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Elwandle Node showcases Ocean Sciences Campus during National Marine Week

By Nozipiwo Hambaze, Science Engagement Officer, SAEON Elwandle Node
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National Marine Week is celebrated across South Africa during the second week of October to encourage the sustainable use of marine resources and to highlight the importance of keeping coastal ecosystems healthy for current and future generations.

In Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape province, National Marine Week was celebrated from 8 to 11 October under the theme Harsh realities of plastic in our oceans.

The celebrations, led by SAEON’s Elwandle Node, were held at the Ocean Sciences Campus of Nelson Mandela University (NMU). The aim was to raise awareness about the importance of the oceans and coastal environments, preventing plastic pollution and encouraging solutions for a healthy ocean.

Exploring exciting exhibits

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SAEON's Jennifer Mohale explains the importance of mangroves to a group of learners (Photo: Nozi Hambaze)

Several organisations mounted interactive displays for the week’s activities. SAEON’s Elwandle Node showcased marine research instruments and marine careers to learners and the public.

The South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) displayed different fish species to illustrate how they behave in the ocean. The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and the Sustainable Seas Trust showed the threats faced by marine seabirds such as penguins, and what people can do to protect these birds.

Nelson Mandela University’s display introduced visitors to BOATS, a mobile game for youngsters to raise awareness about the marine plastic pollution crisis. Available as an app on Android, BOATS challenges the player to navigate a craft through the ocean by interacting with actual tokens while collecting plastic garbage along the way. NMU Enactus showcased bricks made from recycled plastics. NMU Enactus is a non-profit organisation committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need, 

Bayworld focused on dolphins and their importance in the marine ecosystem. The Zwartkops Conservancy display demonstrated how to turn plastics into recyclable bags, placemats, floor mats and hats.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries showcased the responsible use of marine resources to benefit present and future generations. Other exhibitors included the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which demonstrated the water cycle to learners, and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA).

Grade nine learners from around Nelson Mandela Bay were afforded the opportunity to explore exhibits, interact with exhibitors and learn more about marine science careers, marine research as well as plastic pollution and recycling. Eastern Cape Spar sponsored lunch for the exhibitors.

‘Land boat trip’

Another National Marine Week activity took place away from the main venue. SAEON’s Dr Lucienne Human and Jennifer Mohale visited a play school and took little ones on a “land boat trip”.

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Dr Lucienne Human enjoys interacting with the little ones on the boat (Photo: Jennifer Mohale)

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