers in marine science and conservation.

Feedback from one young biologist said: “I intend on working with my community to get involved and to make them more aware of what is happening to our oceans.”

Class representative Shawna Anthony said: “The sea is as close to a new world as we can come. But, above all, I’ve learned how to appreciate the ocean even more. It gives us everything we need to survive. We now need more people, especially youngsters like us, to step forward and solve the problems facing the ocean.”

The Two Oceans Aquarium offers a variety of free courses and educational opportunities for young students. Aquarium staff say the Young Biologist Course is their favourite course to run and they are “immensely grateful” to De Beers Marine for the continued sponsorship.

De Beers Marine, which supports the mining and exploration fleet of De Beers Marine Namibia, has backed the aquarium’s Marine Sciences Academy for more than a decade.

Thandi Mabena, Senior Human Resources Manager at De Beers Marine, said: “We are proud of our partnership with the Two Oceans Aquarium as we share the same value of care and support for our oceans and its inhabitants. The educational role played by the Aquarium intimately supports the sustainability and wellbeing of our two oceans.

“It is encouraging that our youth is championing the environmental conservation cause to ensure that future generations continue to experience the phenomenal marine life and environment.”

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