From Kirstin Petzer, Master’s student at the University of Cape Town, and the TRIATLAS Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassador:
As the SA AAOYA, we have activated Expanding Horizons,, an initiative that speaks to ocean conservation in the most robust way – through addressing socio-economic challenges in the efforts to ensure that marginalised groups also feel a belonging to the ocean and are offered the opportunity to be a part of the ocean conservation conversation. Expanding Horizons aims to provide learners with hands-on experience in the marine sector in a way that supplements the content they are absorbing in their curricular activities in the classroom.
During their visit to the exhibits and the behind-the-scenes of the Two Oceans Aquarium, learners are offered the opportunity to experience the implications of some of the oceanographic and biological concepts they come across in the classroom while being exposed to various career opportunities in the marine world. We encourage the learners to ask as many questions as they want and to thoroughly enjoy their time so they, too, feel a sense of belonging in this blue space. In the strong collaborations with TOA and SAEON; as well as the support from DSI and NRF, we believe that Expanding Horizons has offered an experience that may inform future ocean stewards.
Booklet series: Bridging the Ocean
As the youth ambassador cohort, we are in the process of developing a booklet series, Bridging the Ocean, which is aimed at learners 11 years and older to bridge the knowledge gap on ocean topics such as oceanic cycles, pollution and food security. The booklet series is translated into Portuguese, Spanish and French, but as South African youth ambassadors, we have been working on getting them translated into 5 of our 11 national languages, as it is important to overcome and address the geographical and language barriers that limit access to information about the ocean. By providing people with familiarity with ocean terminolo
gy, how the ocean supports us and how we can support it, we aim to promote and inspire ocean stewardship globally, and in our local community as well.
Beach clean-ups and community engagement
As ocean ambassadors, we believe that the participation of communities in ocean related events is a crucial part of creating awareness of healthy and resilient oceans. In order to promote ocean stewardship, the South Africa ambassadors have hosted a couple of beach clean-ups. Not only were we able to collect many kilograms of waste off of our beaches but we were also able to engage with the public on questions of ocean health and citizen science.
During the beach clean-ups, we have been able to collaborate with existing organizations in the ocean community namely, The Beach Co-op and Sea The Bigger Picture with the support of the DSI and NRF. We believe in order to make our initiatives more efficient and impactful we must maximize the use of resources, expertise and connections that already exist.