Education & Awareness

Online Courses

Adults & children


Shoreline Footprints: An introduction to coastal ecology and related human impacts


Meet the course coordinator

Xavier Zylstra is a Deputy Head at the Aquarium Foundation’s Environmental Education Centre.

Born and bred in Cape Town, Xavier received his Bachelor of Science and Higher Diploma in education, concentrating on natural sciences, from the University of Cape Town. He taught high school biology at several Cape Town schools, including Rondebosch Boys’ High School, where he was subject head for over a decade. He joined the staff at the Two Oceans Aquarium in April 2009.

Xavier has always been fascinated by natural history and is passionate about marine biology and the fauna and flora of the Western Cape as well as local geology and archaeology. What he most enjoys about teaching at the Aquarium is being able to concentrate on promoting marine environmental awareness, conservation and sustainability. His most recent project has been the production of the marine biology content for ‘Marine Sciences’- a new national Matric subject, launched at pilot schools in 2020.

In this current Covid environment, he has been working remotely from Cape Infanta, where he has been focusing on the development and presentation of the new Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation online courses.

He coordinates the Marine Biobasics course and will be the main presenter throughout.

Course content
During this course, we will cover the following content: 

Ecological Concepts

Population Dynamics

South African Marine Ecosystems

Course details:

Dates: 6 April to 4 May 2021
Duration: Five weeks (10 live sessions)
Format: Zoom sessions with our teachers and content on our e-learning platform
Live sessions: 17h30 to 19h30 Tuesdays and Thursdays
Cost: R1000 per person

With this course we aim to introduce basic ecological concepts and apply them, practically, to the many diverse ecosystems on the South African coastline. We will focus on ecosystems such as the open ocean, sandy beaches, rocky shores, estuaries, kelp forests and coral reefs. Each system will be presented with reference to their defining characteristics, including common abiotic and biotic components; endemic and periodic inhabitants; predation, competition and other feeding interactions; specific symbiotic interactions and any other interesting ecological peculiarities.

Once the defining ecological principles and ecosystems have been highlighted, the focus of the presentations will shift to understanding the, largely negative, impact that humans have had on these and other global ecosystems, and measures which can be taken to mitigate further degradation and, ideally, reverse some of the worst trends. By the end of this course, you should have a great understanding of marine ecology and how all of the various biotic and abiotic factors play key roles in keeping ecosystems healthy. Check out the full course content under the 'Course content' tab.

The course format is a combination of live Zoom sessions and extra content on our e-learning platform. Each two-hour Zoom session, with a break in the middle, will be facilitated by teachers from the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, using presentations and short video clips. Detailed, illustrated notes and longer video clips will be available on our online platform. There will be no formal assessments or course results, but participants will be expected to do a short quiz, in their own time, after each week’s presentations. A certificate of completion will be sent to you at the end of the course.

This course is open to anyone 16 years or older.

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