#06 2020

SAEON celebrates National Marine Week 2020… virtually

By Thomas Mtontsi, Science Engagement Officer, SAEON Egagasini Node

National Marine Week is celebrated annually during the second week of October to highlight the importance of the marine environment and the role it plays in the daily lives of all South Africans, whether living inland or at the coast. Led by the National Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), the campaign seeks to foster a sense of pride in each South African for our beautiful oceans and coasts, celebrating our unique environment and the one-of-a-kind events that occur off our coasts. 

The theme for National Marine Week 2020 was Innovation for a sustainable ocean. SAEON’s Environmental Science Education Programme planned and executed a virtual programme for 40 high school learners (grades 9–11) on the Zoom platform and invited the participation of scientists from DEFF.

Prior to the celebrations, learners were coached and mentored on how to download and use the Zoom platform, which enhanced their technological skills. For many of the grade 9 learners this was the first time they attended a virtual education programme. Prior to National Marine Week, videos and photos of the transects in a rocky shore were taken during a field visit by marine technicians of SAEON’s Elwandle Node. These videos and photos were used to create the interactive rocky shore activity using Google forms together with the educational software Articulate 360.

Mthuthuzeli Gulekana, a marine scientist at DEFF’s Oceans and Coastal Research, presented on ‘Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean’, focusing on the importance of innovative mechanisms to understand and take care of the oceans. The recent earthquake in the Western Cape and the science behind it was an interesting topic for the learners, as indicated in their feedback.

In her presentation, Zoleka Filander, DEFF marine biodiversity scientist, illustrated how people connect to the oceans and the importance of taking care of the oceans. The learners thoroughly enjoyed the deep-sea section of her presentation as reflected in the questions they asked.

SAEON’s Caitlin Ransom facilitated the “Intertidal Inquiry” activity in her presentation. Learners enjoyed this engaging activity which enabled them to map the distribution of marine organisms in the intertidal zone.

Several learners from different schools in different provinces participated in the National Marine Week celebrations. The learners were from the following schools: Masiphumelele, Simon’s Town and Ocean View (Western Cape); Nombulelo, Mary Waters and Ntsika (Eastern Cape); Baranuka, King Fisher and Lebeko (Limpopo).

The learners said that they particularly enjoyed learning about underwater life

In their feedback the learners indicated what they enjoyed most about the virtual SAEON programme:

  • “Learning about underwater life.”
  • “The rocky shore activity.”
  • “The tidal activities game.”
  • “Where we look to the ocean to create employment, secure food, enhance health and reduce impact.”
  • “Mostly the earthquake part.”
  • “Learning about the ocean, since I come from a landlocked area.”
  • “I enjoyed everything.”
  • “I enjoyed doing the activity illustrating the distribution of marine organisms in the intertidal zone.”
  • “I enjoyed talking about the intertidal zones because I didn’t know that different species lived in different parts of the ocean.”
  • “I enjoyed being able to learn about marine life because as blacks I never thought we could learn about sea life.”
  • “The rocky shore.”
  • “Ocean engineering.”
  • “The things we were being taught about, because the people who were teaching can explain so well.”
  • “Learning about the importance of the ocean and being aware of the dangers we can bring to the species.”
  • “I really enjoyed the fact that we learnt quite a number of new things. I am confident that whatever we learnt today will assist us in our studies as well as making us aware of our responsibilities toward our oceans.”
  • “The lesson by Mr Mthuthuzeli regarding earthquakes.”
  • “Learning more about how they check speed and direction with an orange ball.”
  • “Innovation presentation as it was creative, remarkable, fun and educational.”
  • “I enjoy learning about the rocky shore because I like to study.”
  • “The second lesson because I’m interested in underwater life.”
  • “The presentations I enjoyed most were those about underwater life in the ocean and the innovation topic.”
  • “Games added to the excitement.”
  • “I enjoyed the Innovation and Oceans topics.”
  • “I enjoyed the analysis of data and seeing the distribution of organisms in the intertidal zone.”
  • “The rocky shore part because I dream of going to the beach and exploring the shores.”
  • “I loved the new things I learnt about natural disasters that happen in the ocean, tools used in the ocean and just about the ocean in general.”
  • “All the teaching was great and now l know how to protect my ocean and preserve it.”
  • “The species found in the ocean, because it taught me more about the ocean and what can be found around it.”
  • “The earthquake presentation, because I really liked learning about earthquakes; and about the ocean.”
  • “I enjoyed learning about the marine species and the habitats they are found in…it’s really rare to see some of those things because the ocean is far away, so thank you for educating us.”
  • “Ocean engineering, because it’s about how we live, how we treat ourselves, it brings a lot of affection, passion and above all we find peace, grace, recreation and lots of other stuff in our ocean.”
  • “I enjoyed learning about the ocean because it is all about life in the ocean.”