Sharks come ashore

2015-10-13 06:00
The upgraded Shark Education Centre has opened in Kalk Bay.

nicole mccain

The upgraded Shark Education Centre has opened in Kalk Bay. PHOTO: nicole mccain

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The new and improved Shark Education Centre opened in Kalk Bay last week.

Closed from April last year, the facility has been transformed into a dedicated education centre of the Save our Seas Foundation.

The interior has been revamped and the exhibits redesigned to ensure a fun, interesting learning environment, says centre manager Eleanor Yeld-Hutchings.

Visitors can look forward to a few old favourites, as well as some new additions, Yeld-Hutchings says.

“The old favourite – our big aquarium tank – is looking beautiful with its new cladding, and has a whole new set of inhabitants. We are adding more creatures all the time,” she says.

A starfish-shaped touch pool has been added for those days when weather and tides don’t permit staff and visitors to get across to the Dalebrook Marine Sanctuary rock pools. The touch pool will be stocked with some exciting rock pool creatures.

A custom-made game that teaches players about sharks, is expected to be a hit, Yeld-Hutchings says.

“We have also had some beautiful murals painted, including an immersive 3D, touchable kelp forest mural and a pelagic shark mural. There are many other things to see too: Touch panels of fake animal skin, a scratch patch of beach treasures and informative graphics about the intertidal rocky shores, Kalk Bay and its history and a custom map of False Bay.

“We will continue to add new exhibits all the time. Next year we will be opening the doors of a dedicated ‘shark central’ room full of amazing shark information and things to see and do,” she says.
The education centre fulfils a unique purpose, Yeld-Hutchings believes.

“In South Africa there are huge inequalities and gaps across schools, and the Centre is fortunate to occupy a unique position both physically, in being able to really immerse children in experientially focused educational activities, and financially, in being able to accommodate those children and schools that are extremely disadvantaged,” she says.

“There is also a lack of understanding across society as a whole about how important healthy oceans are to life on earth, how incredible the oceans and coasts of South Africa (and the world) are, and what role they play in our lives. Connecting people with the environment, and fostering a care for our oceans, is the first step in ensuring that we will conserve them.”

Yeld-Hutchings hopes that through the education programme, groups of children are inspired to care about oceans.

“We hope that the public will feel the same: that they have an interesting visit, learn something new, have fun, and leave feeling inspired to care about the oceans. In addition to schools and the public coming through, there are outreach events (where the educators go to schools themselves), there are holiday clubs, marine awareness camps, marine explorers clubs and many other events. The goal is to ensure that the Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre becomes a Cape Town site not to be missed, and that our marine education and conservation messages are spread far and wide.”

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