Africa Organics' Partnership With Two Oceans Aquarium
Meet Bob, a green turtle, who arrived at the Two Oceans Aquarium in 2014, having been found washed up, weak and dying, on a beach four hours from Cape Town. Bob was suffering from a sinister, life-threatening condition brought about as a result of having ingested plastic and bits of balloons. Three months after his arrival, he finally excreted these fragments which had been blocking his gastrointestinal tract and making him seriously ill. Bob was one of the lucky ones and has become a powerful ambassador for sea turtles and their home, the ocean.
Bob’s home, the ocean, covering 70% of the planet, is under threat. Even though we know so little about it, the ocean is in dire crisis as a result of human activities. From overfishing and plastic pollution to ocean acidification, coral bleaching and oil spills, our ocean is being pushed to the limit by our behaviour. This ocean is not only Bob’s home, but is also the planet’s life support system and drives our weather and regulates temperature. While rainforests are responsible for about 28% of the Earth’s oxygen, most of the oxygen (70%) in the atmosphere is produced by marine plants. Without a healthy planet, all life, including human life, is threatened.
These facts underpin the Aquarium’s vision of abundant and healthy oceans for life and our mission to inspire action for the future well-being of our oceans.
Everything we do at the Aquarium is driven by our vision and mission.
We are committed to inspiring and empowering people to see the connections between their actions and the health of the oceans. We cannot do this effectively or with credibility if our own operations impact negatively on the environment. As such, we strive to lead by example and actively look for ways to minimise our impact on the environment and to have a positive influence.
In 2007 we joined the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme, a South African independent rating programme and ecolabel. We have implemented a comprehensive environmental management system (EMS) through which we manage and strive to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment. We are independently audited every year and the audit looks at our resource management (waste, water, energy, biodiversity etc), purchasing and procurement, policies and procedures, corporate social responsibility and community involvement, human resources, staff training and awareness, and visitor awareness.
We were awarded Diamond status in 2016 by the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme and have held this prestigious standing since then. In 2019 we were very proud to win Gold for Best Responsible Attraction and Silver for Best for Global Goals Reporting in the African Responsible Tourism Awards.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights which we have achieved during our sustainability journey.
• We have 500 solar panels covering 850m2 of our roof space.
• We reduced our total carbon footprint by 56 tons CO2e from 2017 to 2018, and by 136 tons CO2e from 2015 to 2018 by implementing various emission reduction activities in almost all areas of the business.
• We decreased our waste by 80 tons between 2015 and 2018.
• We disconnected our public toilets from municipal freshwater and switched over to a supply of sea water. This resulted in a 50% saving in freshwater
consumption between the calendar years 2017 and 2018.
• We teach approximately 75 000 school children from around the Cape Peninsula by way of formal and dedicated marine science lessons per year. We have three outreach programmes and more than 35 000 children, mainly from disadvantaged areas, are reached through these programmes annually.
• We host six beach cleanups (#TrashBash) a year and invite locals to participate. Through this initiative, we contribute to scientific research on the “Dirty Dozen” litter items.
• Not only are we actively striving to implement sustainable practices into our own operations and reporting, but we also endeavour to partner with companies who are committed to a sustainability journey of their own, for example, Africa Organics. Africa Organics has, for the last 5 years, donated body wash and shampoo to the Aquarium for use in its public bathrooms and dive showers.
• The Aquarium has developed a very successful turtle rescue, rehabilitation and release programme, and since it was formalised in 2009, we have released more than 500 rescued and rehabilitated turtles back into the wild.
• Our welfare work with the Cape fur seals over the last two decades in the V&A Waterfront harbour has made a significant impact on the wellbeing of these animals. We have developed a disentanglement programme, and we rescue and save between 60 and 75 seals per annum.
• Single-use plastic shopping bags are banned from the Aquarium premises since 2011, and all staff and volunteers are encouraged to use reusable bags, as well as reusable coffee cups, straws and cutlery.
Each and every staff member and volunteer contributes to our sustainability journey in some way or another. For many of us, it’s not just what we do at work because it’s part of our jobs, but it is actually a way of living. A way of living because we understand that a healthy ocean depends on each and every one of us and we depend on a healthy ocean for our survival.