Celebrating National Marine Week
National Marine Week is a yearly national enviro calendar event which is used to celebrate our oceans and educate both young and old about the importance of keeping our oceans healthy. The theme for this year’s National Marine Week was # OCEANS 70/20: Decoding Mysteries, Optimising Opportunities. OCEANS is derived from the first letter of the phrase: Opportunities of Communities and Economies: Advantages from Natural Sciences. The 70/20 refers to the 70% water coverage of the Earth and 20 years democracy in South Africa. Decoding Mysteries is related to scientific research and the mysteries of the oceans still to be discovered. The final part of the theme, Optimising Opportunities refers to our oceans being one of the drivers for a better South Africa.
The Natures Valley Trust’s (NVT) Conservation Education team, along with the help of some of the research team, got together with SANparks to put together an educational day on our marine environment for one of our eco-schools. The Crags Primary, based in the local community of Kurland, were bussed down to the Nature’s Valley beach near the rocky shores where a fun day packed full of activities and lessons which linked up with the theme.
The day began with Richmond Gewers (SANParks) welcoming the 60 grade 7 learners to the Valley with an ice breaker which involved some singing and dancing. Once the learners had been welcomed and they understood what would be happening during the morning, as well as the dos and don’ts, it was off to the rocky shores where they were divided into three groups and sent off to learn about our amazing oceans. Three stations were set up and each station had a different theme.
The first station was led by Ruth, one of NVT’s research interns, and the theme for her station was how our oceans benefit us. Here the grade 7 learners were made aware of how the beaches and oceans provide us not only with food but also tourism, transport, medication and minerals. Ruth also explained that the ocean can affect the weather and how it does this. Once the questions were answered for this section, Ruth moved onto marine litter and discussed with her group what marine litter was, how it finds its way onto our beaches and into our oceans and how it can be prevented. To end off station one the learners were given a word search to do which was related to marine litter.
Station two was led by Yanga, one of NVT’s conservation education interns, and focused on the importance of Marine protected Areas (MPA’s) and how they work. The group was first asked to describe what they thought an MPA was and from there Yanga helped them better understand why we need them. From there the learners got to play a fun food web game which involved lots of running around pretending to be primary, secondary and tertiary consumers found in the oceans. Once the game was over Yanga linked it back to MPA’s and how they function.
The final station was led by SANParks and focused on the biodiversity found within the rocky shores. Here the learners were taught about the ecosystems found in rocky shores as well as the types of animals which utilised them. From there the learners were given a list of awesome little creatures to go and find within the rock pools and they all eagerly set off to explore and find them.
The learners enjoyed the morning out with the NVT team and SANParks and went home having learnt more about what our amazing beaches and oceans have to offer us. We hope that by reaching out to the youth through educational days such as this that it helps them become more aware of our environment and ignite a passion within each of them to conserve what we have left.