I love to scuba-dive, and I’ve swum among loggerhead and leatherback turtles along our coastline. I thought that was pretty awesome – until I discovered the Ocean Experience at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. The aquarium rescues and rehabilitates stranded and distressed sea turtles before releasing them along the Western Cape coast. And while they’re recuperating at Two Oceans, visitors can engage with them.
I interacted mainly with Bob, named thus after he was found ‘bobbing’ in the sea – he had so much plastic in his stomach that he couldn’t dive to find food and almost died.
‘The value of these experiences is that people really get to interact with an animal that has an incredible story; it’s very powerful in its conservation message,’ says Talitha Noble, conservation co-ordinator at the aquarium. ‘That’s how you inspire change: give people an opportunity to fall in love – then they’ll protect what they love.’
The experience takes place in a shallow-water area and an in-house expert tells you all about the turtles. As no scuba qualification is required, kids as young as eight can enjoy this friendly and informative interaction. It costs R530 per adult and R455 per child between eight and 17; R100 of the fee goes towards the aquarium’s conservation fund.
When you see these turtles thriving after coming so close to dying, you realise you’re in the presence of some of the most resilient and incredible creatures on Earth.
Go to www.aquarium.co.za/content/page/ocean-experiences for more info.