The 20th edition of South Africa’s National Science Festival was hosted during the first week of March 2016 in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape. Thanks to the partnership with SAMREC and generous sponsorship from Sibuya Game Reserve, Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) was in attendance to help educate school children and the public on the importance of sustainability and environmental responsibility within the scope of the festivals theme: “A matter of time”.
From March 2nd until March 7th the SST team spent their days in Grahamstown interacting with students of all grades from across South Africa but mainly the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng provinces. Children and youth learned about the creatures and animals in the South African seas, particularly those unique to the country, and the impact of different kinds of marine pollution with a focus on plastic waste and oil spills. The purpose of these teachings was to expose the reality that without proper environmental care and sustainability approaches, South Africa is at risk of loosing some of its incredibly unique marine life in only a matter of time. By exposing the threats to species such as the African Penguin’s risk of extinction, the vulnerable Cape Gannet, and the Cape Fur Seal, SST discussed with children how they can contribute to keeping their own communities clean and improve their impact on marine sustainability. As major supporters of and advocates for environmental and marine sustainability, Sibuya Game Reserve sponsored SST’s stand and attendance at Scifest. They provided SST with this special opportunity to reach out to schools and their students across the country. SAMREC provided the major attraction for SST’s booth by donating the three lifelike display animals that we discussed as well as a brilliant information board on their work to recue, rehabilitate and release endangered penguins and other marine birds. Children were astonished at the impact of pollution on these wildlife and left determined to protect the species as best they could. For many children, the highlight of the booth was having the animals there and being able to see and touch the marine species up close. The animals were so loved by the children that the seal even received a kiss or two when they thought no one was looking. The running theme each day that SST attended Scifest was about the importance of acting now and every day to reduce pollution and actively sustain our seas and the animals that rely on them. Students went home with the knowledge of the animals and creatures we are protecting in the seas, the importance of proper waste disposal and recycling, as well as their own impact on the environment from the garbage they dispose of to the face washes they buy. From the SST team, students and public participants at Scifest, we extend a special thank you to Sibuya Game Reserve and SAMREC for your support to SST and all the work you do for our animals and sea.
As a separate but related project over Scifest week, SST invited and hosted students from the Grahamstown Scifest to join us on our rocky shores at Middle Beach in Kenton-on-Sea to observe and interact with marine species in their natural environment. Doing everything from an animal treasure hunt, to marine photography, quadrant use and fossil discoveries, students enjoyed a day on the beach science-style.
Visit our Facebook page for more pictures of the fun and education at Scifest 2016 and at our Rocky Shores and make sure to “like” our page to stay up to date on recent and upcoming events and activities.