There’s a new education coordinator at the Shark Education Centre: Wisaal Osman, who has a Master’s degree in applied marine science from the University of Cape Town. Five months in, she explains to Eleanor Yeld Hutchings what brought her to this position and how she’s enjoying it.
Have you settled into your new role?
I keep joking with friends and family that I’m in a Venn diagram: marine science and education are overlapping and I’m smack in the middle – the perfect place to be!
What sparked your passion for the environment?
Actually, it was a person who sparked my passion. At a career day in primary school, we had a visit from a marine scientist. To this day, I can’t remember her name, but in my mind’s eye I can still see her explaining fish biology to the class. That was the turning point for me. She opened my eyes to a world I hadn’t been aware of. I was hooked! I just had to see and experience this world.
My family encouraged me to follow my dreams, even if they were a bit different from the usual career paths… And off I went, pursuing tertiary degrees in zoology, ecology and marine biology. The field trips are some of my best memories and included many first experiences for me: Dassen Island’s penguins, the rocky shore at Dalebrook, Langebaan Lagoon and its diverse invertebrates. For my Honours research, I spent six weeks living in a caravan on the beach at Paternoster. Is there anything better than the sounds and smells of the sea?
Ideally situated at the edge of False Bay in Cape Town, South Africa, the Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre overlooks the ocean and is right on the doorstep of the incredible Dalebrook Marine Protected Area. This unique location enables us to immerse children in experientially focused educational activities.
The SOSF Shark Education Centre is an attraction not to be missed. It boasts a carefully selected collection of state-of-the-art exhibits that ensures that children and adults are able to learn through play and exploration, with each of their different senses engaged. This facilitates a truly immersive and stimulating educational experience while they are having fun.
The Shark Education Centre focuses mostly on sharks, from their diversity and anatomy to their habitats and their role in the ocean. However, there is also a strong emphasis on the unique and special marine ecosystem found in and around False Bay – and sharks are used as a key to unlock more general marine knowledge.
Groups of schoolchildren come through the centre and leave feeling inspired to care about sharks and their ocean habitats. But the centre does not only cater for visiting schools; there are outreach events, holiday clubs, marine awareness camps, marine explorers clubs and many other activities.
The Shark Education Centre also invites the general public to explore its displays. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that our marine education and conservation messages are spread far and wide.