The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa, has been involved in marine research throughout its 24-year existence. With the establishment of the non-profit Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, the Aquarium intends to grow its research capacity significantly and the Foundation be recognised as an aquatic research centre.
We, with resource support from the Two Oceans Aquarium, aim to further strengthen the collaboration with higher education institutions such as the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape. These collaborations focus on hands-on marine sciences skills developments in the fields of marine animal husbandry and health, welfare and conservation. Furthermore, through these collaborations the internal research outcomes have increased and will continue to grow. We and the Aquarium also support various external research projects in key research topics, such as:
Biodiversity conservation | Marine parasitology | Penguin biology | Sea jelly cnidology | Sea turtle conservation | Shark and ray elasmobranchology | Veterinary methods | Microplastics
We host post-graduate students annually, through partnerships with higher education institutes such as the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University. Furthermore, partnerships with like-minded non-profit organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), the Aquarium and the Foundation are able to provide unemployed students, in the form of internships, the opportunity to grow their marine sciences technical skills in marine animal husbandry and health, welfare and conservation. These are skills that will enhance their employability in careers related to the marine environment.
Our conservation programmes, such as the turtle rescue, rehabilitation and release programme and the marine wildlife management programme in the V&A Waterfront, are linked to ongoing research projects. Our research is regularly presented at international conferences and gatherings.
Our research department aims to contribute to the building of human capacity in the marine biological and conservation sciences that would assist Africa in not only increasing the quality of research outputs of its academic community, but also strengthen global partnerships for research and conservation. Furthermore, we aim to evaluate our education programmes to ensure quality impactful environmental education that will not only connect more people to the ocean but also improve the understanding of the role and impact of the ocean in our lives. In this way more people participate in the protection and conservation of our precious marine resources.
Current research activities include:
Injured and stranded sea turtle health treatments & post release tracking | Micro and macro plastic pollution in the waters surrounding the Two Oceans Aquarium in Table Bay Harbour | Jellyfish lifecycles and biology | Monitoring and evaluation of marine education and conservation programmes
Claudine van Zyl completed her Work Imtegrated Learning (WIL) internship with us last year. Her research project was: ‘The characterisation of plastics in stranded post-hatchling loggerhead turtles along the South African coastline from 2015 to 2020’.
Bob, a green turtle in our care, has been with us since November 2014. While he is not ready for release yet, we are preparing him so that he has the best chance of survival back in the big blue. Alex Panagiotou, one of our turtle team specialists, is working with Bob through enrichment programmes and research.
Grant Blakeway completed the 2020 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge by solo rowing 4 800 km across the Atlantic. He did this to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean.